THE Elmore Cup on June 3 is on the radar of Bendigo trainer Graham Donaldson with his dependable middle-distance performer Buchan Hoaks.
A fantastic 'bread and butter' horse for Donaldson, the six-year-gelding notched up his sixth career win from 47 starts with a runaway victory over 1590m in a benchmark 0-58 at Wangaratta on Sunday.
Buchan Hoaks, by Turffontein out of the mare My Hoaks, was superbly ridden by Robbie Downey, who was having his first ride for the Bendigo trainer.
It's unlikely to be his last.
With three placings from his last six starts before Sunday and a luckless fourth at his last run at Donald, Donaldson made the trek to Wangaratta with a good degree of confidence.
"His last five or six starts he'd been around the mark, but he's just had a bit of bad luck," he said.
"When he's focused, he goes alright, but now he's going up a class that might pull him back a bit.
"He hasn't won beyond the 58 (benchmark) despite some good efforts.
"He's probably no better than what he has been winning at, but he's just honest and has been a really good little horse for us."
Buchan Hoaks' 47 starts have included 14 minor placings for prize money of $133,915, a nice return for co-owners Donaldson and his daughter Emma Pontelandolfo, who was on strapping duties on Sunday.
"I know they are not big races he is winning, but still, horses like him are hard to come by," Donaldson said.
"Nearly $135,000 for his grade of horse is pretty good."
Sunday's win was the gelding's first since October last year when he won on his home track at Bendigo on a soft 6.
"The wetter the better for him. He's won on everything, but he likes it wet," Donaldson said.
He's almost certain to get his wish for a wet track on Elmore Cup day.
The 1600m feature shapes as a solid test for Buchan Hoaks, whose six wins have included five in the 1400-1800-metre range.
He finished fourth at the corresponding meeting on June 5 last year over 1300m in a race won by the Kym Hann-trained Elmore Lad.
Donaldson is hoping to back up his winning Sunday at Ballarat on Monday, with the six-year-old mare Just Wishing contesting a 1500-metre benchmark 58 (race 7 at 4pm) on her preferred synthetic surface.
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