It is a picnic racing carnival that draws upwards of 6000 people across three meetings, quite a few horses from New South Wales and Queensland, and huge post-meeting after-parties boasting headline acts from across the country and five-star cuisine.
Bush racing’s Golden Triangle has defied the coronavirus-driven odds and will jump from the barriers on Saturday, May 30 – with quite a few history-making schedule changes.
Firstly, those few thousand patrons won’t be trackside because of COVID-19 gathering restrictions. Secondly, the three-meeting series has been compacted into one, six-race card – a first for a bush-racing carnival that is galloping into its 90th year.
The carnival, traditionally held at Moree, Mallawa and Talmoi over a six-week period in May and June, will now be held at one, tight and compact meeting at Moree.
The 2020 one-dimensional Golden Triangle will feature six races, including the 1300m Moree Boolooroo Cup, Talmoi Cup over 950m and 1600m Mallawa Cup.
A brace of class 2 handicaps over 900m and 1200m as well as a maiden plate over 1400m rounds out the one-off meeting.
There will be no crowd, no fashions-on-the-field, no bookmakers and no after-party.
But crucial points for the rich NSW Picnic Racing Championships Final at Dubbo in September will apply for all races, bar the maiden plate.
The final, first held in 2017, was the brainchild of NSW Picnic Racing Association secretary Deidre Adam and Tullibigeal Picnic Race Club president Craig Tyack.
Nyngan maestro Rodney Robb collected the inaugural $50,000 final with Security Code then returned 12 months later to win with Austin.
Mark Ward’s Gadfly won last year’s edition, relegating Moree trainer Peter Sinclair’s luckless gelding Free Billy to second.
Sinclair has trained 13 Boolooroo Cup winners since 1995 – including the last eight in succession.
He saddles up Danigree, hoping to get enough points to qualify for the rich Dubbo final.
Danigree, winner of the Bush Battlers’ Cup at Inverell late last year during a purple patch of form that netted three wins from five starts prior to spelling, cemented his Boolooroo Cup credentials with a last-start, close-up third behind Fourth Protocol and Mymill at Moree on May 9.
“His second-up run at Moree was very good, given he usually takes three or four runs to hit form – he looks spot on for the Boolooroo Cup,” Sinclair said.
Sinclair also starts I Am Dynamic in the 950m Talmoi Cup as well as impressive last-start winner Crystal Billy and tough mare Elavada in the 1600m Mallawa Cup, a race he won last year with Oh Why.
“I Am Dynamic just might be in need of the run but he always goes well fresh so we’ll have a crack at the race,” Sinclair said.
Crystal Billy, from the 2012 Boolooroo Cup-winning mare Crystal Club, was super-impressive when leading most of the way to score on its home track over 1600m on May 9.
“We know he’ll run the mile and he should get down in the weights,” Sinclair said.
Crystal Billy is owned by Dominic and Karen Neate, who also shared ownership of Tapakeg, which in 2014 became just the fifth horse since 1930 to win all three cups at Moree, Mallawa and Talmoi in the one season, joining triple-crown winners Mulgate (1961), Passing Trade (1970 and 1973), Yakinova (1976) and Gefilte (1988).
“Crystal Billy won well at Moree and did it at both ends – the Mallawa Cup looks a nice race for him,” Sinclair said.