BENDIGO galloper Highclass Harry emerged with another placing, but his reputation enhanced following a brave effort on his home track at Bendigo on Wednesday.
Rising in grade to a benchmark 70, the Josh Julius-trained six-year-old led for much of the 1500m trip, but was unable to hold out the swooping Blinder, who recovered from a slow start to post a convincing two-length win.
Chasing a fourth win from his past five starts, Highclass Harry - ridden by Madison Lloyd - battled on gamely for second, with Santelmo Fuego, for Warrnambool trainer Symon Wilde, a further length back in third.
It was back-to-back minor placings for Highclass Harry after his second behind the Danny O'Brien-trained gelding Sukoot at Sandown late last month.
The late-maturing gelding has had just the seven starts for Julius and only once finished outside the top-two.
Highlighting his sharp improvement, the son of Magnus and Ruby Fast was having his first start at benchmark 70 level, a little over a month after notching a win in after benchmark 58 at Wodonga, which was the second of three consecutive victories under Julius.
All honours were with the Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young-trained winner Blinder, who was backed from $6.50 into $3.70 and favourtism.
Racing with the addition of blinkers and with Luke Currie on-board for the first time, the Snitzel gelding did well to recover from a tardy start to be poised to pounce at the top of the straight before sprinting away to a victory full of promise.
Co-trainer Young said the early speed battle between Highclass Harry and Stardayz had certainly worked to the advantage of Blinder.
"He was coming back from 1800m to the 1500m and we have served it up to him a little bit," she said.
"We've had him over the sticks and his last couple of gallops have really taken the eye.
"We thought he definitely gets his chance today.
"He's always had the ability, he's just a horse who's got to have everything going his way.
"He's got to have that speed on early for him to get home over the top of them. That's been his best races."
Young hoped the five-year-old, who has won three times from 17 starts, could continue to climb through his classes.
Meanwhile, the hopes of St Edward's Crown recapturing the bright form of her two-year-old and early three-year-old days were given a boost, after she finished third behind the impressive Goldifox in the benchmark 70 fillies and mares event.
Interviewed pre-race, Bendigo trainer Shane Fliedner conceded the city-winning mare had suffered from a lack of confidence following an impressive introduction to racing, highlighted by a third at Listed level in the Atlantic Jewel Stakes.
"It's a learning curve ... getting her back to being a racehorse now," he said.
"I think she's on her way back, but I don't know if today is the day.
"But I'm sure in the future we will get her back to how she was going. I expect a good deal of improvement in her."
In other highlights, Mick Price and Michael Kent Jr have black-type aspirations with Cambourne, after the three-year-old colt put his rivals to the sword in the 1400m class 1.
Ridden by Michael Dee, Cambourne made it two wins from as many starts after impressing on debut at Donald earlier this month, putting himself squarely in calculations for next month' Group 1 Caulfield Guineas.
"It's a bit of a squeezy little program for him," Price said of the colt's Guineas aspirations.
"I'm not sure if it's too much racing in his first prep to bounce on to Saturday week in the Caulfield Guineas Prelude over 1400m, which is going to be a harder, tougher race.
"But I'm just a bit jammed up with what I can do with the horse. (After) a metropolitan win (on Wednesday), do you take a punt and see if you go into the Caulfield Guineas on that?
"I think the horse will be a beautiful 1600m horse. He had to come off heels and produce a bit of a sprint.
"I think (second placegetter) Chica Fuerte is a nice filly. I think he (Cambourne) beat the right horse in the race.
"He's a black-type horse coming somewhere"
The Kent/Price and Dee combination made it a race-to-race double with a victory to Shotmaker in the 1300m benchmark 70.
Bendigo continues to prove a happy hunting ground for Cranbourne trainer Shawn Mathrick, who notched up back-to-back victories with the five-year-old Red Light Roxanne.
The Reward For Effort mare won at the previous Bendigo Jockey Club meeting on September 2 and now has three wins from 18 starts after starting his career under the guidance of Matthew Ellerton.
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