Gunnedah galloper About Time has taken a likening to country cups but hasn’t been on best behaviour lately.
Trainer Gavin Groth said the six-year-old won the Binnaway Cup in his last start and also won the 1600m Curlewis Cup on home turf in Gunnedah about the same time last year.
It’s a good indication as any for Groth to nominate him in Thursday’s Bective Station 2017 Somerton Cup (1600m) at Gunnedah’s Riverside Racecourse.
“He handles the distance and runs well at his home track,” Groth said.
“He has hit a bit of form and his last start he won at Binnaway, so looking forward to him running.”
It follows a less than impressive few weeks for the gelding which polished a purple patch of form late last year with a Class 3 win at Rosehill. But more recently, he was erring on the side of a spell.
“He's been a bit disappointing this whole campaign,” Groth said.
“If it's not one thing, it's another wrong with him.
“We’ve always had out backs against the wall trying to get him to perform at his best.
“He's been around the mark on a few of his runs but he decided to put his head out at Binnaway which is pleasing to see.”
Groth trained last year’s Somerton Cup winner, Blu Boy Jag after an impressive ride by apprentice jockey Jake Pracey-Holmes.
About Time is not the only starter in the Groth stable showing promise.
Also nominated for Thursday is Jazzee Nicc who Groth has “a lot of time for”.
The chestnut is back from a spell after a first and third at Scone last outing.
“He has a tonne of ability but has a fair few things wrong with him at the moment,” he said.
“He’s hard to keep on the track but if we can keep him happy and sound, there's a few wins in him don't worry.”
Gunnedah Jockey Club had fielded 159 nominations by Monday morning – many more than its seven-race program could accommodate.
The maiden alone had recorded 37 nominations, such was the popularity.
Jockey club president Kevin Edmonds said given the high number of entries, an eighth race might be added to help ease the strain.
Another Gunnedah trainer to nominate is Graham Shields with Just as Dapper, which won the 2014 Manilla Cup. He also has Wollumbin in Class 1.
Gunnedah’s Sally Torrens also has a few nominated.
Joining them trackside will be fellow trainers Paul Berry, Pat Webster, Paul Messara, Rod Northam and Brett Cavanough.
Edmonds said the Somerton Cup has been a mainstay on Gunnedah’s racing calendar for years. Th is year the race was moved to May to allow for three feature meetings to be linked and celebrate 150 years of racing in Gunnedah.
Legendary trainers to be honoured at upcoming meetings include Keith Swan from Somerton.
Arthur Gore, who trained many winners from Somerton and Gunnedah, will also be recognised at the 150-year celebration.