The Tamworth HRC January racing carnival is set to kick-off on Wednesday night at the Tamworth Paceway with the running of the $10,000 Pub Group Gold Nugget which will offer as the trophy a gold nugget.
The full field of 10 runners has drawn together a mixture of competitors from local stables along with Queensland and Hunter Valley pacers.
One local who is pumped and ready to hit the paceway is the Sam Ison trained Bassey for local owners Rod and Di Hazell.
"Rod loved it when we made it into the Group 2 Red Ochre recently at Dubbo after being a first emergency - he just enjoys watching her (Bassey) go around," Ison said.
He will also take the reins behind the Big Jim mare, who has notched up ten wins in her career.
"I reckon she is tough enough - most of her wins have been from racing out in the breeze (just outside the leader) or she can sprint when she wants to and has gone around this track (Tamworth) in 27 and 28," he said.
Drawing the six barrier on the extreme outside in the 1980 metre Gold Nugget race was not to Ison's liking.
"I was hoping for a seven or eight gate - out of the six barrier is a bit harder," he said.
"We will go around and see what happens. Her run last week was just coming back from a spell and didn't go as I quite expected but it is just good to be in the Gold Nugget race."
Bassey finished seventh to Feelingforarainbow from the Dan Russell stables with the Queensland pacer clocking 1.57.6 for 1609m in her last start at Tamworth.
After contesting the Pub Group Gold Nugget last year and finishing fifth to The Bus from the Aaron Goadsby stables at Singleton and driven by Guy Chapple with a mile rate of 1.56, Ison knows the kudos of the race and is hopeful of a local win.
"It is good that the race has attracted runners from everywhere," he said, adding "it would be good to see a local win the race again".
Ison will contest the Gold Nugget alongside his younger brother Tom, who drives for the Roy Roots Jnr stables in the Hunter Valley.
Younger Ison at this stage is yet to decide which runner he will take the reins behind in the feature race with the Roy Roots Jnr stables having two runners engaged - Alabama Shakes or Glengarry Rose, a last start winner at Tamworth.
"It will be game on for sure with Tom," Sam said.
"The trophy of a gold nugget is a good attraction as well and good to see that the race has been going for all these years. A gold nugget as an ornament would be a good thing," he added with a grin.
The Honour Board for the last 10 running's of the The Pub Group Gold Nugget:
2019 The Bus Trained by Aaron Goadsby Driven by Guy Chapple
2018 Onedin Highlander Trained and driven by Mitchell Faulkner
2017 Culinary Delight Trained and driven by Mark Callaghan
2016 Charli Dollar Trained by Darren Elder Driven by Brad Elder
2015 Major Gamble Trained and driven by Nathan Hurst
2014 Ultimate Art Trained and driven by Michael Formosa
2013 Karloo Mitch Trained by Barry Lew Driven by Robbie Morris
2012 Churchill Bromac Trained by Robert Clement Driven by Dean Chapple
2011 Any Cause Trained by Anthony Mabbott Driven by Anthony Varga
2010 Mister Skyrocket Trained by Julie Weidemann Driven by Local Weidemann