This Saturday’s Manilla Cup may be held in Gunnedah but as Gunnedah Jockey Club’s secretary manager Mark Storey puts it: “This is Manilla’s race day.”
“It was before my time but as far as I’m aware, the Gunnedah Jockey Club created it to be inclusive of all the surrounding towns and villages by giving them their own race day and identity,” Storey said.
“We’ve got busloads of people coming. The people of Manilla love their racing and it’s good to honour that.”
The Gunnedah community get in on the act as well.
“The people of Gunnedah and the surrounding areas support it really well,” Storey said.
Everything is in place for a cracker day of racing.
The weather gods are smiling on Gunnedah with a top of 26 degrees expected on a mostly sunny day for the TAB meeting and the track is in tip-top shape.
“The place is looking excellent. We’ll be racing on a good 4,” Storey said.
“The nominations are good and we’ve got a good field in the Manilla Cup.”
The Manilla Cup race day is a Sky Racing 2 meeting.
Storey described this type of meeting as a testing ground of sorts with a mixture of horses with a wide range of experience racing on the day.
“Basically, it’s where the TAB-class horses meet the non-TAB horses which creates a good racing environment,” Storey said.
“It’s not that easy to pick the winners because it’s got a mixture of both. I’m pretty happy with it, there’s some good horses in the mix.”
While the Royal Hotel Iris Rennie Memorial Manilla Cup is the main feature race on the day, the Oaktree Retirement Villages - North West Stayers Challenge is one of the most interesting.
The 2700-metre challenge is one of few staying races in the country.
Storey said the longer races were likely to happen more and more often.
“There’s not enough horses [to hold more staying races in the country],” Storey said.
“It costs a lot of money to prepare a stayer but they're gradually increasing the amount of staying racing.
“We’ve had a few over 2300 at Barraba and Racing NSW is trying to promote a series of longer distance racing.