With massive prizemoney of $200,000 on offer for the Carlton Draught Port Macquarie Cup highlight, the stage is set for an outstanding two-day carnival of racing commencing with the club's feature program to be conducted at Port Macquarie on Friday.
Some of the leading trainers and jockeys from Sydney and the provincials are set to compliment a strong local contingent for the prestigious event with the balance of the program littered with classy nominations.
The leading cup chance on paper centres around the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott trained gelding, Rapido Chaparro, who was responsible for a strong win at Canterbury a fortnight ago before a narrow second at Rosehill behind Dr Drill.
There are plenty of positives around the High Chaparral gelding, who is racing particularly well together with being suited by the cup assignment, and it will be interesting to see whether the stable elects to run the galloper at Port or a start in the Benchmark 88 Hcp at Randwick on Saturday.
The Waterhouse and Bott training partnership are regular visitors for this carnival with Social Element and Caped Crusader figuring in the placings over the past three years.
If the training partnership elect to accept in the Mid North Coast feature, it would be great to see whether the son of Amouage would be ridden by regular jockey, Adam Hyeronimus.
The former leading Grafton apprentice sits on 16 current wins for the new racing year and is riding with great confidence having recently completed his best season ever having earned horse stakes prizemoney of around $2.5 million.
The highlight was Belflyer's victory in the 2018 The Kosciuszko at Randwick and it was significant that Hyeronimus made the journey to Grafton last week to assess the condition of John Shelton's two current Kosciuszko entrants.
The popular hoop was successful on Tarbert in the open handicap before an impressive victory on Belflyer in a barrier trial.
The Northern Rivers gallopers join Jenny Graham's two local contestants, Victorem and Awesome Pluck, in the quest for the supremacy in the $1.3 million country feature to be conducted at Randwick on Saturday 19th October.
Leading Newcastle mentor Kris Lees has Aliferous, Mongolian Wolf and High Opinion nominated for the Port Cup with the trio looking well suited by Friday's middle distance journey.
The Lord Jim gelding, High Opinion, ran an even fifth in last week's Rosehill event won by Dr Drill and has been competitive in listed races including the Wyong, Ipswich and McKell Cups while Aliferous has had two runs since a spell in preparation for the feature.
Richard and Michael Freedman have a two-pronged north coast attack with the recent Bathurst Cup winner, Zaunkonig, joining Executive Chairman while Clarry Conners has shown interest around the chances of He's A Given.
Local stables are well represented with Dew Drop running a strong second for John Sprague in the Cup Prelude behind Lady Evelyn, with both exempted from the ballot following their performances.
O'Driscoll's effort when third in the same event after being trapped deep for a large portion of the event was very encouraging and it will be interesting to see whether local trainer, Tas Morton, elects to run the O'Reilly gelding in the feature or head to the $50,000 Hastings Cup over 1500 metres.
The other highlight on the card is the $70,000 Birdon Group Quality Sprint which is the feature short course event of the carnival and has attracted a strong group of nominations.
The stage is set for two great days of thoroughbred action with the Cup and Sprint this Friday and Steeline Raceday concluding the carnival and coinciding with the Spring Champion Stakes meeting at Randwick on Saturday.
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