Lloyd Williams-owned gelding Excluded has been scratched from the $250,000 Listed 2012 Bendigo Cup (2400m) in favour of chasing direct qualification into the 2012 Melbourne Cup by running in the Group 3 2012 Lexus Stakes (2500m) at Flemington on Saturday.
The five-year-old was one of 14 acceptors for tomorrow’s Bendigo Cup but was unlikely to gain Melbourne Cup qualification by running in the race.
With a weight allocation of 50kg and currently sitting at 41st in the order of entry, only a win in the Lexus Stakes, which offers ballot exemption, will see him make it to the biggest stage in Australian racing.
It opens up the Bendigo Cup field and leaves just one horse, Queensland gelding Spechenka, in the field who remains in Melbourne Cup acceptances.
But Spechenka is also unlikely to gain qualification as he currently sits in 39th position in the order of entry with 50.5kg.
The withdrawal of Excluded is likely to see fellow Williams-owned runner Practiced installed as favourite after showing terrific form so far this spring.
By Encosta De Lago, Practiced has finished in the top two in all four of his spring outings with his most recent start a one-length win over 2000 metres at Caulfield.
Another top Bendigo Cup fancy is Darren Weir-trained import Puissance De Lune who has won three of six starts since making his Australian debut in May.
Others in the Bendigo Cup field include dual Group 1-winning veteran Fiumicino and Adelaide gelding Sky Raider.
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