BENDIGO trainer Josh Julius has declared Highclass Harry ready for the next big test of his mettle on his home track on Wednesday.
The late-maturing six-year-old gelding will be looking to add a fourth win in seven starts this preparation when he lines up in a wide-open benchmark 70 over 1500m at Bendigo.
The Julius-trained gelding heads into the race in brilliant form following a narrow second behind the Danny O'Brien-trained Sukoot at Sandown late last month, which followed a hat-trick of wins.
"Being a metro race, I probably expected a bigger field, but it doesn't seem like too bad of a race for him the way he is tracking," Julius said on Tuesday.
"He is obviously stepping up from 64 to 70 grade, but gets the weight relief accordingly, albeit he has drawn a little awkwardly.
"If I have to be really critical of him between runs, he's missed one bit of work following Sandown due to a minor hoof abscess. But it was closer to his Sandown run than it was Bendigo
"Three weeks between runs he was naturally going to go the races a bit fresher, but he is fit and well.
"One more good gallop and I would have been really rapt, but (being) on his home track and the lightest weight he's ever carried should hold him in good stead."
Highclass Harry - a $3.90 chance in early markets - will renew his blossoming partnership with Madison Lloyd, who has ridden the gelding in all of his last four starts.
Julius branded the Swan Hill apprentice as critical in the gelding's recent run of success.
"She really suits him and they have a good rapport together at the moment," he said.
"Madi nearly rode her first city winner on him at his last start and she ended up doing it the other day (on Beautiful Bee at Sandown), and she's had two doubles in the last week (at Warracknabeal and Swan Hill).
"She's certainly a young rider in form and it's good to see her getting the rewards."
Tough opposition is expected from the Chris Waller-trained Bacchus, who is tipped to improve on his third in a strong benchmark 64 at the last meeting held at Bendigo earlier in the month, and the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace runner Stardayz.
"I think Stardayz is drawn to have a pretty cruisy run with a claimer (Laura Lafferty) in front as well," Julius said.
"It will be a little tricky for Maddi from (barrier) nine; of the three horses with speed, she will be the widest.
"She will have to make up her mind pretty early on whether she is going to take asit or sit outside the leader.
"But we know we have a pretty tough horse and he is going to go around with the lightest weight on his back he's had his whole career. Hopefully, that brings us a bit of luck as well."
The young trainer has started the season in red-hot form with four winners and a placing from just eight starters.
Meanwhile, Bendigo mare St Edward's Crown gets her chance to return to the winner's list for the first time in over 12 months when she lines up in the benchmark 70 fillies and mares event.
The Shane Fliedner-trained four-year-old will be looking to recapture the form that saw her victorious and finish second in back-to-back races at Flemington as a two-year-old.
Coming off a four-week freshen up, St Edward's Crown will appreciate a dip in class after finishing seventh in an open mare's race at Caulfield last month and should relish a rare outing on her home track.
Billy Egan take the ride on the mare for the first time.
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