Country Cup quality highlights Orange program

Racing heads to Orange on Monday.
Image – Racing Photography.

With Racing Orange back into the swing of things, the Central Districts race club will host what should be an excellent seven-race card for punters on Monday.

Headlining the Christmas at Towac Park program is the 1410m Benchmark 74 Handicap, and this event would not look out of place as a Country Cup on any program, with some good Central and Western District horses looking to fend off the challenges from South East and Sydney trainers. 

The Mack Griffith-trained Amicus Curiae (Nick Heywood, 60.5kg) is heading the market at $3.60 and will commence from gate nine. 

The six-year-old is a six-time winner, with the 2023 Country Championships finalist tested in good company this preparation before breaking through for a well-earned win in the 1200m Benchmark 74 Handicap at Tamworth late last month.

According to the market, his biggest challenger will be Michael Mulholland’s in-form mare, Memories (Shaleigh Inglese, 58.5kg), which gets in nicely with gate one.

The five-year-old proved her class last preparation, and following a 14-week spell, she won first-up at Orange in the 1310m Benchmark 74 Handicap, triumphing by a length. 

The Dubbo galloper has been consistent without winning second-up, but this is a nice progression for a mare that will be targeting some big races over the next few months. 

Mulholland has entered a team of three, with Reward Seeker (Jake Pracey-Holmes, 62k) at $16 and Sea Of Flames (Kath Bell-Pitomac, 60.5kg) at $15, both capable on their day.

Clint Lundholm will send two around, with Transplant (Ron Simpson, 57.5kg) in the market at $5, while Macchina Volante (Zoe Hunt, 61. kg) will be the top weight at $17.

Transplant has been racing well, and she found the line strongly last start when finishing fourth, beaten less than two lengths by the abovementioned Memories. 

Macchina Volante is a Country Cup stalwart from up north who has found himself in Lundholm’s care, and on his best form, he deserves to be respected in this grade. 

First up from a 16-week spell, he raced in the same event as Memories and Transplant but looked in need of a run and didn’t necessarily thrive in the heavy conditions. 

Second-up and on top of the ground, connections will be expecting an improved run. 

The Dar Lunn-trained Praline (Clayton Gallagher, 58.5kg) was arguably the run of the race behind Memories at Orange last month, and while she has not won past 1200m, the seven furlongs shouldn’t be an issue. 

Gallagher is a big addition; the Dubbo galloper should get her chances from gate eight. 

The Rob Potter-trained Almost Persuaded (Coriah Keatings, 56kg) gets in nicely with the weights and fourth-up this preparation, the Canberra galloper will strip a lot fitter than some of the others in the market. 

She is certainly capable and was in from $9.50 to $7.50 at the time of publishing this story, so there is support for her. 

It’s set to be an exciting race and one that punters will see a few winners come out of.

For more on the race day and what’s happening, click here.

NSW Country and Picnic Racing Tips

Race 1: 3 Will To Excel $2.40

Race 2: 6 Fashionista $7 (best value)

Race 3: 6 Doola Teela $4.40 

Race 4: 5 Gutsy $2.70

Race 5: 10 Flying Chevrolet $4

Race 6: 2 Wolf Bay $4 (best bet)

Race 7: 12 Win – Almost Persuaded $7.50, Eachway – 1 Macchina Volante $17