AFTER two interrupted years, the Bendigo Greyhound Racing Association's annual Gold Rush Carnival has returned as good as ever, with the five feature races being run on Easter Sunday some of the best editions of the respective events that have been conducted.
The flagship event of the carnival that commenced back in 2005 is the Jarrod Larkin Concreting Gold Rush Maiden.
Each year future top-liner chasers commence their careers in this series and the 2022 version will be no different with plenty of exciting prospects taking part.
The betting market on the final is likely to be dominated by the rails runner Aston Exceed, and rightly so after two blistering displays of pure speed and faultless racing in posting 23.61 in both his heat and semi final from the same draw.
Blessed with the rarest level of explosive speed, Aston Exceed would have to make a major mistake at box rise to not lead comfortably and that is where the race is likely to be won.
That said, the opposition is full of talent.
READ MORE: Gold Rush heats unveil potential superstars
Sale-trained youngster Fire Hose has been brilliant in his all-the-way wins in the opening two rounds of the series and is drawn nicely in box two.
He too has a brilliant turn of foot and will make his presence felt.
Unleash Collinda posted identical first sections in his heat and semi final, a slick 6.49, but will have his work cut out to cross from box six.
High Tribe Rico, drawn in box four, has qualified by finishing second in both heat and semi final.
He looks like he will be better suited over the '500s' in the future but has impressed with his field sense thus far and could be upset material in the chase for the $10,000 first prize.
The first of Sunday's features is the Easter Cup over the 500m trip and the Brooke Ennis duo of Barooga Smoke and Old News are the pair to beat.
A dual Group 3 winner and multiple big race finalist, Barooga Smoke has competed at Bendigo twice for two second placed results, but after racing against some of the best sprinters in training in recent times, he will appreciate a drop in class.
Kennel-mate Old News has not raced since finishing fourth in the Horsham Cup on March 4, but looks well suited by the draw and has built a terrific record in good company in a short career to date.
Some quality stayers have contested various races at the Lord's Raceway circuit over the past decade, however, the 2022 Bendigo Stayers Cup is arguably the best collective field of stayers to be drawn to compete at the track.
Dual Group 1 winner Jarick Bale, Group 3 winner and three-time Group 1 finalist Hank The Hustler, Group 3 winner Graclyn Bale, Sandown 595m track record holder and potential star stayer Collinda Patty and in-form middle distance chaser Golden Quest combine for what could be one of the races of the year at a country track.
With $750,000 in combined stakes earned by those five runners alone, the $12,000 first prize offered by the club is getting plenty of value for money this year and race five is one not to be missed on Sunday.
As is the case each year, the restricted win series' for the guys and gals round out the feature events of the carnival.
Toolleen trainer Daniel Pell will be looking to go back-to-back in the Belle of Bendigo, when unbeaten sprinter Dioptase takes on a field of talented up and comers, including Paul Abela's exciting chaser Aston Suzette.
The Pell and Abela kennels will also challenge for the Beau of Bendigo trophy, with Pell's Rigg and Flight Risk two of the main contenders along with the Abela-trained duo Aston Galaxy and Aston Carey.
While there is plenty of action on the track that will conclude the carnival, off the track there is plenty happening as well with activities for the kids provided by The Zone as well as pony rides, show bags, Easter Eggs, bike giveaways and more.
Activities start at 11.30am with the first of 12 races to leave the boxes at 12.09pm.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.