Not since 2011, when Voice Commander crossed the line first in the Gundagai Cup, has Billy Owen won his hometown trophy.
The 29-year-old rode for Nick Olive on that day, and the pair will team up again on top weight, Maid of Ore, when they look to take out the 2021 edition of the time-honoured race.
Owen reminisced on his win in 2011 ahead of Sunday’s big event.
“I don’t know how many rides I’ve had in the cup, but I won on Voice Commander,” Owen said.
“He was a good old horse, he got thrown in at a big weight, and I claimed three kilos. He went straight to the front, and never looked like losing.
“He was a good horse and won the Queanbeyan and Wagga Cups.”
Maid of Ore is the top weight and one of the market favourites in the $32,000 event, and comes out of much stronger races, including the Canberra and Albury Cups.
“Her form doesn’t read great, but if you go into her form, she has done her job and gone through her grades,” Owen said.
“She is thrown into the weights again on Sunday, and if she can get through that one, she will have the confidence to go onto the bigger ones.”
The six-year-old has won nearly $300,000 in prizemoney during her 25-start, seven-win career, and looks set to be on the path to the Wagga Cup in May, but Owen admitted Maid of Ore needed some luck.
“She is a class horse. She is a very tricky horse to ride, she doesn’t do too much wrong, but she needs things to go right for her,” Owen said.
“Even though she has drawn 10, I’m glad she drew 10 instead of 1, I can work the race out from there, and that’s the thing with her, she can sustain an 800m run and still get through to the line.”
Owen explained that winning the Gundagai Cup for Olive would be a fitting result, after his previous success for the stable and owners.
“Me and Nick, we get along like a house on fire. Even with the owners and the colours, I’ve won some races for them over the years,” Owen said.
“Another Gundagai Cup on the mantle piece would be nice, it’s not a Snake Gully Cup, but it’s not far behind and I hope I can win it for everyone.”
The Brungle product has found himself in the winner’s circle a lot of late, booting home victories at Moruya, Nowra, Wagga and Corowa in the past few weeks, which is just reward, after Owen worked his way back from injury and subsequent weight problems.
“I’m just trying to chip away and keep things going,” Owen said.
“It’s good to be back riding.”
In a big day for the Gundagai-Adelong Race Club, a strong eight-race-program jumps at 12.30pm.