No less than eight apprentices will turn out for the Walgett Cup meeting on Saturday and stewards will be kept on their toes with up to seven competing in any one race.
Jacob Golden (a3), Zara Lewis (a4), Yvette Lewis (a1.5kg), Casey Waddell (a2), Elissa Meredith (a3), Nyssa Burrells (a0, Liam Blanch (a2) and Jackson Searle (a3) make up the contingent, and Western Districts steward, Todd Smith said it was a good opportunity for the jockeys.
“The positive is the number of apprentices we have there, it is a good sign for the future,” Smith said.
The fact that it was a non-TAB meeting helped both the stewards and jockeys, and while Smith admitted the odd mistake was likely to happen, he expected the racing to be competitive.
“It is a good grounding for them to go to those not-TAB meetings and it is a lot less pressure there,” Smith said.
“They can learn there and make mistakes there and any mistake isn’t scrutinised as much because it’s not being broadcast to the whole world.”
Smith and his fellow Racing NSW stewards will make sure the young hoops are ready for anything unexpected come Saturday.
“Anyone who hasn’t ridden there before, they get driven around the track, and we look at unique factors, like the turns, the straight, the barriers and any patterns that have formed there in the past,” Smith said.
While Smith will be kept busy, he was looking forward to the meeting that has been well-supported, with a bumper six-race-program attracting 75 acceptors.
“Obviously tomorrow, the highlight is the field sizes,” Smith said.
“I haven’t seen a non-TAB meeting that far west with as good fields in the last 20 years.”
Walgett Jockey Club President, Cam Murray, was pleased to see the strong fields and believed the club was lucky, with so many horses needing as run.
“I’ve been with the jockey club for 10 years and these are the biggest fields I’ve seen in that time,” Murray said.
“We’ve been a bit lucky because Mallawa was rained out and a few other meetings were also rained out in the last month or two, especially these regional ones, and I think there is a few horses out there that need a run.”
The club expects a big crowd, with the racing and the social side of the event combining to make it a big down for the town of Walgett and surrounds.
“Brewarrina had a great crowd, and we hope to have a big one too,” Murray said.
“Hopefully it’s not too cold, and with the sewing season coming to a close, hopefully people get off their tractors and come in for the day.
“With Covid and community events being cancelled, we hope it draws a bit more in, because it’s a good social day out with friends and family.”
In what shapes as a big day for the club, gates open at midday, there is a bar and barbeque, a jumping castle for the kids, while fashions on the field with be hotly-contested with cash prizes.
On track, the 1400m Walgett Cup worth $10,000 is the feature of the program, while racing jumps at 1.35pm.