Loftus looks to strike in Nyngan Cup

The Michael Loftus trained, Better Strike, pictured here winning at Cobar, will take on Sunday’s Nyngan Cup. Photo: Racing Photography.

Hobby trainer, Michael Loftus, will make the trip from Tullibigeal to Nyngan on Sunday with Better Strike set to contest the 1400m Nyngan Cup.

Loftus only has the one galloper in work, and while a Nyngan Cup win would be a career-highlight for the trainer, he explained he was only in the sport to keep busy on the weekends. 

“It’s hobby, I do it for a bit of fun,” Loftus laughed. 

“She is fun on the weekend and a good old mare, and I’m not playing footy anymore and need to do something with my time.”

Loftus trained Better Strike to a win at Cobar last year, and he explained the Nyngan Cup was the perfect race as he begins to stretch the eight-year-old out over more ground.

“I bought her out of Cranbourne, and I dropped her off with Trev (Sutherland) to see what she was like and he said she was a good mare,” Loftus said.

“’I got her back and I’ve been mucking around with her on the farm here at Tulli. She won out at Cobar and she run third at Parkes.

“I’ve been looking to start her over a bit of distance – Nyngan wasn’t the closest, but it suited her.”. 

The 2021 Nyngan Cup field. Photo: Racing Australia.

Better Strike returned to the races at Cootamundra recently, finishing third in the 1200m Class Three Picnic Trophy after a 57-week break from the races.

“She is going alright, she has had a bit of a foot issue in the past, but it has been good lately,” Loftus said.

“She ran a good race at Coota the other day, she got a couple of pairs back, which was probably a bit too far, but she came home nicely and if she puts in that sort of run, she should be thereabouts at Nyngan.

“We just need a nice sit in behind the pace.”

A Nyngan Cup victory would be just reward for the patience Loftus has shown with his mare, who he believes is going as good as ever.

“I had a bit of a read of the form line and if she runs the 1400m, I think she is good enough to run in the top three at least,” Loftus said.

“She is nearly the best she has been since we’ve had her.”

Apprentice jockey, Elissa Meredith will take the ride on Better Strike, and with the three-kilogram claim, the Tulli runner will only have to carry 52kg in the $12,000 feature event. 

Local cup hopes will rest with the Brett Robb trained top weight, Lucienne, who is set to carry 58.5kg, while Clayton Gallagher will take the ride. 

In a big day for Nyngan Anzac Day Races, the club hosting a huge day of racing, fashions, punting and the unique chance for all ladies to be an owner for the day. 

Club secretary, Wendy Robb, explained that all ladies on course would get the chance to experience owning a racehorse for the day – even getting a few tasty bonuses if their horse wins one of the six races on the program.

“We have a great initiative called ‘Ladies Own the Dream’ whereby all ladies own a particular racehorse for the day,” Robb said.

“Each ‘owner’ is able to join the presentation with the owners, jockey and trainers after each race and receive a bunch of flowers and a bottle of bubbly.

“This is all free and courtesy of Nyngan Jockey Club committee members.”

Ladies have added reason to attend the meeting, with a bumper fashions on the field no doubt attracting those who appreciate the finer things in life, while the club will be doing their part to attract punters and younger racegoers too.

“Our Fashions on the Field has over $3000 worth of prizes and there’s also our Punters Club with all unclaimed returns donated to Legacy,” Robb said.

“We have free face painting and jumping castle for the kids and a Calcutta (was) on Saturday night at Nyngan RSL – it’s going to be pumping next weekend at Nyngan!”