Three months of work to hold Wallabadah Cup

IT TAKES three-and-a-half months to prepare the track and this year Wallabadah Jockey Club has 20 kilos of sausages and 46kg of scotch fillet on-hand for punters.

But the 161st running of the famous Wallabadah Cup, a race even older than the Melbourne Cup, will today perhaps see an even more extraordinary feat and combination of numbers achieved.

For the first time in living memory and perhaps in the history of the race, says jockey club president Bill Kelly, the same horse-and-jockey combination could win their third successive Wallabadah Cup.

Daniel Northey and eight-year-old gelding Tompeppa, who have won the past two cups, will also race in today’s feature race, the Glen Artney Truck Repairs Wallabadah Cup.

They had drawn a wider barrier this year – barrier eight – but would still be in with a chance to make history in the race, Mr Kelly said.

“You don’t know the winner ‘til it comes past the post and that’s what happened with Tompeppa last year: he was last as they came around the last bend and he surged past to win,” he said.

The famous up-hill, down-dale course was tricky for the jockeys to negotiate, especially as they came down the hill before the last bend, he said.

“It is a big ask on that hill; it take a bit to hold them down the hill,” Mr Kelly said.

Plenty is happening off the track, too. Fashions on the Field will more than likely be judged between the third and fourth races.

“If you put it up near the Cup it takes away the glamour of the Cup,” Mr Kelly said.

“A lot do make the effort to dress up ... you generally find a lot of people make a great effort.”

For the kids, there’s a clown on course and Landmark will raffle 2011 Melbourne Cup winner Black Caviar racing memorabilia, with proceeds going to Wallabadah Public School. 

Mr Kelly will be pleased to see 1000 people through the gates, although in previous years – he says the Inverell Cup was previously run on the same day – excellent crowds numbering anywhere from 5000 to 8000 would attend.

“The meeting of January 1, 1994 was probably Wallabadah’s biggest on record. The meeting played host to 9500 racegoers,” Garry Coxhead wrote in the December 10 issue of the North West magazine.

Mr Kelly said: “We’ve got the diehards ... that try and get there the night before and pitch their tent.

“We’ve had one gentleman that’s been coming for 25 years.”

Politicians come occasionally, too – Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson and federal independent member for New England Tony Windsor have both attended. 

Mr Kelly is hoping it stays dry.

“I know it’s going to be hot, but I can’t see a storm coming – and I don’t want one,” he said.

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