Group Two winner Hardham will kick off his Brisbane Cup campaign in the Listed Bendigo Mile.
A bigger and stronger Hardham is set to make a reappearance at Bendigo which his trainer hopes will eventually lead to a campaign in Brisbane.
David Brideoake has selected Saturday’s Listed Golden Mile (1600m) on the roomy Bendigo circuit to launch the four-year-old’s winter campaign.
Brideoake has picked out the Group Two Brisbane Cup (2200m) at Doomben in June as Hardham’s target.
Hardham has drawn barrier 18 in Saturday’s field, which has a capacity of 16 runners and four emergencies, and will be ridden by Luke Nolen.
Brideoake took over Hardham’s training for his three-year-old autumn campaign after he started his career with retired trainer Peter Moody, for whom he was successful on debut in a Pakenham maiden.
After four spring runs for Mick Price he was then transferred to Brideoake, winning the Alister Clark Stakes at Moonee Valley before running third behind Jon Snow on a heavy Randwick track in the Australian Derby.
Hardham won second-up during the spring at Flemington over 1700m, eventually progressing to run 10th in the Caulfield Cup and backing up a week later, finishing last behind Winx in the Cox Plate.
Brideoake said Hardham had had an untroubled preparation to be ready to attack the 1600m first-up on Saturday.
“He’s an entire. He’s furnished now, is quite strong and he’s a really lovely horse,” Brideoake said.
“He’s a lot stronger now than what he was in the spring and we’re really happy with the way he’s working.
“We’re sort of hoping if it all works out we’ll head towards the Brisbane Cup.”
Brideoake has given Hardham three trials to prepare him for his return, each time with Nolen in the saddle.
He was given an easy time in his first trial over 800m in February before being asked to do a little more in his two most recent over 990m and 1190m last month.
In his latest he finished third to Observational, an opponent on Saturday, on March 19.
Observational is aiming for his third win in the Golden Mile having won in 2015 for trainer Robert Hickmott and again last year after being bought by clients of trainer John Sadler.