TAMWORTH Jockey Club is preparing for another big Melbourne Cup day meeting next Tuesday.
While there are just five races which have attracted 48 nominations, the day is one of the biggest on TJC’s annual schedule.
“It’s more about the Melbourne Cup day, very much a social sort of day for us,” TJC general manager Kay Jeffrey said.
The day will boast marquees, fashions on the fields and a free shuttle bus running for patrons.
There are five non-TAB races worth $6000 which will give it something of a picnic-meeting atmosphere.
Two of those races have had nominations extended but all five are restricted to eight runners.
That’s because of the lack of horses, jockeys and stewards to race, at not only Tamworth but Muswellbrook, where the Muswellbrook Race Club has a seven-race TAB meeting highlighted by two $25,000 races – the Muswellbrook Coal Company Bowman Sprint (900m) and the Mayors Cup (1750m).
Once upon a time the Hunter and North West Racing Association held four Melbourne Cup meetings – a Muswellbrook Cup meeting, non-TAB meetings at Tamworth and Moree, and a picnic meeting at Armidale.
HNWRA chief steward Shane Cullen still shakes his head in wonder at how he and his stewards managed to cope with such a widespread task.
As it is, Tuesday’s two HNWRA meetings will be a sizeable job.
Having the Tamworth meeting restricted to fields of eight is one of the better developments, he said.
“There are not enough jockeys and horses to go around,” he said. “It’s the one day of the year that happens.”
Ensuring the safety of horse and rider is paramount for stewards, so that is another reason why the fields are limited at Tamworth.
Jeffrey said it also gives the smaller trainers a chance to win as well, albeit in races where the winner receives just $3300 in prizemoney.
The meeting will be held on the club’s B grass, as renovations on the main track have started.
Track manager Lindsay Bowne and his staff are topdressing the A grass and hope to have the track ready for the December 4 meeting.
The feature race at Tamworth this Tuesday is the $6000 Allsopp Signs Benchmark 50 Handicap (1300m). It has attracted 11 nominations, headed by toprating Gondoleira, a six-year-old daughter of Host, who boasts three wins in 28 starts.
The former South Australian mare had her first start for Tamworth trainer Zach Hatch at Armidale last week, finishing fifth – beaten by just over three lengths by Victory Lass.
Fellow Tamworth trainers Adam Vine (He’s Some Boy), Troy O’Neile (Bianbitten) and Melissa Dennett (Bunny Bad Girl) also have nominated for that race, along with visiting trainers Gavin Groth (Celona), Anita Rossiter (Chevaria), Luke Thomas (Dark Elixir), Lea Selby (Exotic Art), Sue Bigg (Murphy’s Coal Dust), Dean McHardie (Roulette Belle) and Scott Thompson (Sir Aussie).
Nominations for the Class 2 1900m and Maiden Plate 1300m have been extended until 11am on Thursday.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.