By Mike Witherdin
New Year’s Day on Monday sees the traditional Inverell Cup race meeting, this year with a record 9 races and 120 acceptors for the day. The XXXX Gold Cup will be the feature but a new highlight will be the addition of the unique Don Bartlett Bush Battlers Cup
New club president, Peter Tanner, said: "The club appreciates the support of trainers in the north-west to make the race a success and hopefully it will become a regular feature that helps the one day clubs attract runners in future years.
“We will have to build some temporary tie-up stalls with so many runners but with everyone’s help and patience and a bit of luck with the weather we hope it will be a big day for the club”, Tanner said.
The race is a special conditions 1400 metre race open only to horses that have qualified by competing at any of the 9 one day clubs in the area, but offering full TAB prizemoney and the club is delighted with a full field of 15 horses accepting having a benchmark rating ranging from 62 to 38 so it really is a race a “battler” can win.
Gavin Groth qualified About Time with a win at Narrabri before returning from a spell with a first-up win at Gunnedah and heads the weights with 62kg. Warwick Avenue has had a remarkable turnaround in form since an unplaced qualifying run at Bundarra followed by wins at Armidale twice and Scone and will be ridden by Queensland apprentice Nicholas Keal claiming 1.5kg.
Michelle Fleming’s St Luke qualified at Glen Innes and Narrabri and is a last start winner at Scone making a trio of horses at the top of the weights who might be said to be “the better battlers” who will have stiff opposition from Inverell trained Victory Lass (quailed at Deepwater) and Bonnie Sare (qualified at Mungindi).
Moree’s Nathan Sinclair, a bit of a battler himself, said he would support the race and has with three runners including new stable star Going Grey who won a lowly class 1 at Bundara to qualify but has since won impressively at Inverell non-TAB and Moree Sky2 TAB meetings and will have the services of Terry Treichel to navigate through the field in the long Inverell straight.