Punters were treated to an exciting finish in Wednesday’s Group 3 Bendigo Cup as the Maddie Raymond-trained Wentwood got up to win the feature right on the line.
Winning hoop Harry Coffey proved the difference in the saddle, steering the $8.50 pop home down the inside of the straight after box-seating early on from the low draw.
Coffey settled fourth along the rails coming out of the gates and received a beautiful cart into the race on the back of Tooradin, who set the tempo for the majority.
The seven-year-old Wentwood quickened when Coffey asked something of him and had just enough left in the tank to hold off fast-finishing favourite Smokin’ Romans out wide.
“I’m actually a bit physically buggered, he’s not an easy ride and I will admit, I didn’t get him to relax at all,” Coffey told Racing.com following the win.
“He was really running on me the whole race and I was lucky that there was a strong tempo following Linda (Meech). When Michael (Dee) got caught wide he sort of put a bit more pressure on, and I was lucky that happened because if Michael didn’t do that Linda probably would have given her horse a bit of a rest in front and we would’ve overdid it.”
Wentwood found no friends in betting, but his recent form suggested a big run was always on the cards.
The Country Horse of the Year won the St Arnaud, Werribee and Terang Cups over the last calendar year, and was only beaten narrowly by Caulfield Cup fancy Duais in the Group 3 Coongy Stakes at Caulfield two weeks ago.
Known for being a little temperamental, trainer Maddie Raymond said she couldn’t be prouder of how far her horse has come.
“He’s just so tough and he’s come so far in 12 months. It was nearly 12 months ago that he won the St Arnaud Cup and to get here today and win this race and see how well he’s relaxing is a huge team event,” Raymond said.
The Bendigo Cup winner often backs up in the $7.75 million Melbourne Cup a week later, but it appears Wentwood is either heading to the Mackinnon Stakes or a trip back to the paddock.
“The Ballarat Cup was on the cards, we’ll just get him home and assess” Raymond went on to say.
“We had the option to throw a nomination in for the Mackinnon, it’s 10 days away so that might come around a little bit soon, he does like his runs spaced a little bit. We’ll just get him home, assess, and see where we go from there.”
There was no such luck for Cup hopeful Amade on Wednesday.
Phillip Stokes’ import blew the start by nearly 20L but still managed to finish off well for fifth in a brave effort.
Smokin’ Romans was unlucky not to get the job done out wide, while Taramansour filled the minors with a well-timed run from Fred Kersley.
Click here for Ladbrokes’ 2021 All-In Melbourne Cup market.