By Chris Scholtz
This week’s two-day Snake Gully Cup carnival at Gundagai has soared to new heights with a record 374 entries received for the 15 races over the two days.
Only two of the 15 programmed races have less than 20 entries, meaning there will be a lot of disappointed connections as field sizes on Friday and Saturday are restricted to a maximum of 12 starters plus four emergencies due to the track design.
The popularity of the Snake Gully carnival, founded some 30 years ago, has grown year on year to become one of the biggest country racing drawcards in NSW.
With more than $460,000 prizemoney on offer it is little wonder this year’s carnival has attracted such massive entries from stables scattered throughout NSW, the ACT and Victoria.
There are 28 entries for Friday’s $70,000 XXXX Gold Snake Gully Cup (1400m) with the nomination list including four horses from the strong Joseph/Jones stable in Canberra.
Mercurial Lad wins the 2017 Snake Gully Cup
Head trainer Barbara Joseph has won the Snake Gully Cup twice and is aiming for a third win with the stable runners to come from last year’s winner Mercurial Lad, classy former New Zealander Almost Court, Rock On Zariz and Darts Away.
Almost Court has won six races for the Joseph/Jones team since he landed in Australia last year including the Listed Canberra Cup in March and will head the weights for Friday’s race.
The 6YO gelding has not raced since September when he failed second-up in the Group 3 Cameron Handicap (1500m) at Newcastle.
The fellow Canberra training partnership of Keith Dryden and Scott Collings is represented by the promising last start Rosehill Highway winner Handle The Truth.
Dryden is also a multiple Snake Gully Cup winner, having won the race twice with Green Waters in the 1990s.
Warwick Farm trainer Marc Conners won the Snake Gully Cup in 2010 with Morosi and is back for another crack with Celtic Love. The lightly-raced mare is resuming off a recent barrier trial win on her home track
Kyneton trainer George Osborne, a regular visitor to the Gundagai carnival, is represented by last start Moonee Valley placegetter Uptown Lilly.
Other notable entries include Bring A Secret (Nick Olive), Catch The Culprit (Joe Cleary), Dreams Of Paris (Mitchell Beer), Appoint Percy (Luke Pepper), Not Too Sure (Chris Heywood), Kentucky Flyer (Graham Payne), Ruthless Agent (Kurt Goldman), Zarlu (Peter Morgan), O’ So Hazy (Scott Spackman), Newtown Bluebag (Emma & Lucy Longmire) and Cha Cha King (Peter Maher).
The carnival kicks off with the traditional Snake Gully Cup Calcutta at the Gundagai District Services Club on Thursday night.
Scores of racegoers will back up on Saturday for the second day of the carnival featuring the Gundagai Services Club Hair Of The Dog Cup (1800m).