By Tony Megahey
The historic Armidale Cup on Monday has attracted two multiple Group One-winning trainers, and while one is a racing institution in the area, the other has yet to see the regional track.
The McDonald’s sponsored $40.000 TAB Cup (1900m) is one of the strongest in years on an in-depth eight-race program and officials are relieved they have avoided the torrential rain that has played havoc with regional meetings.
Walcha’s Tim Martin, who revived his career with the spectacular Group One win of Heavens Above in the Coolmore Classic at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday, has won the Armidale Cup on numerous occasions. He has again accepted with last year’s Cup winner Hunter Jack (64kg).
Newcastle’s prolific Paul Perry of Choisir and Fastnet Rock fame, has his first Armidale starter in last start Quirindi Cup winner Secret Web.
“Over the years, I haven’t had a runner ever at Armidale, so I don’t know the track, but we’re looking forward to it with a horse in form,” Perry offered from his Newcastle base. “Secret Web is a tough honest on pace type, coming off a solid ‘1600’ win and has a nice weight for Rachel King.
"Up to 1900m won’t be a worry at all.” Rachel claims a half kilo off the 54k’s and is advantaged by barrier seven on a noted front runners track.
Meanwhile Martin, prior to Group One Glory last Saturday, won his recent home town Walcha Cup with Hunter Jack carrying 58.5 kilos for Greg Ryan. The durable stayer races in the same local ownership as the brilliant Heavens Above.
Hunter Jack has a succession of tough recent Rosehill placings, and won last year’s Armidale Cup with 61kilos.
“Tim has been a wonderful supporter of our meetings for many many years, he’s won the Cup on half- a- dozen occasions, and being from Walcha it’s always a special occasion for the locals,” offered 20-year Armidale Secretary-Manager Jim Dedes.
“Hunter Jack has the huge weight, but has probably earned it with consistent city form and his Country Cups. But still, our Cup is a claiming race.
“Great to have a trainer of Paul Perry’s standing with his first runner here. And thankfully we’ve only received minimal rain while other areas have been deluged.
“At this stage we’re racing on a soft five, going into Monday. You can never tell but hopefully the weather will hold up raceday. Our Cup has around a 150-year history.
"Right back to the bushranger era where the old timers said, you had to be on guard if you had a fast thoroughbred.”