IT IS coming down to the crunch for local hopefuls Sebony and Knocka Norris in this weekend’s $35,000 Bega Cheese Bega Cup.
Both horses have been accepted in to the feature race in a field of 13 to be run on Sunday afternoon.
However, Sebony’s place in the race is uncertain according to trainer Michelle Strickland.
Strickland said she was still in talks with the horse’s owner after Sebony was also accepted for the longer 2200 metre Sapphire Coast Cup.
Strickland said she had a lot of faith in Sebony’s endurance after finishing third in the Moruya Cup over 2000 metres recently.
Strickland said she specifically had to talk with Sebony’s owners, but felt the longer race would suit him better.
“We’ll probably run him in the longer one I think.
“He’s won the Bega Cup before, so it’s not something we have to aspire to now.
“We’ve got to place him where we think we can win,” she said.
The Stricklands of Kalaru have been working with a team of four horses for the race.
“This is the hardest meeting of the year, you’ve got to have them all ready for it.
“[Training] hasn’t really been harder than normal, the horses have been going pretty well.”
Strickland said she thought the two-day carnival format was a good idea and hoped to see it bring in larger stables of trainers to create a big event.
“It’s a great way to get trainers in from other areas,” she said.
Meanwhile, Tarraganda trainer Grant Bobbin has been hard at work with Knocka Norris.
Bobbin said Knocka had been bred for distance events and is right at home in 2200 metre races, but “if he’s on his day he’ll go alright in the 1600 metres”.
“The plan was to get him in the Cup this year so that’s what we are doing.
“The owners Robert Grant, Henry Lucas and Peggy Norris are hopeful he could come away with something and are looking forward to a good day of racing out there.
“Knocka - he’s got no weights, he’s drawn a good barrier, hopefully he shoots off, he could be the underdog.
“Good luck to the owners, I would like to see him go well for them,” Bobbin said.
Bobbin has been hard at work with a team of four horses to compete, but the two-day format hadn’t been causing him any more headaches than normal.
“We’ve got four horses running.
“It’s all the same really, if you’ve got the horses then you get them in.”
Sapphire Coast Turf Club secretary/manager Rob Tweedie said it could be the biggest race meet the Far South Coast has ever seen.
“This is the first time it’s ever been done,” Tweedie said.
“We are working from the bottom with this being the first year, but we want to work with tainers and tourism to see it develop.”
With a huge purse of prize money on the line, including the $35,000 Bega Cup, Tweedie said the carnival had attracted plenty of interest from trainers across the state.
“We’ll see trainers coming from far away because of the increased prize money.”
Tweedie said if the local community got behind the event it could become an iconic annual race meet.
“We’d like the town to get behind the idea and come along to the track for some fun.
“If we really get behind it then it will benefit the whole shire, things like accommodation and restaurants.
“It’s the first year, it might not be gigantic, but as we work on it we hope it could become a big sporting event for the weekend,” he said.