QUIRINDI Jockey Club is finally running a Les Howard Willow Tree Cup race day in which most Willow Tree locals can attend.
In the past, Willow Tree Cup days have been run mid-week, so this Saturday’s Willow Tree Cup meeting is a first, said QJC secretary manager Ted Wilkinson.
“It will be interesting to see how we go,” he said. “It’s the first time we’ll be able to run the Willow Tree Cup as a TAB race on a Saturday … We’ve also got the same date next year as well.”
Wilkinson is also delighted by the 113 nominations for the six races.
The feature race, the $10,000 Les Howard Willow Tree Cup, is a benchmark 50 handicap over 1600m.
The top weight for the race is Quirindi-trained Rena’s Lad. But his trainer, Geoff O’Brien, is almost certain to bypass the race in favour of taking the six-year-old Arena gelding west to Garah for the $8000 B&W WC&R Hunter Memorial Talmoi Cup (1400m).
“Yeah, that’s where he’s more than likely going to run,” the laconic Quirindi trainer said.
Rena’s Lad received 62.5 kilograms for the Willow Tree Cup. He has the same weight in the Talmoi Cup, but is 5kg below top weight Track Flash in that race.
Rena’s Lad has had five wins and 12 placings from 44 starts and earned more than $84,000 in prizemoney.
O’Brien said the plan for the gelding was to contest the three Cups in the Golden Triangle Picnic series at Moree, Mallawa and Garah.
Rena’s Lad was fifth to Track Flash in the Boolooroo Cup at Moree and then second to the same thoroughbred in the Mallawa Cup.
Track Flash, who is striving to become the fourth horse to win the Golden Triangle, is the one to beat in the Talmoi Cup, O’Brien said.
“Pete’s horse has got the wood on us,” O’Brien said, in reference to Moree trainer Peter Sinclair, who prepares Track Flash and who won a Golden Triangle with Tapakeg in 2014.
“He’s [Track Flash] a pretty smart horse,” O’Brien said. “[I] don’t know how we can beat him, really. He is a class horse – a TAB horse in my opinion.”
Track Flash could win the $50,000 Picnic Final at Dubbo this year, O’Brien said.
“My old bloke keeps trying,” O’Brien said of Rena’s Lad. “Keeps lining up, keeps turning up and gives them a bit of a shock every now and then. He’s an honest old bloke and while his TAB days are dwindling, he can still hold his own on his day.”
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