By Geoff Newling
Scone Race Club and Armidale Jockey Club will distribute close to half a million dollars in prizemoney at major Hunter and North West Racing Association meetings this weekend.
On Saturday the Armidale Jockey Club stages its annual Guyra Cup Meeting and on Sunday Scone will host the Country Championship HNWRA Qualifier.
They will provide a $470,000 cash injection for local owners and trainers on what is thought to be the wealthiest racing weekend in the HNWRA’s history.
Only the rich Scone Cup Carnival, worth $1.97million across the two days (Friday and Saturday) offers more with this year’s May carnival receiving an $80,000 increase, some of which will go to the Noel Leckie Memorial Country Cup.
The prizemoney bonanza isn’t the only blowout at Scone and Armidale.
323 horses have been nominated for the 15 races at Armidale (7) and Scone (8).
There will be plenty of action off the track as well.
“We’ve got slides, jumping castles and face painting for the kids,” Scone race Club Chief Executive Heath Courtney said.
“We’ll also have the who’s who of NSW Racing here, coming to support the day.
“The track is in excellent condition and will be even better with the running rail going back to its true position.”
The running rail had been out 3m for the previous Country Championship Preview meeting where Art D’Amour won a thriller with a brilliant finishing burst to maintain his unbeaten record.
While the Cody Morgan trained gelding has won four from four starts, he isn’t the only unbeaten horse in the 28-strong nomination list.
Paul Messara’s Caerless Choice is also nominated and has won three from three for his Scone trainer.
“He worked here very well last Friday,” Heath Courtney said. “Him and Sassaby (Greg Bennett) went around.”
Jeremy Sylvester’s Three Sheets is the benchmark top rater with 80 while Greg Bennett’s Invienna has 76. Bennett’s three nominations Invienna, All Summer Long (75) and Sassaby (66) should also make it into the final field while fellow Scone trainer, Rod Northam, has After All That (70) and L’Elu (65) looking certain starters with Hooge (63) on the borderline.
Tamworth trainer Mark Mason may also have multiple starters with Strictly Concert (74) and De La Hoya (66)both nominated. Fellow Tamworth trainer Lesley Jeffriess seems assured of running with good mare Lonely Orphan (70) and Craig Martin might have a runner in both Sunday’s Qualifier with Mapmaker (71) and Saturday’s Guyra Cup with Our Masquerade.