The number of local race meets may have shrunk since the Glen Innes Cup started, this Saturday’s line-up for the annual event will see no shortage of competition.
Long gone are the days when the town hosted 12 meets a year but the number one race on the calendar will launch out of the gates with horses from all over northern NSW and into Queensland set to speed around the track.
Glen Innes trainer Paddy Cunningham has won the main race three years in-a-row and will be back in it again this year with Cup specialist Carry On Jake.
“He is going good, he got beaten in a photo [finish] in Inverell last week so everything is going good,” Cunnningham said.
“There's a few good chances there, Mishani Stealth, he won the race in Armidale that we got beaten in first up, Devlann has won three of his last four and was only beaten by a couple of lengths at Randwick and he is going to get in on the minimum so he is going to be hard, there's a few there looking strong.
“It is going to be tougher than it has been in the last few years anyway.”
Glen Innes Jockey Club president Mark Ritchie said trainers and owners make their way to the local meet because of the prizemoney on offer.
“We are very central so we have a huge catch area - right out Gunnedah way, Moree, Tamworth, Scone, all along the coast from Port Macquarie to Ballina,” he said.
“We generally end up with close to full fields most years. In the longer races we are allowed to start 14, in the shorter races we are only allowed to start 12.”
The day will be dedicated to Glen Innes sporting stalwarts Alex Robertson-Cuninghame and Noel Slade who died in 2016.
“On a sad note we have lost a number of people in the last year, Alex Robertson-Cuninghame was a massive supporter of racing,” Ritchie said.
“We are dedicating the day to him and Noel Slade who has been there for yonks, he was a supporter of everything.”
There will also be a jockey’s challenge in honour of Darren Jones who was killed in a racing accident in Warialda last year.
They will be awarded points for each placing with the results to be tallied at the completion of the final race and the highest scorer receiving a pewter mug and $300.
Fresh off the 10th anniversary of cricket’s pink Test match in Sydney, the local jockey club will also be raising funds with the aim of securing enough to land a breast cancer nurse for Glen Innes Hospital.
There will be collection boxes scattered throughout the grounds for donations.
A yabbie race will also be contested with the runners named after legendary Glen Innes horses.