Californiagrandcru (Image: Racing Photos)
A field of battlers heading towards next month's Jericho Cup will be chasing a slice of notoriety at The Valley on Friday night.
The eight-race card opens with a Benchmark 78 handicap over 3800 metres, the longest flat race held at the inner-city venue for at least 20 years, possibly ever.
The Valley ceased hosting jumps races in 2009 and there's never been a race held beyond 3000m thereafter. The track circumference is 1805m, so the 12-horse field will need to complete just over two laps of the circuit to run 3800m.
Ballarat trainer Amy McDonald will be represented by Californiagrandcru, a $14 chance with BetEasy that has experienced mixed luck since joining the stable from Peter and Paul Snowden earlier in the year.
This time last year he was a Benchmark 64 handicap winner over 2400m at Sandown Lakeside but he has been unplaced from eight outings for McDonald, albeit displaying glimpses of ability at times.
"He's shown a heap in training since joining us, the intention has always been for him to go jumping since he joined us," McDonald said.
"We don't know why he performed like he did two runs ago at Warrnambool and then we put the blinkers on at Gawler for his last-start run but it was just a horribly slowly run race and our rider made a mid-race move and it just didn't work out.
"I'd like him to settle midfield, rather than last, and hope the blinkers on will allow him to settle a little bit more on the bridle and come with the one run.
"If he could reproduce that run from The Valley three starts ago and could settle in a handier position from the barrier then I think he could be right in it."
The winner of Friday's Valley stamina test is granted direct entry into the field for the $300,000 Haynes Paint Jericho Cup (4600m) at Warrnambool on December 1.
Sunday's Canberra meeting will also host a Jericho Cup heat over 3400m that offers automatic qualification to the winner.
Other horses that have qualified for this year's Jericho Cup field are Hello My Friend (Charlotte Littlefield), Cappo D'Oro (Fred Kersley), Social Element (Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott), Da Deputy (David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig), Aigne (Neil O'Dowd) and Ablaze (Ciaron Maher and David Eustace).