It’s the pot of gold owners are chasing - the $200,000 Tamworth Gold Cup later this month – but firstly some trainers will test the credentials of some possible contenders on Tuesday.
The Great Northern Tamworth Cup Prelude (1400m) on Tuesday will give some likely prospects a better guide as to whether they are legitimate chances in the feature on April 23.
Leading trainer Kody Nestor will saddle up two of the best chances in what is a big week for the stable leading into Saturday’s $500,000 Newhaven Park Country Championships final at Randwick.
The Tamworth prelude is a warm-up to one of the biggest weeks for country trainers with Nestor to be represented by Activation in Sydney.
He has other races to keep him occupied this week with What The Fuss and The Bald Eagle lining up on Tuesday.
Nestor would love to have a stable full of horses as honest as What The Fuss which has since finished second at his past four starts since winning the Cowra Japan Cup in January.
While he hasn’t won, his owners and Nestor have been more than satisfied seeing the five-year-old maintain a high level of consistent racing.
“He always seems to find one horse a bit better, but in saying that he has bene so honest and tries very hard,” Nestor said.
“He was getting up in the Benchmarks so he had a few starts in Brisbane and earned $40,000 then came back and ran second in the Wellington Town Plate after a five weeks break from racing.”
What The Fuss, who will be ridden by Anthony Cavallo, has the best recent racing statistics along with Total Recall which is having his first start back from a spell.
Nestor’s other contender, The Bald Eagle, has new owners after doing his previous racing in Sydney with the John Hawkes stable.
What The Fuss runs second at Wellington on March 28
The Bald Eagle, who will be guided by Grant Buckley, has raced once for Nestor for a third behind Banger at Canberra on March 17.
With the benefit of some race fitness and the return to country class, The Bald Eagle can book a spot in the Tamworth Cup is he performs strongly in the prelude, according to Nestor.
“He fits the mould of a country cups horse. He may be better over a mile so this race over 1400 metres suits at this stage,” Nestor said.
“I expect him to race forward, where as What The Fuss will be back a bit. What The Fuss won’t race in blinkers on Tuesday and will have the ear muffs on.
“He needs a start before the Tamworth Cup and I expect him to be running on strongly.”
Nestor believes the Tamworth circuit will suit What The Fuss who “never runs a bad race when he can draw a good barrier”.
“The Tamworth Cup will be a hard enough race to win and What The Fuss needs this start before then,” he said.
“The Bald Eagle has been syndicated by his new owners so hopefully we can have some fun with him in races like the Tamworth Cup.”
It will be a hectic week for Nestor in the lead-up to the Country Championships with race commitments at Tamworth, Canterbury on Wednesday and Muswellbrook on Friday.
“I’m really looking forward to the final with Activation. There are some nice races coming up like the Tamworth Cup that you always try and have a horse good enough to race in,” he added.
What The Fuss (13) and Total Recall (1) are early favourites with the pair having contrasting barriers.
This could assist Total Recall who is first-up from a spell and has the benefit of two trial victories.