By Geoff Newling
Armidale Jockey Club has been inundated with nominations for Saturday’s Guyra Cup meeting on a weekend where Scone Race Club is also expecting big nominations for Sunday’s Hunter and North West Racing Association $150,000 Country Championship Qualifier (1400m).
Nominations for the massive Scone meeting close 11am tomorrow for a meeting dispersing $310,000 in prizemoney. Apart from the $150,000 HNWRA Qualifier there is a $40,000 maiden handicap as well as six support races, all Country Showcase races worth $30,000.
Armidale kicks off a big two days in the HNWRA when they stage their Guyra Cup meeting on Saturday, a seven-race TAB meeting highlighted by the $30,000 Guyra Cup (1400m) and a $20,000 Armidale Cup Prelude (1900m).
Armidale Jockey Club secretary, Jim Dedes, said all five support races are worth $20,000 as well making it a $150,000 day: “The winner of the Armidale Cup Prelude also gains direct entry into the Armidale Cup on Monday, March 20,” Jim Dedes said. “Going to be a big (Armidale) Cup day after the local council granted us a half day holiday for it on March 20.
"Haven’t had it for three or four years, used to get great crowds of around 3000 before but when they cut the holiday we were getting less than 1000. Great to have it back.”
Nominations for Saturday’s Guyra Cup closed 11am today with 141, including 27 for the Guyra Cup: “The noms are huge, unbelievable really with Scone racing on Sunday as well. It’s going to be a massive weekend for racing up here (HNWRA). The Scone Country Championships is going to be huge, absolutely huge."
Heading the Guyra Cup list is 2014 winner Single Spirit. Ross Stitt and Robert Thompson then returned to win last year’s Cup with Shazza’s Bubbles as well. Single Spirit has now won 12 of his 53 starts for $256,625 in prizemoney and boasts wins in country cups such as Sawtell, Casino, Kempsey and Wellington but hasn’t started since December 9 when 13th to Bodegra Negra in the Coffs Harbour Cup.
Also in the entry list is Moree gelding Free Billy. The Peter Sinclair-trained six-year-old son of Bel Esprit won his ninth start in 29 goes when he won at Goondiwindi over the Guyra Cup distance (1400m). It took his prizemoney to just under $90,000 for his Boar Boar Moree syndicate. He has won his only two starts at Armidale as well.
Another notable Moree entrant is the Peter Blanch-trained Kyogle Town while Scone trainer Greg Bennett has nominated two, Lucky Nic and Taste Of Money.
Guyra publican, Ian Cook, also has Our Blevic nominated. The owner/trainer has had some good fun with the six-year-old son of Blevic who has won five of 38 starts with 13 placings. He has won just over $81,000 in prizemoney and comes off two fourths at Grafton after a good spell.
“Be nice for a Guyra horse to win a Guyra Cup,” Ian Cook said from the Guyra Hotel where he has been the publican for the last nine years or so.
Fellow trainers Terry Vidler, who has nominated Monday’s Expert for the Guyra Cup, and Paul Grills, who has Kingston Time nominated in the Armidale Cup Prelude, also drop in from time to time to discuss Guyra racing tactics.
The Armidale Cup Prelude also attracted a healthy 17 nominations with Armidale mare Zarabeel chasing a third successive win. An exciting staying daughter of Savabeel, she is now trained at Armidale by Stirling Osland and has won stylishly at Armidale (1900m) and Muswellbrook (1750m) at her last two outings for the up and coming young trainer.