MANNING Valley Race Club's track manager Scott Olson is gearing up for his seventh Taree Cup Carnival campaign at the Bushland Drive Racecourse.
The carnival opens today and concludes on Sunday when the feature event, the $100,000 Stacks Law Firm Taree Gold Cup of 2000 metres is run. Manning Valley Race Club will offer a record $619,000 in prizemoney over the two days.
Olson assured the track is in fine fettle for the bumper two day racing bonanza despite dry conditions.
"A bit of rain would have been nice,'' the 48-year-old agreed.
"It's been a funny winter, a tough winter. We've had warm days but really cold nights.
"We've had three or four frosts which has knocked it (the track) back a bit. We haven't had the rain we normally get, but we've kept it up with irrigation.''
He said the track will be a Good 3, with a bit of cushion.
"It's a bit firmer than normal, but it will be right for Friday and Sunday,'' Olson said.
Olson has previously worked on the Sunshine Coast and at Wyong and Gosford before accepting the position with the then Taree-Wingham Race Club.
Olson rates the Sunshine Coast as the best track in Australia.
"It's a great setup, a big straight, everyone gets their chance,'' he said.
However, Olson has plenty of kind words for the Bushland Drive complex.
"It's a beautiful outlook here,'' he said, looking over the course-proper from the Winning Post Function Centre.
"I think it's one of the best country tracks in NSW and I'm not being biased. It's a great place to train a horse, the facilities are good; you've got B grass there, you've got sand and cinders; everything's here.
"If I was a country trainer I'd be here. We're only two and a half hours to Sydney and if you want to go north, there's Port Macquarie and Coffs just up the road. It's pretty central.''
Olson said the majority of preparations for the cup carnival are in place a month out from the carnival.
"Pretty well everything is prepared four weeks out, with rail movements and fertilising. We're tapering off this week, just putting the colour into it. We're ready to go.''
Olson said the club enjoys a high profile in country racing.
"We get top trainers and jockeys here. We've got a good surface,'' he said.
"The club's committee has given me a budget and we're getting the rewards.''
Olson has enjoyed his time here. It's an each-way bet as to how long he stays, although he has signed on until next February.
"I'm really impressed with our new chief executive (Helen Sinclair), so I'll probably stay on, but I'll wait and see,'' he said
Record prizemoney, strong fields for the two days or racing and favourable weather...Olson said all is now in readiness for what he believes should be a standout carnival.
"All we need now is for the community to get behind it,'' he added.