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The race is now on in earnest to claim a ‘golden ticket’ to the $3 million Big Dance with just half a dozen chances remaining following Friday’s $70,000 Riverview Hotel Murwillumbah Cup.
The winner and runner-up in the Murwillumbah Cup are eligible for a coveted spot in the Big Dance run at Royal Randwick on Tuesday 7 November.
And following the Murwillumbah Cup, the only remaining qualifiers are Dubbo, Lismore, Bathurst, Taree and Coonamble. The Big Dance Wildcard is the final chance at Randwick on Saturday 21 October.
Friday's Murwillumbah Cup meeting doubles as a Racing NSW Country Showcase meeting with $300,000 in prizemoney.
Already there are 21 early entries for the Cup with Novocastrian trainer Kris Lees nominating six horses headed by Powerful Peg who has won her last two starts in the city at Warwick Farm and Rosehill Gardens.
"Friday promises to be one of the biggest events on the social calendar in the Tweed Valley and Southern Gold Coast area," said Timothy Booth, Tweed River Jockey Club's CEO.
"Thousands will attend our scenic Tygalgah Racecourse overlooking the beautiful Wollumbin while experiencing some premier country showcase racing."
Aside from the Cup, feature races are the $40,000 Boutique Thoroughbreds Tweed Newmarket Handicap (1200m) and the $30,000 Tooheys New Tygalgah Cup (2020m), with the winner exempt from ballot for the 2023 Metroll Lismore Cup (also a Big Dance qualifier).
"We are expecting Murwillumbah Cup Day to be our biggest yet and the Cup's resurgence can be largely attributed to the Big Dance initiative," said Booth.
"All races have the Showcase prizemoney status with worth a minimum of $30,000 so the day will be the highest amount of prizemoney ever at a Tweed River Jockey Club race meeting.
"There are several hospitality options available for the day including the Green Coast Crisp VIP Enclosure with a five-hour premium beverage package, a grazing style menu with self-service stations and live entertainment.
"The Galloper's Restaurant has a limited tables of eight available which includes a three-course culinary experience prepared by Chef to the stars Nigel Coulson, a five-hour premium beverage package and private bar and betting facilities."
The next day sees the running of the Gulargambone Cup featuring the Rural Trader Fashions on the Field with a Cup Calcutta commencing at 8pm on Friday at Gulargambone Bowling Club.
UPCOMING NSW COUNTRY RACE MEETINGS
Tuesday: Albury, Grafton
Friday: Murwillumbah, Tamworth
Saturday: Gulargambone (non-TAB), Berrigan (non-TAB), Bingara (non-TAB)