A sensational 23 nominations from provincial and country stables have been received for the $32,000 Wauchope RSL Club Wauchope Cup (1500m) at Port Macquarie Racecourse this Sunday.
Trainers have backed the eight-race TAB meeting with a mammoth 165 nominations.
They come from Scone, Gosford, Wyong, Newcastle, Coffs Harbour and the Mid North Coast.
Notable for the cup is Coffs mare Sofin, trained by Shannon Fry, winner of the Port Macquarie Cup, Who Is Game, trained by Michael Byers from Taree, the galloper having Wingham Cup and Tuncurry Forster Cup wins, and Cogliere, trained at Port by Marc Quinn, a Sydney winner.
Cogliere has had 23 starts for five wins and prizemoney of about $272,000 and in April won at the Sunshine Coast.
A record crowd attended last year’s cup despite the rain and the club is hoping the predicted fine weather will entice more to watch the card.
Last year’s winner was Quinn’s Explosive Scene, ridden by 17-year-old Irish apprentice jockey Robbie Dolan, which was backed sensationally from $31 early fix TAB odds to start at $6.50 and it won by a neck in a thrilling finish.
Some big-time trainers have won the cup – provincial premier trainer Kris Lees scoring with mare Parraay in 2016, and the quest will continue in earnest on Sunday.
Mid North Coast patrons can enjoy the skills of their two leading country jockeys, Ben Looker and Belinda Hodder.
Looker, 27, rode 97 winners last season and this year is poised to break the 100-mark should injury or disqualification not happen.
Hodder, 28, is having her best season in being the leading country woman rider and can break the 50 wins mark easily with six weeks of the season remaining.
Hodder hails from Wauchope and Looker isn’t far away at Kings Creek.
Both jockeys are well sought after by trainers throughout the state, Looker having ridden his best galloper in Victorem, trained at Port by Jenny Graham, it scoring in the $150,000 Qualifier for the $500,000 Country Final of The Championships at Port Macquarie and then winning the final at Royal Randwick in April.
President of the Wauchope Jockey Club Greg Partridge said he hoped Wauchope residents get behind “their” cup.
“There can be no excuses for not being trackside on Sunday…it is a great community, social occasion.
“There will be free buses ferrying patrons to the races and back home again, they operating from the Wauchope RSL Club,” he said.
Recent rain and sunshine should have the track looking great after a month’s rest from racing.