By Geoff Newling
Gunnedah Jockey Club could have as many as 111 runners when it stages Thursday’s Somerton Cup meeting at its Riverside course.
Racing NSW added two extra races to the seven-race program after the GJC received more than 160 nominations late last week for the first of three Winter Carnival Cup Meetings at Gunnedah.
GJC secretary/manager Mark Storey is preparing for an extra busy day. “We had big nominations and they have split two races,” he said.
“It’s another vote of confidence for our track although Lindsay (track manager Lindsay Bowne) got a bit of shock when I told him we had nine races.
“We’ll deal with it though and have a big day planned.”
The GJC will distribute almost $200,000 for the TAB meeting highlighted by the likes of the XXXX Gold Keith Swan Memorial Benchmark 65 Handicap (1200m), GJC Breaker Morant Lightning Prelude Benchmark 70 Handicap (1000m), Sutton Family Arthur Gore Memorial Class 3 Handicap (1400m) and the Bective Station Somerton Cup (1600m).
The Somerton Cup has drawn a field of 11 with last start winners Cervinia (Damien Lane) and About Time (Gavin Groth) lining up.
About Time, last start winner of the Binnaway Cup, jumps from barrier 11 for his Gunnedah trainer and is one of three Cup runners trained on the track. Sally Torrens (Buck Rogers) and Graham Shields (Just As Dapper) will also be represented on Thursday with Shields accepting in both the Somerton Cup and Keith Swan Memorial with Just As Dapper.
Nine-year-old gelding Just As Dapper has had one run back from a four week spell, a 12th of 12 at Coonamble, and has drawn barrier six in the Somerton Cup and 13 in the Keith Swan Memorial.
Buck Rogers, a five-year-old gelding son of Northern Meteor, has been a consistent galloper for sally Torrens since she bought him as a maidener. He’s won five of 44 starts and two of his four starts at Riverside.
“He was only beaten a couple of lengths at Dubbo the other day,” Sally Torrens said.
“He carried a bit of weight too, went up from 54 to 58.5kg but he drops to 56.5kg on Thursday.
“Greg Ryan rides as well, that always helps and Greg did win on him at Moree for me too.”
She has two other runners Thursday, one having his first start for her and another is an emergency.