By Julieanne Horsman
It’s been three years since the “Cannonball” went off at Coonamble Jockey Club. Wet weather saw the sprint race transferred to Gilgandra in 2016 and Dubbo in 2015.
This Sunday the Coonamble Cannonball returns to its rightful home and with a sunny top of 20 degrees forecast, locals couldn’t be more excited.
“We’ve had working bees and the committee has been at it around the clock,” Coonamble Jockey Club President Peter Burnheim said. “The track is fine order, there’s heaps of entertainment planned and we’re expecting a strong crowd.” The meeting has been named in honour of late local trainer, John Lundholm and his wife Colleen. John was a legend among the training ranks and won the Coonamble Premiership more than 30 times. Colleen was there supporting him every step of the way.
“Three of John and Colleen’s children, Christine, John Jnr and Lulu will be at the races and will be involved in a special presentation after the Coonamble Cannonball,” Burnheim said. “John made an unprecedented contribution to local racing and we are thrilled to have his children with us on this special day.”
The Coonamble Cannonball is a Country Showcase meeting with almost a quarter of a million dollars in prizemoney on offer across eight races.
Unsurprisingly every race is at capacity with emergencies, including entrants from as far away as Queensland.
“With prizemoney this good, why wouldn’t you travel here to try and win a share of it,” Bernhaim said.
$35,000 is up for grabs in the feature of the day, the 1100m Coonamble Cannonball.
Darr Lunn won the race in 2016 with Grass Cutter and while he hasn’t got a runner in this year’s event, his brothers do. Michael Lunn has former Queensland galloper Umgeni and Garry Lunn will be represented by last start winner Majaska who is resuming.
“Majaska is going great and he has a good first up record,” Garry Lunn said. “My only concern is the wide barrier.” Topweight Lake Lugarno will mostly likely start favourite though. The Barry Molloy-trained mare has only finished outside the top three once in her 14 start career and has drawn nicely in barrier 7.
“It will be three weeks since her last start but she has held her form and seems to go well when we space her runs,” Molloy said.
“She’s a good beginner and puts herself into the race. She is constantly creeping up in the weight though.”
Lake Lugarno will lump 61kg in the Coonamble Cannonball but has previously shown she can handle it.
In her most recent start in an open 1100m handicap at Dubbo she finished 2nd by a nose while carrying 60.5kg.
“That was a disappointing last-stride defeat but you can’t win them all,” Molloy said. “She is a lovely horse to train and we have had a lot of fun with her. Horses like her don’t come along every day.”
Off the track there will be plenty of entertainment for all ages at the Coonamble Cannonball meeting.
Kids can enjoy the jumping castle and face painting while stylish racegoers can compete in the popular fashions on the field competition.
There will also be a heritage display featuring old saddles and equipment, trophies, photographs and racewear from eras gone by.
The first race is at 12:10pm and entry is $15 for adults. A courtesy busy will be operating from town to the racetrack. For more details contact Coonamble Jockey Club.