The Bendigo Cup will be a qualifying race for the Melbourne Cup 2011 after Racing Victoria allowed the Bendigo Jockey Club to increase the race distance from 2,200m to 2,400m as part of a two-year trial.
Held on the Wednesday before the Melbourne Cup, the Bendigo Cup’s previous distance of 2,200m did not allow the winner of the race to pass the qualifying clause to gain a start in the Melbourne Cup.
Between 1994 and 2009 the race distance was set at 2,400m but was reduced to 2,200m to help protect the quality of other Melbourne Cup lead-up races, the Group 2 Moonee Valley Cup on Cox Plate Day at Moonee Valley and the Group 2 Lexus Stakes on Victoria Derby Day at Flemington.
It is hoped that the move to increase the race distance and the impact it could have on the Melbourne Cup field will raise the importance and popularity of the Bendigo Cup. The race distance will be set at 2,400m for the 2011 and 2012 runnings of the Bendigo Cup, after which the impact of the change will be reassessed by Racing Victoria.