Trainers from Port Macquarie, Tamworth, Wyong and Kempsey have thrown down the gauntlet to knock local galloper Xerxes Dream off his pedestal in the $9000 Hastings Co-Op Woop Woop Cup (1800m) at Wauchope Jockey Club’s major meeting at its Beechwood Road headquarters at Wauchope on Boxing Day.
The winner of last year’s cup is now a 10-year- old and is giving away youth to its challengers despite having had four wins at the distance and track.
Trainer Michael O’Neill reckons it wouldn’t be a race over the distance at the track unless Xerxes Dream was involved.
He admits the gelding’s form going into the race may not be appealing but Xerxes Dream “loves the track and the distance.”
The field will not be known until acceptances today (Friday) but he said his charge was ready to give its best.
The lure of the time-honoured Woop Woop Cup is one of folklore and draws the club’s biggest crowd of the season to the event.
An interesting nomination is last start Gosford Picnic winner over 1600m eight-year- old gelding Mr Mile, trained at Wyong by Andrew Eastcott, which despite only having the one win has had 11 placings, one of them at the track, in 38 starts.
Prior to that it was second over 2300m at Bong Bong, so will have no trouble with the distance.
Taree trainer Tess Wilkes probably has the best performed galloper in Prince Coureuse, it finishing third, beaten a long head and 1.25 lengths by Golden Words over 2100m at Tuncurry last start, Xerxes Dream being in the same race and finishing 12th.
The trainer of Xerxes Dream, Michael O’Neill, believing that the apprentice rider may not have been able to get the best out of his charge.
Wilkes has also nominated House Of Tudor for the race, it only been a winner once in 23 starts but has youth on its side being a five-year- old gelding.
Tamworth seven-year- old gelding Grandmaster Dash, trained by Adam Vine, finished one placing ahead of Prince Coureuse when they met last over 2200m at Bowraville so must be a major hope.
The query galloper is Kempsey’s five-year- old gelding Rush Of Blood, trained by Tony Green, which won three races last campaign and is having its third run this preparation.
It only has had 20 starts and this will be its third run back from a spell, the wins being in more creditable TAB company, and he having tried to win the cup in the past.
Eight-year- old Port Macquarie mare Queen Of The Grange, trained by Gloria Parker, won the lasiandra Cup over a shorter distance at this track last year and comes into calculations after a 2.8 lengths sixth to Kempsey’s Wewonya over 1500m at Port Macquarie on November 17.
Xerxes Dream’s trainer should go very close to winning the Benchmark 55 Handicap over 1200m with Stoddart, which should be ready to produce its best after good runs in TAB company.
The five races are limited to eight runners and punters usually enjoy trying to find a winner by looking at the runners up close in the saddling enclosure on a day celebrated by locals and visitors, it being the next day after Christmas.