CLEVER Hans could change tack and launch an assault on Monday’s $35,000 Tooheys Armidale Cup (1900m), while stablemate Sarah’s Son might have overcome an illness to tackle the $25,000 Wild Oats Armidale Newmarket (1100m) when nominations closed yesterday a little lighter than Armidale Jockey Club officials had hoped.
While the club received 136 nominations for the Cup meeting it has had to extend nominations for its three feature races – the Cup, Newmarket and McDonald’s Armidale Thunderbolt 2YO Handicap.
The AJC received 13 nominations for its Cup, just 10 for the Newmarket and 11 for the Thunderbolt 2YO but that didn’t deter AJC secretary Jim Dedes from predicting a bumper Cup day.
“It is a bit disappointing,” Dedes said.
“But I’m sure we’ll pick up a few more nominations from the extensions.”
He believes some of the recent washouts of Armidale Cup meetings and others might have “scared” a few trainers off.
“I don’t know why but there might not be all that many 1900 horses around although our Class 3 1900m on Monday has 17 or 18 in it.
“We are hoping for a few more in the Cup and Newmarket. The two-year-old is always light and that nomination list might be a little better than we normally get.”
He said the Armidale track is rated a Dead 4 or 5 at this stage.
Tamworth trainer Leon Davies 19 might start Clever Hans in the Armidale Cup after initially preparing to go for a short break before the Tamworth Cup.
“He pulled up well after his fourth at Canterbury the other night (last Friday),” Davies said.
“We were thinking about a little spell before the Tamworth Cup but we put him in the paddock when we came home the other night and got him back in today.
“He was unlucky not to run a place the other night too. Might not have beaten the winner but couldn’t get out. It was a super run. I couldn’t be happier with him. I’ll just wait and see what weight he gets and what the weather does..”
He said Sarah’s Son has overcome a disappointing effort in the Quirindi Lightning when eighth to The Jackal.
“His blood count wasn’t right that day,” Davies said.
“He’s improved a heap since. We’ll also have a senior rider on at Armidale too.”
o The Armidale Cup is shaping as something of a local cup assault for a large syndicate of owners.
Brave Ali is trained by Tim Martin at Rosehill and Martin is chasing another Armidale Cup with a syndicate that contains Dedes, AJC and HNWRA president Rod Watt, Harley Payne, former Guyra rugby league coach Craig Waters, Thunderbolt 2YO sponsors Troy and Benita Johnson, building contractors Brett and Mark Wallace, clerk of the course David Knight, St Kilda publican Harley Payne, his son Tom Payne and nephew Nick Dooner.