By Tony Megahey
The emotions will be running high for young trainer Damien Lane when he returns to his home town for another tilt on Sunday at the historic $45,000 Coonamble Gold Cup (1600m), on an eight-race TAB meeting.
Wyong-based Lane has consistent city performer Choice Larga placed to perfection with 56.5kg for Ben Looker, following competitive efforts at Rosehill Gardens recently behind Invincibella and Wayanka, following a Gold Coast placing to talented Lothario.
“It's close to the heart; I grew up in Coonamble just down the street from John and Colleen Lundholm and going to the Cup meetings as a kid was my inspiration for racing,” Lane enthused.
“I couldn’t imagine many races that would be more special for me to win. I’ve had a few attempts in recent years, hopefully this could be my turn; this horse is just so genuine and honest.”
Lane in June, won the Lundholm Memorial Coonamble Cannonball Showcase with Kangaru so is attempting a unique double in a race with marvellous traditions.
Over six decades the Cup has been won by racing luminaries, riding greats like George Podmore, Ray Selkrig, Norm Munsie, Billy Camer, Bill Aspros, Ron Quinton, Mal Johnson and in recent years, Greg Ryan has won the Cup on three occasions.
Choice Larga has yet to be proven over 1600m but can be guaranteed to lead or be right on the pace in a below capacity Cup field.
The topweight with 61kg is Present Sense, a winner of five races from 19 starts for Tamworth trainer Craig Martin. The latest with 61kg in the Barraba Cup. He was previously placed in the Narromine, Gunnedah and Maclean Cups. Present Sense and Choice Larga are likely to share favouritism.
“His runs have been good in town on pace against Saturday class opposition and that second to Lothario on the Gold Coast is also good form for a Country Cup. If he settles and doesn’t over-race, I’m confident he’ll get the 1600m,” Lane added.
“He should get the opportunity because these country features are generally run at a decent clip, so if he relaxes, we’re nicely in at the weights.”
Coonamble Jockey Club is once again catering for a booming crowd for one of the great community and social days in the region.