The Bendigo Cup is a Group 3 thoroughbred race which takes place at Bendigo Racecourse in Victoria during the Spring Racing Carnival. Having only been upgraded to a Group 3 six short years ago, the race has rapidly become a key event in the country racing scene, and the top performing horses here have a chance to go on and compete in much bigger races.
A history of the Bendigo Cup
Like many Australian races, the Bendigo Cup has a long history. It was officially first run more than 150 years ago in 1868, but at that time it was known as the Sandhurst Cup – that edition of the race was won by a horse called Old England.
It wasn’t until more than 100 years later, in 1979, that the Bendigo Cup became a Listed race, and traditionally it has been held in November, after the Melbourne Cup and the official end of the Spring Racing Carnival. Over the last few years, however, both of those things have changed, and the race has taken on new significance as a result.
The Bendigo Cup today
In 2009, the Bendigo Cup was moved from November to late October, meaning it now takes place on the Wednesday prior to the Melbourne Cup. This, along with the upgrade of the event to Group 3 status, has made the race a more attractive proposition for many quality staying horses.
The Bendigo Cup now acts as something of a springboard for horses targeting bigger races in the following week as the Spring Carnival winds to a close. Stayers from this race will often make appearances in races at a similar level such as the Ballarat Cup, but there have also been horses who have gone on to perform well at the VRC Queen Elizabeth Stakes – as recently as 2016, Bendigo Cup winner Francis of Assisi won them both in the same year, with the performance of the Irish-born gelding indicative of the ever-growing international presence in the race.
Indeed, top performers at the Bendigo Cup can even go on to compete in The Race That Stops A Nation. It was only last year that the UK-born Pondus fell just a head short of winning this event, and had he crept over the line he would have earned a berth in the Melbourne Cup the following week.
What date is the 2021 Bendigo Cup?
The 2021 edition of the Bendigo Cup will be run and won on Wednesday, the 27th of October. The exact start time of the 2,400-metre race has not yet been determined, but as the feature event on the program it will presumably be later on in the afternoon. Participants will share in a total prize pool of $400,000.
As a Group 3 race in a carnival filled with Group 1 and Group 2s, the Bendigo Cup isn’t exactly the race to which people look forward throughout the course of the year. It is, however, growing in significance each and every year, and having recently attained Group 3 status and been moved to the week prior to the Melbourne Cup, it is increasingly acting as a lead-in to bigger events for many horses. It might be overshadowed by plenty of races throughout the spring, but for a Wednesday afternoon event in country Victoria, it will garner plenty of attention.