Hopefuls chasing a start in the Australia’s longest flat race, the Jericho Cup, get their chance to experience the course in a qualifying race at Warrnambool on Friday.
The Road To The Jericho Highweight (3300m) provides the winner a start in the $300,000 Jericho Cup (4600m) run through the paddocks of Warrnambool racecourse in November.
Friday’s race is through the paddocks, usually reserved for steeplechases, that includes the famed Grand Annual Steeplechase (5500m) on May 6.
The 11 runners in Friday’s race will be aiming to become the second qualified runner for the fourth running of the Jericho Cup, restricted to Australian and New Zealand-bred horses, joining Only A Mother, winner of the Jericho Cup Consolation (4065m) last year.
A total of 11 guaranteed start races are staged across Australia and New Zealand.
Added this year is a race at Albany in Western Australian, in April, and at the Gold Coast in November. The final qualifying race is scheduled in Canberra on November 14, two weeks before the grand final, while there are two heats run in New Zealand.
“The Road to the Jericho provides the first opportunity of the year for a horse to claim their place in the great race and the fact that it will be run through the paddocks at Warrnambool, so recreating the conditions for the Cup itself, adds an extra layer of excitement,” Racing Victoria’s Executive General Manager – Racing, Greg Carpenter said.
As well as the guaranteed start races, a points system is used to determine the remainder of the Jericho Cup field.
Topweight on Friday is last start Sandown winner Field Of Lights.