By Tony Megahey
The historic Griffith Jockey Club enters an exciting new era with its first ever TAB meeting on Saturday attracting record nominations for the annual Eacom sponsored $20,000 Cup, headed by country Cups specialist Trevor Sutherland.
The popular Wagga Wagga trainer has fond memories of success at a race club that formed back in 1923, and nominated four performed regional gallopers, before finally settling on Gentleman Max and Benno’s Boy.
Gentleman Max, a winner of nine races, including last month’s Forbes Cup, is weighted on 59.5kg for Allan Chau, while Benno’s Boy carries 57 kg to be ridden by Bryan Murphy over the 1350m. “I won the Griffith Cup with a mare called Mrs Menzies years back, it’s traditional racing area where the community loves a day at the track, so their first TAB meeting is fantastic,” Sutherland enthused.
“The Cup is up to twenty grand now, far more than when I won it.
“Both of mine are decent winning chances, race fit and well weighed on what they’ve done, especially Gentleman Max, he’s showing his best form ever.
“We’re hoping to keep him progressing to get a run in that $200,000 Anniversary Highway over the Randwick Spring Carnival.
“He’s been competitive in a Highway before so I’m confident he’ll run a big race in this grade, and Benno’s Boy will race as honestly as he always does, lead or on pace and be tough to get past.
“Over the years Griffith is a typically western country track, you’ve got to be in the first four, so I accepted with horses that have that racing pattern.”
Both have drawn wide so Sutherland is certain to press forward.
Sutherland had also nominated well performed stable mates Hangin’ With Willie and Willie White Sox but they will be kept for suitable alternatives in the region.
The Cup top weight on 61kg is Victorian Don’t Get Excited, a nine race winner with a Caulfield placing in July, and competitive recently in far tougher class at Flemington and Sandown.
Griffith officials are catering for a bumper crowd to celebrate their new TAB standing for six races that mostly have capacity fields and emergencies.
On a highly anticipated community race day, the club has services for the corresponding interstate meetings, along with family entertainment. At present, the track rating is a good four.