The Gunnedah Cup field has been hailed as one of the strongest in years, as the jockey club prepares to welcome a bumper crowd for its most prestigious meeting of the year.
Along with the quality lured for the $40,000 features race, the club has been buoyed by the 217 total nominations for the eight-race TAB Showcase meeting, the "really good" condition of the track and the forecast fine weather. It is hoped the meeting will attract a crowd of up to 2000.
The Cup field - headed by Country Championships Final contender Unbiased - has generated buzz, said Kevin Edmonds, Gunnedah Jockey Club president.
"We've had a bit of feedback from that [the field's strength] ... people saying we'll be going out there, and, yeah, what a good field it is."
The field also includes this year's Quirindi Cup winner San Francisco, trained by Newcastle-based Paul Perry, the well-performed Beauty Best, last-start Newcastle winner Vaga De Lago, and Present Sense, who won at Tamworth two starts back.
Scone trainer Brett Cavanough has six-year-old gelding Collins Creek entered in the 1600-metre race.
Unbiased, a six-year-old gelding trained by Tamworth-based Cody Morgan, is the top weight (63.5 kilograms) and has drawn barrier 17. The horse has five wins including the Country Championships Tamworth qualifier this year.
He has seven placings from 25 starts, for more than $306,000 in prize money.
"Cody supports Gunnedah pretty well," Edmonds said. "He's always got horses over here, which is really good."
Edmonds said the jockey club wanted a strong rebound from this month's Somerton Cup meeting being cancelled due to rain.
"We had 217 nominations," he said. "I've been president four, five years, and I'm sure that's the best we've ever had as far as nominations for a race meeting [in that time]."