A decision to move their annual Nowra Cup meeting to the first Sunday in December is appearing to be a fruitful one for the Shoalhaven City Turf Club (SCTC).
Originally scheduled to be run and won in May, the cup meeting was moved to December in 2020, and former Racing NSW Country Chief Executive and current SCTC General Manger, Paul Weekes said the meeting was beginning to grow in popularity.
“It’s very exciting because it’s been a meeting we have tried to build up in recent years,” Weekes said.
“We moved it from its traditional May slot to summer in a bid to rebrand it, and obviously we’ve dealt with Covid through that period, but now we are starting to get some momentum.
“The year before, the crowd was a touch over 1000 and this year, our goal is to take another step, and if it remains a good day weather wise, we would like to host 1500 or more and keep growing it from there.
“There are some good signs too. The Caravan park is full, people are out and about, and we have been able to capitalise on the Christmas season, which we have done with local business hosting Christmas parties on Sunday.”
The Nowra Cup is one of 29 qualifiers for the 2023 Big Dance, and Weekes believes his club’s inclusion in the $2.5 million country cup series only adds to what is going to be a bumper meeting on Sunday.
“The fact that our cup is a part of the Big Dance adds another layer to the meeting, and that little bit more promotion and prestige,” Weekes said.
“The fact that we are part of a select group of country cups that are a pathway to the Big Dance is a feather in the cap for the club, and one that will lend itself to creating a bigger event.”
While racing will take centre stage on Sunday, Thoroughbred Events Australia will host the club’s fashions on the field, and Weekes is expecting a good field of colts and fillies to do battle for the prizes on offer.
“We have got fashions on the field. Sharon Lenton is coordinating it, and she tells me she has got around $10,000 in prizes,” Weekes said.
“She is coming down with a group, and it is very professionally done, and she has some great prizes, including 1% share in a horse. To be honest, I am almost tempted to throw on the suit myself.
“Plus, we have our own purpose-built fashions on the field deck, and it’s used two to three times a year, but Sunday will be our biggest day.”
As far as the action on course, an eight-race Showcase program, carrying $295,000 in prizemoney, will be run on a good four at Archer Racecourse, with the $65,000 Nowra Cup the feature on the day, and the club is looking forward to running on top of the ground after what has been a wet and difficult period for the industry.
“I don’t think I would have ever said this at Nowra, but we would have liked some rain,” Weekes laughed.
“We were forecast for rain on Sunday and Monday, but only got 2mm. We will fire up the irrigation and I suggest we will be racing on every bit of a good four.
“There is good grass cover, and we haven’t raced since or Mollymook Cup Day in middle of October, and we had the track out two metres for that meeting, but the rail is back to the true and it should be a very good surface to race on.”
Racing kicks off at 1pm on Sunday and gates open at 12pm. For full fields, click here.