THE Taree-Wingham Race Club cup carnival starting today will notch a number of firsts.
"It's my first carnival as chairman,'' Taree Race Club chairman Greg Coleman said yesterday.
"It will also be our CEO Brian Leggatt's first and our curator's first. And we also have a new chef at the Winning Post Function Centre.''
The carnival concludes on Sunday when the $60,000 XXXX Gold Taree Gold Cup over 2000 metres will be the feature. Mr Coleman is confident a crowd of around 2500 to 3000 will attend Sunday's meeting.
"That will make it one of our best in the last 10 years,'' he said.
"We're keeping a close eye on the weather forecast and it's supposed to be fine. And there's a lot of talk around town, with people saying they will be attending.
"Our corporate areas have been well-patronised and that's always promising.''
Mr Coleman has been on the race club's committee for the past 18 years.
However, he admits this didn't really prepare him for the amont of work required in the organisation of the two-day carnival.
"The race club has been my main job this week,'' he smiled.
"My other job has taken the back stage a bit.''
Mr Coleman said the fields for today's meeting are 'tremendous.' He admits to being a bit disappointed there'll only be 13 starters for the cup on Sunday, but said the field is still strong.
He races one of the fancies for the cup Single Spirit, trained by his close mate Ross Stitt and to be ridden by another mate, Robert Thompson.
"To win a hometown cup particularly with a couple of great mates associated, would be a great honour,'' he said.
"But we'll see what happens on Sunday - it's an open race.''
Mr Coleman is also pleased with the response to tomorrow night's calcutta, where Racing Hall of Fame trainer Lee Freedman will be the special guest. Freedman will also attend the chairman's luncheon on cup day and will be on track for some of the program.
"We're getting up towards 200 for the calcutta and that's excellent in this financial climate,'' he said.
Tickets are still available, however, Mr Coleman said anyone still wanting to attend should contact the club today.
Meanwhile, Times racing correspondent Doug Ryan selects Single Spirt to win the cup from Planetarium and Zar Zar Binks. His preview appears as part of today's cup liftout.