By Alex Nolan
While the masses won’t be heading to the track for the Group 2 Bendigo Cup, club manager Troy Harley says the plan is to take the race to the masses.
The ongoing COVID-19 crisis in Victoria has forced the club, for the second time this year, to cancel its popular Ready 2 Race Auction but, at the time of writing, the Cup was set to go ahead behind closed doors.
However, Harley says the club will aim to provide enhanced coverage through its social media platforms for both the rescheduled heats (October 9) and October 16 final.
“The R2R is one of our main events and the Club is proud to be the home of the R2R and we are determined that it will be back next year,” Harley said.
“Until then we focus on the upcoming Bendigo Cup Carnival that looks set to be run behind closed doors again with some significant social media coverage planned for both heat and finals days and preparing in hope to be able to welcome crowds back in the not-too-distant future.”
Offering $50,000 to the winner, the Bendigo Cup is sure to be again hotly contested.
The 2020 edition went to the Correy Grenfell trained Yozo Bale, which upset kennelmate, the more fancied runner and multiple Group One winner Tiggerlong Tonk in the process.
Now rising four, Tiggerlong Tonk most recently finished second in the G2 Healesville Cup Final.
It followed a gallant effort in the Speed Star event at The Meadows on August 25, when despite winning his match race, finished second in the overall times behind the flying Aston Rupee.
Grenfell, who trains in partnership with wife Samantha, said last year’s winning quinella would be tackling the race yet again.
“Bendigo is probably one of my favourite tracks,” he said.
“It’s one of the cleanest racing tracks in my opinion and I’ve never really had a dog injured there.”
Grenfell has been managing a hock issue with Yozo Bale since shortly after his win in last year’s Cup.
“When you have dogs like Yozo and Tonk you can’t afford to take any risks at all. It only takes one bad knock and it’s career ending,” Grenfell said.
The 27-year-old trainer is under no illusions that this year’s Cup will be a class race.
“It’s the kind of track that if the best dogs are fit and sound you’d except to see them all there. The club is going to attract a strong field,” he said.
He looks back on the 2020 edition with fond memories.
“To be honest, my eyes were on Tonk the whole way around. I didn’t realise Yozo was in front until half-way down the straight. It was a shock result but a good one!”