Bendigo Cup Day

Image: State Library of Victoria

I was delighted to work at Bendigo on Wednesday for the Bendigo Cup meeting.

It was a public holiday in Bendigo and there was a big crowd for the meeting.

I wasn’t on the stand as a bookmaker, but rather as a clerk working for my good friend Warren Woodcock.

Two things struck me in my role, being more at the coalface: the first was that a lot of people seemingly get the number of the horse they want to bet on confused with the odds of said horse. A remarkable amount of times, people would say they (for example) wanted to bet on number 8, I only recognised the mistake if 8 were scratched. The punters were looking at the odds ($8.00), not the horse’s number.

Of course, if they looked at their ticket, it could be fixed before the race started. Many wouldn’t.

The 2nd thing that struck me was the complete lack of disputes after the race. 40-odd years ago, when I last was working as a clerk, there seemed to be a dispute after every race. These days the tickets are so well presented, that any disputes are taken care of before the race, and usually, after the race it is smooth sailing.


The gelding Dennis was the most impressive winner of the day for mine. Dennis won with a leg in the air and now he is qualified for a race up the straight during Cup week. It is a good initiative to give the winner of this particular race in Bendigo a free ticket to a race in Cup week, despite the

fact this particular horse is trained by Australia’s leading trainer!


Jim Crowley is unbeaten this season in Australian racing thanks to a double he rode for David Hayes at Bendigo. I had never heard of Jim when I was looking through the form, so a quick google search was in order. Jim has been a leading rider in England for years and was the champion flat rider in 2016. What he is doing in Australia I don’t know, but he is well worth keeping an eye on.

Now this is the definition of going off before acceptances, but if Thinkin’ Big does win the Derby on Saturday, I would love Gai to back him up in the Cup. However, with 49kg in the Cup, he is not very well treated. The last three-year-old to win the Cup was Skipton in 1941 – a time (World War II) when the Cup was run on a Saturday and of very little importance to the Australian public who had just witnessing the loss of Singapore to the Japanese and were about to be dragged into the war on two fronts. Should Gai’s colt run in the Cup this year, he will have 49kg with the top weight being 58kg. That is a 9kg spread. When Skipton won, he carried 47kg, with the top weight Beau Vite running 3rd with 61.5kg. 14.5 the difference. Skipton wasn’t even the bottom weight in the Cup that year.

In 1995 Nothin’ Leica Dane carried 47.5kg with the import Double Trigger carrying 60.5kg. Nothin’ Leica Dane of course finished 2nd, a difference of 13 kilos and no three-year-old has performed as well in the Cup since (only a couple have even started).

I hope this anomaly (against three-year-olds) is corrected.

Silly people often say that backing up Nothin’ Leica Dane in the Cup wrecked him for his later years. But it is untrue. After beating Octagonal in the Derby, then running 2nd in the Cup, Nothin’ Leica Dane rated through the roof as an autumn three-year-old. Isn’t it funny that in hindsight, we see that 1996 crop of autumn three-year-olds as a great batch? Saintly, Filante, Octagonal, and Nothin’ Leica Dane. But going into that autumn, we probably had our doubts. Horses are always better after the fact, than when anticipating. Interesting. Nevertheless, if Thinkin’ Big wins the Derby, I hope the good wife backs him up in the Cup. I suggest that will happen.

One Reply to “Bendigo Cup Day”

  1. I enjoy your commentary. However I think you could occasionally mention that trainers in yesteryears had the availability and advantage of using steroids which ( amongst other benefits) enabled horses to back up ( often 2 or 3 times a week)

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