Sunday’s Armidale Cup is shaping up to be one the biggest of its kind in recent years and hoping to make it back-to-back Cup wins is Glen Innes trainer Paddy Cunningham.
The reigning champion has nominated last year’s winner Carry On Jake in the feature race.
Carry On Jake hasn’t featured in the winnings in his recent outings and, coincidentally, the six-year-old gelding’s last win was at the same event on March 20 last year.
Cunningham said Jake has trained well and the longer distance (1900m) will suit him better.
“He seems to be going pretty good, not having a lot of luck but hopefully it changes on Sunday,” Cunningham said.
“It is a bit longer than what he has been racing.”
With recent rain softening up the Armidale track, Cunningham believes it could work in his favour.
“He does like the sting out of the ground so a bit of rain is not going to hurt him,” he said.
“I don't think he is appreciating the hard tracks that he has been racing on.
“His record says he has nearly all he has won on soft tracks.”
Armidale Jockey Club secretary Jim Dedes said the club received 163 nominations in total on Tuesday with 19 for the Armidale Cup and 22 for Sunday’s main support race, the $25,000 De Bortoli Wines 2018 David Dye Memorial Newmarket Open Handicap (1100m).
“Only the Thunderbolt 2YO have been a bit light on (9) but we’ve extended that and hope to get a few more. If we get a field of eight or nine for that it will be a real good day,” he said.
Dedes said recent rain has the track in peerless condition.
“All the rain we’ve had has taken the sting out of the ground,” he said.
“We’re supposed to get 29 degrees on Friday so the track will be perfect on Sunday. We had a working bee the other day and the committee walked the track. They reckoned it’s the best they’ve ever seen it. Got a great grass coverage, thick too.”
The 19 Cup nominations contain a number of locally trained horses with good chances.
“We haven’t had a local win it since Keith Hiscox won it with Derivate Receipt or Stafford Wain won it and quinellaed the race as well, I think.,” Dedes said.
“Stafford has nominated Latitat (trained by his son William wain) for Sunday while Stirling Osland has two – Exilia Miss and Rage Against. Exilia Miss won at Coffs last Saturday and rage Against has been running some good races.”
“Lea Selby also has a good chance with Evangelist. He won the Quirindi Cup for her a couple of weeks ago. And Justin (Blanch) also has Bob’s A Dazzler too. So the local trainers do have a good chance in a race that will be a good country cup.”
“That’s what we’re all about too. Giving the battlers a good chance without any of the big stables here.”
MCDONALDS ARMIDALE CUP NOMINATIONS (Benchmark ratings listed where available): Allzin (Graham Hoy) 67, Backhouse Billy (Jenny Graham) 67, Bob’s A Dazzler (Justin Blanch) 70, Carry On Jake (Paddy Cunningham) 71, Egyptian Ruler (Ken Lantry) 73, Evangelist (Lea Selby) 76, Exilia Miss (Stirling Osland) 61, Hirokin (Jarrod Austin) 76, I’ll Miss You (Julie Pratten) 68, Jack Strikes Back (Neville Stewart) 62, Kasharn (Dwayne Schmidt) 66, Kilmarnock (Lea Selby) 63, Latitat (William Wain) 60, Loud Enough (George Woodward) 75, Packen (Brian Jenkinson) 58, Rage Against (Stirling Osland) 64, The Bohemian (Paul Perry) 57, Wraith Of Odin (Ethan Ensby), Youwaitandsee (Trevor Hardy).