By Geoff Newling
Gunnedah Jockey Club’s Christmas Cup meeting has attracted an astonishing 190 nominations today. The annual seven-race meeting, where all winning trainers receive a magnificent Christmas ham, had plenty of rivalry too with Tamworth racing today and Muswellbrook Race Club’s Muswellbrook Cup meeting on Friday.
MRC’s $100,000 Muswellbrook Gold Cup (1500m) is the feature race Friday and it attracted 27 nominations but the eight-race TAB meeting, also a Racing NSW Country Showcase meeting with a $50,000 Sprint as a main support race, had just 144 nominations.
The seven-race Gunnedah meeting attracted almost 50 more for one race less: “Wow,” was GJC secretary Mark Storey’s initial response when told of the 190-strong tally. He had been busy answering telephones and enquiries and hadn’t been able to check the nominations when they appeared this morning.
“That’s amazing, I’m really shocked by that - 45 noms in one race. We might have 10 races! They are great fields, we’re really happy with that and most of them are all locals (trainers).”
He said the club could not be happier with the response given the fact it was wedged between the Tamworth meeting and Friday’s Muswellbrook Cup meeting, especially with the fact some $350,000 in prizemoney was available at Muswellbrook for their Cup and Showcase meeting on a track rated a Good 4.
“We’re a Soft 6 at the moment, had some good rain but will be better by Saturday,” he said of a meeting which has also had great response from racegoers with the marquees all full and sponsorships overflowing.
“We’ve got two busloads coming from Somerton and Tamworth,” he said. “Got people coming from the Central Coast, a bunch of people from Sydney and a heap from Newcastle.
“It’s a big Christmas party. The marquees have been full for a couple of weeks. Last year we had 750 in the marquees, this year we have more than 800.”
The feature race at Gunnedah is the $20,000 Mannion Drilling/Ultrafleet Christmas Hams Cup (1500m). While one race had 45 nominations, the Christmas Cup had 14 and has had nominations extended until 11am tomorrow.
“So we could end up with more noms,” Mark Storey laughed. “It’s a record I’d say, haven’t that many nominations before.”