Port Macquarie trainers have the best record for snaring the Wauchope Cup and that trend could continue at the running of the $32,000 race over 1500m at Port Macquarie Racecourse on Sunday.
Winning the race from Port have been Marc Quinn with Explosive Scene in 2017, Quinn again with Storm Ahead in 2014 and Neil Godbolt with Never Doubt Me in 2012.
But since there has been more prizemoney in country racing, local trainers have to have "one out of the box" with so much competition from big name trainers who mix it regularly and win races at provincial and city tracks.
This is why as of Tuesday, Newcastle trainer Kris Lees is away out in front in the country trainer's premiership with 113 winners.
The Mid North Coast Racing Associations best in the same premiership are Wauchope trainer Col Prosser with 21 wins, followed in equal second on 16 by Port mentor Neil Godbolt and Taree's Wayne Wilkes.
But it is Wilkes that is leading the prizemoney with $378,300 with Godbolt on $359,957 and Prosser's $340,525.
Wilkes is on a bit of a roll of late thanks to mare Lucciola Belle, winner of the $150,000 MNCRA Championship at Port on February 17 and then second in the $500,000 final at Randwick on April 6.
He also won with five-year-old grey gelding Subtle Grey in the $27,000 Wingham Cup over 1600m last Friday.
So will he again be looking at winning two local cups in a row with six-year-old gelding Fuel?
It was a handy 2.68 lengths fifth behind Victorem in the MNCRA Championships heat last year and the winner again showed its class with a win at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
The gelding has won two races at Port over 1506m in March and April last year, so the cup distance is no worry.
It has had three starts from a spell since winning over 1550m at Canterbury on December 14 last year.
Last year's winning trainer, Scone's Brett Cavanough with Brazen, hasn't nominated but provincial trainer Lees has two nominated among 20 for the race, they being Our Gravano and Top Prospect.
Port's Quinn has nominated Cogliere which was runner-up to Brazen last year whereas another local trainer Tas Morton has Komachi Force and O'Driscoll nominated.
The eight-race TAB card has attracted 147 nominations with gallopers coming from wide districts.
Acceptances are taken on Thursday.
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