TRAINER Bob Donat hopes to be firing on all cylinders on Apiam Bendigo Cup day.
Donat, whose training base is situated just across the road from the Bendigo racecourse, only has three horses in his stable at the moment.
All three of them will be in action on cup day, headed by his smart five-year-old Tatunka, who will be chasing a spot in the $500,000 Melbourne Cup Carnival Country Series final at Flemington on Oaks Day.
The Redente/Paramytha gelding earlier this year notched up three-consecutive wins, and has had just the one run back from a freshen up, finishing eighth at Horsham earlier this month.
Donat believed Tatunka would take plenty of benefit from his first-up run.
"He ran well at Horsham the other day, but it just wasn't the right track for him (a good 4). He ran super though," he said.
"He will be far better back here on his home track.
"I would have loved for a bit more of that moisture, but I don't think it's coming.
"A little bit more rain would be nice, but he'll go okay at home."
Only a top-two finish will guarantee Tatunka a spot in the Oaks Day final, which already boasts two Bendigo-trained qualifiers - Highclass Harry from the Josh Julius stable and the Brendon Hearps-trained Vungers.
He will be ridden by star jockey William Pike, who will be looking to back up an excellent 2019 Bendigo Cup day, highlighted by his win aboard Top Of The Range in the feature event.
"Someone told me once, start ringing from the top and work your way down. But we've got the top gun on," he said of the champion Western Australian.
Donat will be aiming for back-to-back victories with Red Cracker following the mare's triumph in a benchmark 58 at Bendigo on October 17.
The five-year-old will line-up in a benchmark 70 over 1600m, with Donat hopeful she can handle the step up in grade.
"She's probably flying a bit high in a 70, but she's only carrying 56kg and Michael Dee will do a good job on her," he said.
"I wouldn't say she's a good thing, but she could run into a place."
Donat's first runner on Cup day will be the maiden galloper Kwahadi, who is a full-brother to Tatunka, and will line up in the day's opening event.
The trainer said the four-year-old was high on ability, but still relatively immature despite having 12 starts under his belt.
"He gave Red Cracker a flogging on the track the other morning, so he can definitely gallop, but he's just a bit immature and a bit sheepish," Donat said.
"He ran third behind one of Hawkes' in a city maiden three starts ago.
"He's got all the ability, he just needs to put it together. He's drawn barrier one, so as long as he jumps out with a bit of confidence he could be okay."
Tatunka, Red Cracker and Kwahadi will be the first Bendigo Cup day runners for Donat, who started his training career in Cohuna, but has been based at Bendigo for the past 12 years.
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