Rivalry – there is nothing quite like it – and in Saturday’s Men Of League Mile at Wagga there will be plenty at stake at some of the best gallopers from two regions do battle.
As players and officials from the past and present celebrate rugby league’s achievements and tell a few old stories at their raceday, out on the track bragging rights will be on the line for gallopers and their connections from the Southern and South East districts.
The field for the feature race is fairly evenly split with runners from both regions - the horses who perform up to expectations likely to advance to next month’s Snake Gully Cup at Gundagai.
Wagga has strong representation with Danetrille, Zarlu, Didn’t Even Kiss Me, Gentleman Max and outsider Gun Trace, Albury with the top weight Spunlago and Annaman from Wangaratta.
But it’s the presence of the South East runners that appear to have the right form with Who’s Knocking and Athonis leading the way along with stablemates Newtown Bluebag and Thunder Road as well as American Time.
Throw in Bondo from Tumut, who is capable of showing up at big odds, and it’s a perfect warm-up for the Snake Gully Cup and also Wagga’s Ted Ryder Cup in December.
Wagga trainer Gary Colvin said it’s one of the toughest mile races he's seen at Wagga for some time and he is hoping his representative, Danetrille, can make the best of a suitable draw in three.
“The draw will be a help in a very tough race,” he said. “Danetrille has always been fairly consistent, but this time in after a good spell and with a bit of maturity he is going better than ever. He used to over-race, but is a lot more settled which is helping him finish off his races.”
Zarlu is a nine-year-old, but you wouldn’t know it hoe he has been racing of late. The veteran flew home to finish second in the Cootamundra Cup with Danetrille third. He then rocketed to the finish line again at Warwick Farm at his next start to finish second.
Athonis has the right form to win after finishing third in a Highway at Randwick when he reached the lead inside the 100 metres. He followed that up with a fifth under 59 kilograms at Parkes and drops four kilograms on Saturday.
The front-runner is likely to press forward with Who’s Knocking who will be having her first try at 1600 metres. The consistent mare won consecutive races before being placed behind Bring A Secret in two strong races including the Tony Campbell Cup at Canberra.
Who’s Knocking has only missed a place once in her nine-start career and is likely to start one of the favourites along with Athonis.