BENDIGO trainers will have a strong hand at Thursday's race meeting on their home track with at least one local chance appearing in seven of the eight races to be contested.
That will especially be the case in the 1300m benchmark 58 where nearly half of the 13 Bendigo-trained runners on the program can be found.
They include a pair of last start winners in the Rod Symons-trained Kaniva and The Wrangler for Jarrod Robinson.
Symons is hoping a polished performance last start over 1100m at Wangaratta is a sign his four-year-old mare is slowly returning to the bright form she showed earlier in her career.
It was Kaniva's second win in 13 career starts, with her first coming on debut at Kyneton in February this year.
Symons immediately sent her to Moonee Valley, where she finished second behind Aquagirl, who won an open three and four-year-old event worth $150,000 last Saturday, but despite three subsequent placings, she had been unable to add to her win tally until nine days ago.
"She's a good horse on her day - she's been placed in town and I'd like to think she's getting back her old form," he said.
"We have had a bit of a hiccup with her feet, but our farrier has been working on her with some special shoes and has put some bar weights on her and it looks like it has ironed things out a bit.
"Of course, rain-affected ground is good for her, so we are looking forward to a bit of rain coming through.
"It was good to get her back winning and hitting the line strongly.
"It's a bit of a step-up in distance, but back on her home track, we're hopeful. We're not claiming, but Alana Kelly is as good as they come in the apprentice world.
"If we could win this one, we might be able to go back to Melbourne and put her amongst some mares in a (benchmark) 64."
Fellow trainer Robinson was able to breathe a sigh of relief after The Wrangler broke a long and frustrating run of outs at Hamilton earlier this month.
The six-year-old gelding and winner of five of his 39 starts is rarely far away in his races, as evidenced by his 11 minor placings, and shapes as one of the key chances despite his top weight.
"Hopefully he can keep it up, but you never really know with him," Robinson said.
"He pulled up well (after Hamilton), he's happy and he's his usual self.
"He's got more weight (65kg) than I'd like, but we have the apprentice (Shanae O'Meara) on which will bring it right down. 61kg will be a bit of a relief for him."
Working in his favour, The Wrangler has a win and a third from his three starts on his home track.
Robinson expects his second runner for the day, Burning The Clock, to be ridden by Tatum Bull, in the last race to be very competitive despite also being lumped with plenty of weight.
Fresh from a city win on Wednesday with I Am News, Brent Stanley saddles up Hit Reset in the 1300m feature.
A strong Bendigo contingent includes Hay Cliffy for Arthur Pace and a pair of runners from the in-form Kym Hann stable in Bill The Bee and Our Destrier, who is second-up from a long spell and has previously won second-up.
Hann heads into Thursday's meeting with three winners from his last 12 runners, highlighted by last Friday night's city success with Gloves Are Off at Moonee Valley.
A solid chance for Neville Kennedy in race five, recent Mount Wycheproof Cup winner Don't Make Me Wait will face the starter in the 2400m benchmark 58.
The seven-year-old gelding followed his Wycheproof win by finishing unplaced in the $70,000 Ararat Cup (2000m) behind fellow Bendigo-trained galloper Tibetan, before a good fourth in a benchmark 64 at Donald and should be hard to beat, up in distance and down in grade.
Don't Make Me Wait, a winner of eight of 56 starts, will be ridden by Bendigo jockey John Keating.
Expect the Bob Donat-trained Red Cracker to be well-supported in betting, third-up and back on his home track where he won in convincing fashion over 1400m last month.
Race 2: Zedemski (Shane Fliedner).
Race 3: Millitree (Rod Symons).
Race 4: Sentry Rock (Aileen Vanderfeen)' Six Degrees (Pat Cannon).
Race 5: Don't Make Me Wait (Neville Kennedy).
Race 6: The Wrangler (Jarrod Robinson); Hay Cliffy (Arthur Pace); Bill The Bee (Kym Hann); Our Destrier (Kym Hann); Kaniva (Rod Symons); Hit Reset (Brent Stanley).
Race 7: Red Cracker (Bob Donat).
Race 8: Burning The Clock (Jarrod Robinson).
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