This week will see the second running of a Bendigo Cup in 2014. This, presumably, is to avoid having a gap of 16 months or so between competitions, with the new plan of staging the club’s flagship race in late June, early July instead of late March, early April.
In some ways it is easy to take it for granted that Bendigo has been a long-time successful operation, but the truth is that for about a decade after it opened (in March 1956), it struggled. Racing behind a mechanical lure in Victoria had only just been introduced; before that, races were run behind a pacemaker. Owners, trainers and the general public were used to seeing pacemakers, not a mechanical lure, and so nominations for the new Bendigo track were often small.
The first Cup was run in 1957, over 400 yards (366 metres) and annexed by Cantee. As to the actual date, placings, times and the rest, information appears to be almost non-existent. The brindle son of Rocket Jet (out of Magenta), Cantee won 12 races in his career, including the 1957 Harold Park Classic (now Vic Peters Memorial Classic).
Once more the early years are a little hazy. Between 1957 and possibly 1971, it was run over 400 yards. There are gaps where the winners for 1962-1964, 1966-1967, and 1969 are officially ‘unknown’. Certainly in 1972 the race was run over 535 metres, as a handicap. In 1973 the distance changed to 528 metres and was run as a handicap until 1978. No race was run in 1979. In 1980 it was run over 430 metres, but in 1981 it went to the new distance of 545 metres. Between 1982 and 2014 the Cup has been run over 430 metres, apart from 2001 when it was held over 545 metres.
When Is The Race Run
From 1986, and possibly, or probably, since its inception, the race was held in either November or December. This continued until 1994. No event was held in 1995, and from 1996 until 2000 it was run in March. The 2001 final was run in January. Then from 2002 until 2014 it was finalised in either March or April. Now it will move back to a June/July date.
Biggest Winning Margins
Of those for which I have information, the biggest margin is owned jointly by 1972 victor Leicester Edie and 2006 winner Dragway Flex, both scoring by seven lengths. Next best is Thorgil Tex who won the 1994 final by six lengths.
Closest Winning Margins
There have been plenty of these. Naphlio (1988), Hard Rain (1990), He’s Jake (1991), Lansley Bale (1998), and Paw Licking (April 2014) all won by a head. Hey Brother (2002) scored by a neck and Buka Sunset (1987) by a long neck.
Most Successful Trainer/s
Graeme Bate with Lansley Bale (1998), Dragway Flex (2006) and Taipan Bale (2009), and Jason Thompson with El Galo (2008), Peggy May (2012) and Ronan Izmir (2013) share the honours with three apiece. Tom Dailly with Whitten’s Legend (2000) and Renzo Bale (2001), and Robert Britton with Hey Brother (2002) and Airbourne Bale (2007) are next with two each.
Only Dual Winner/s
Only Reserve/s To Win
None I’m aware of.
Natsody Beau (third 1997 & 1998), Open Country (fifth 1997, fourth 1998), Power Zone (second 1998 & 1999), Go Diesel (seventh 1998, third 1999), Smack Wallop (second 2004, Won 2005), Dyna Checa (seventh 2006 & 2007), Taipan Bale (second 2008, Won 2009), Stagger (eighth 2012, third 2013), Ronan Izmir (Won 2013, fourth 2014).
Some Beaten Stars
Hot Spell (second 1987), Bee Sting (third 1987), Freewheeler (third 1988), Rodeo Blue (second 1989), Young Darren (sixth 1997), Solve The Puzzle (eighth 1998), Miss Tantine (fourth 2000), Railroad Wish (second 2001), Zaability (second 2002), Big Smig (third 2002), Creative Wish (third 2004), Collide (fourth 2005), Paddy’s Flame (third 2008), Dyna Tron (second 2012), Arizona Dozer (fourth 2013), Black Magic Opal (seventh 2014)
When Leicester Edie won in 1972, the first prize was $1,000. In 1987, when Buka Sunset was successful, he took home $4,000. Lansley Bale collected $12,000 for his 1998 victory, Renzo Bale $16,000 in 2001, and Hey Brother $20,000 in 2002. Peggy May earned $40,000 in 2012 and Paw Licking took out $43,750 earlier in 2014.
Mets Man, an Irish import by the American sire Sandman, took out the 1989 Bendigo Cup. Smooth Approach (1975 Winter Stake, Harold Park), Dunmain Scholar (1975 Anniversary Trophy, Olympic Park & 1976 Victorian National Distance Championship State Final), and Kanangra Band (1977 Dave Alexander Memorial, Harold Park) are the only other Irish imports to have won a major race in Australia.