By Geoff Newling
The 2018 Akubra Quirindi Cup has two major highlights when it jumps into record racing action on Friday, February 16.
The first highlight is the Quirindi Jockey Club and Cup sponsor Akubra will celebrate 30 years of collaboration.
“According to our records they started their Cup sponsorship in 1988,” QJC Secretary Ted Wilkinson said.
“That makes it 30 years this year. That’s a long time for any sponsorship let alone a major cup sponsorship and there have been some pretty good Cup winners in that time.”
Country Cups king Akwazoff won the 1996 Quirindi Cup after winning the Walcha Cup. He then won two Gunnedah Cups as well as a Grafton Cup.
Merv Corliss trained Akwazoff and returned to win the 2007 Quirindi Cup with Victory Charm while his daughter, Lesley Jeffriess, won the 2010 Quirindi Cup with All Again.
Tamworth-based trainers Cody Morgan and Craig Martin also have Cup victories under their belts - Morgan winning the 2011 edition with Prussian secret while Martin won in 2014 with Brave Ali.
Craig’s brother Tim Martin also tasted Cup success, winning the 1999 Akubra Quirindi Cup with Captain Starlight who also won two Armidale Cups for him.
Mark Mason also won two Quirindi Cups, the Tamworth trainer winning in 2004 and 2005 with Tara Express.
The other highlight for the QJC is the fact the 2018 Cup meeting is the wealthiest on record.
The Akubra Quirindi Cup (1600m) itself is worth $50,000, the most the QJC has handed out, while there is a $40,000 Lightning, a $40,000 maiden and $35,000 2YO sponsored by Emirates Park.
“It’s a Showcase meeting,” Ted Wilkinson said.
“It’s the most prizemoney we’ve ever had ($285,000) and it’s also a fundraiser for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service.”
The 2018 Akubra Quirindi Cup meeting has a preview on the Thursday night (February 15) when a Calcutta is held at the Quirindi RSL Club
Tickets in the Calcutta will be sold from 6pm with dinner at 6.30pm and then the Calcutta itself.