Pat Farrell’s history with the Muswellbrook Cup, known this year as the $80,000 Holllydene Estate Wines Muswellbrook Gold Cup (1500m), goes back to 1968 when he won the race with the 50-1 outsider Fei Mar.
Fourteen year later he won it again with Province, ridden by Danny Burns, and has not been back to the winners stall for his home town cup since.
On Friday he has a big chance to finally bring up cup win number three with his good mare Alart, to be ridden by Sydney jockey Josh Parr.
However there is one factor that has the 75 year old trainer worried. She has never won beyond 1400 metres.
“She won the Reginald Allan over 1400 metres at Rosehill last year and she hit the line well,” Farrell said.
“I think she will get the 1500 metres but there are no certainties in racing so we will have to wait and see.
“She is fit and well and has drawn a good barrier.”
The Listed Reginald Allen is a race for early three year olds and Farrell said the mare had matured and strengthened up in the 14 months since.
At two starts back from a spell leading into this race, both at Rosehill, Alart ran third over 1100 metres and fourth over 1200 metres with Parr riding her in the first of those two.
In 25 starts she has only gone over 1400 metres twice, for her win in the Reginald Allen and when sixth at Randwick in June before going to the paddock.
Farrell is one of eight participants who have a history with this race with one of them, Robert Thompson, going back to 1975 when he won the cup on Gloomy Isle for trainer and one time Muswellbrook Racing Club president, Jack Sheppard.
Thompson, Australia’s most winning jockey, has won the cup twice more since then, on Peshada for his late father Arthur in 1981 and on Wyngrove for Albert Stapleford in 2001.
Today he rides the Jeremy Sylvester trained top weight Aomen but the nine year old has not won in more than two years.
Alan Scorse, now training out of Newcastle, won the cup three times as a jockey and will start Nadacheva to be ridden by apprentice Jackson Murphy.
“He won’t know himself down on 54kgs after some of the big weights he has had to carry,” Scorse said.
“It’s a nice race for him.”
“I think she will get the 1500 metres but there are no certainties in racing so we will have to wait and see.Pat Farrell
The trainer, who is recovering from a program of chemotherapy to fight a tumour behind his eyes, will not be at Muswellbrook but a win would certainly lift his spirits.
“It would be too long a day for me and too tiring so unfortunately I will have to stay at home,” Scorse said.
At his last two starts Nadacheva carried 59kgs when a close second over 1600 metres at Scone and again when second with 58.5kgs over 1500 metres at Port Macquarie.
Race one of the eight race program jumps at 1.45pm.