Astute Canberra trainer Matthew Dale will have a crack at next month's $170,000 Wagga Gold Cup (2000m) with Animalia after his win at Murrumbidgee Turf Club on Sunday.
Animalia ($4.00) ensured Dale will again have a strong presence at the Wagga carnival with a win in the $37,000 Kooringal Stud Murrumbidgee Cup (1800m).
The win booked the four-year-old a place in the Gold Cup and Dale confirmed he will take his place in the race.
"This was to tell us whether we'd run him in the Gold Cup," Dale explained.
"He's had a really good preparation and his last run, the form out of that is super. He's not a brilliant horse, but as you can see there, he'll get into a fight and really stick his head out. He's done that all prep.
"He'll drop a lot in weight and I think he'll improve a little bit off that run. We've been pretty kind to him over the last month with this in mind. He should capitalise off this and come back and deserves a crack at the Cup."
Former Gundagai boy, now an apprentice jockey in Canberra, Billy Owen rode Animalia to victory.
Fellow Canberra stayer High Dude ($31) was ¾ lengths back in second after giving a big sight, while Zarlu ($16) made up a stack of ground in the straight to run third.
Owen made it a double when he steered Fraternater ($5.00) to victory for Neil Osborne in the Duporth Queen of the South Prelude Benchmark 58 Handicap (1300m).
Mookareena ($3.00) won the Southern Cross Austereo MTC Guineas Prelude 3YO Benchmark 66 Handicap (1400m) for Barbara Joseph, Paul and Matt Jones and jockey Rebeka Prest.
Former Wagga trainer Jade McDonald, now based at Goulburn, won the John Clark Maiden Plate (1200m) with Maxbux ($6.50).