Todd Payne has never won a Warialda Cup, but the Inverell trainer believes that could very well change come Saturday, with Newcastle Dancer set to contest the $9000, 1400m feature event at Warialda Jockey Club.
“No, we’ve not won the cup. We run second in it a few years ago with Uno Joker, but to be honest, we haven’t had that many runners in the cup,” Payne said.
“He (Newcastle Dancer) is going well, and he should be thereabouts if he can run the 1400m.”
The nine-year-old will step up a furlong for this event, which is Payne’s only real concern.
“He has been a good, old horse, but it’s his first time going 1400m, still, if he is going to run 1400m, it will be at Warialda down the hill,” Payne laughed.
The Court Command gelding should handle the tight-turning Warialda course too.
“It’s has a little short straight. He run second or third there last year in the sprint, so he should be okay,” Payne said.
A strong third at Inverell behind the current top weight, Liberty Head, on March 20, followed by a gutsy second at Coffs Harbour earlier this month has Payne thinking he will be cherry ripe for a crack at the cup.
“He has been going alright,” Payne said.
“He got jammed up for a bit of room at Inverell and had to hang and wait before he got the split.
“I think he would have been closer (to Liberty Head) if had clear running. In the 1215m at Coffs the other day, it was heavy, and he was making ground on them.”
Apprentice hoop, Casey Waddell, will take the ride, meaning Newcastle Dancer will only carry 53kg, while the Peter Sinclair duo of Liberty Head (61.5kg) and Solar Panel (57kg) are slated to carry much more.
“Casey doesn’t want to get off him, so he will be back on minimum after the two-kilo claim,” Payne said.
“She has ridden him his last couple and she really wanted the ride.”
Payne, who purchased Newcastle Dancer for a mere $1000, has had a blessed run with the 81-start veteran and winner of 10 races, earning just shy of $100,000 in prizemoney.
With Saturday’s step up in distance, and the fact they are racing in a potentially strong country cup, Payne said he would leave the riding to Waddell.
“I’m not too sure where he will end up, it depends on what the speed is like in the race,” Payne said.
“I don’t see too much early pace, but Casey can make her own mind up after they jump.”
Payne was looking forward to racing at Warialda, and he expected a big crowd to be out and about, supporting the club after missing 2020 through Covid-19.
“It is always a good day at Warialda, it’s a great little club and I think they will get a good crowd,” Payne said.
“I would love one (non-TAB meeting) every week, but it doesn’t sort of happen, but you have to have those non-tabbers and picnics, so horses can race in their class.”
It is looming to be a big day for Warialda Jockey Club, with the gates opening at 12pm, and racing commencing from around 1.30pm.
The Warialda Wombats will be on course, celebrated the storied history of their rugby league club, and a bumper fashions on the field, highlighted by four great themes, including the Vogue, the Vivacious, the Vibrant and the Vintage, will keep fashionistas entertained.
Tickets for the meeting can be purchased online and will also be available at the gate on the day.