During an accomplished training career, Garry Kirkup has prepared well over 300 winners at 54 different tracks.
A Listed-winning trainer, Kirkup has enjoyed success at lofty heights that have taken him to Royal Randwick, Flemington, and the Gold Coast, but he’s not afraid of a trip into the country.
He’s won at Darwin, Warwick, Cairns, Murwillumbah, Harden, and Balaklava, to name just a few random locations amongst a mixed bag of country tracks he’s visited.
He’ll look to add another track to his ‘hit list’ on Saturday, with the Canberra trainer venturing to Tumbarumba for the first time.
Kirkup has entered four gallopers for the non-TAB six-race program, with Flying Emmy being set for the $18,000 Tumbarumba Cup (1400m).
The stable also has Star Stroke lined up to go around in the Benchmark 45 Handicap (1020m), last-start Tumut winner Ferrari Girl in the Class Two Handicap (1400m), and Field Agent entered in both the Benchmark 50 Handicap (1200m) and Class One Plate (1200m).
“I’ve never been there,” Kirkup told NSW Country and Picnic Racing when asked about his history at Tumbarumba.
“I’m a little bit nervous from what I’ve heard, but it sounds like it will suit some of my horses, and we’ll give it a go.
“Plus, a few of the owners have planned on going, so hopefully, those plans are still in place, and we can make a good day of it.”
Kirkup knows that Tumbarumba is an undulating racecourse, which races the Victorian way, but he doesn’t think it will impact his team.
“I’ve taken a few horses down to Melbourne over the years, and they’ve never lost their feet going the other way,” Kirkup said.
“We work our horses the opposite way at Canberra, and they are used to going both legs, and I really don’t think it’s a problem.
“Plus, some of these horses have been to Tumut, Adaminaby and Cooma, so they are used to those tighter tracks with the ups and downs, and I don’t think they’ll have much of a problem at Tumbarumba.”
Ferrari Girl looks the stable’s best chance on the day, with the four-year-old in good form following a first-up second at Gundagai on New Year’s Day before a decisive win in the 1200m Benchmark 50 Handicap at Tumut on January 13.
Formerly trained by Gary Portelli, the Menari mare looks a cut above non-TAB racing, and Kirkup is confidently heading to Tumbarumba.
“She’s trained on unreal after the Tumut win, and she is a tough little thing,” Kirkup said.
“She never looks like she’s had a run and will be hard to beat.”
Kirkup also likes Star Stroke’s chances.
The four-year-old was first-up for the stable, finishing second at Adaminaby in November before breaking through for a maiden win on a heavy ten at Cooma in December.
On December 29, she raced on her home track and wasn’t beaten far in a 1000m Benchmark 45 Handicap.
“The little grey (Star Stroke) only got beat four lengths at Canberra, and I think it will be a weaker race at Tumbarumba,” Kirkup said.
“On that run and her previous efforts, she should be somewhere in the mix.”
Field Agent is likely heading towards the Class One Handicap, and Kirkup believes the recent Queanbeyan winner will be suited at Tumbarumba.
“He’s going well, and he should handle the track, and if he does, he will be mighty hard to beat,” Kirkup said.
With a good group of owners on hand at a meeting that is predicted to attract a crowd of close to 2000 racegoers, Kirkup is looking forward to the day.
“I love going to these sorts of meetings,” Kirkup said.
“It’s much more fun than going to those meetings at Canberra and Wagga, which don’t get those big crowds.
“There’s always a good atmosphere, and the owners have a good day; we’re looking forward to getting to Tumbarumba.”
The Tumbarumba meeting has been well-supported by trainers and owners, with 75 gallopers nominated.
It’s set to be a big day on and off the track, with a bumper fashions on the field competition complementing the racing.
There will be full car and kiosk facilities, the TAB, bookmakers, and good country racing hospitality.
On Friday night, there is the Calcutta, and for more on the meeting, click here.