A FORMER winner and last year's runner-up are among nominations, nine out of 28 from Sydney stables, for the $100,000 Stacks Law Firm Taree Gold Cup (2000m) at Manning Valley Race Club's $619,000 two-day carnival at Taree on Friday and Sunday (Cup).
The 2017 winner Pirate Ben, trained at Wyong by Damien Lane, and Allzin from the Wauchope stable of Graham Hoy, 1.5 lengths second to Shalmaneser, trained at Rosehill by Richard Freedman, last year are among nominations.
Pirate Ben had an unplaced run in the Wyong Cup after scoring at Taree and later spent about 12 months recovering from a track injury.
Allzin was the marvel of last year's race as it hadn't started since April and ran a terrific race to be beaten 1.5 lengths with Wauchope jockey Belinda Hodder in the saddle.
But it is the Sydney stables of premier trainer Chris Waller, Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott, Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, Clare Cunningham, Marc Connors and Richard and Michael Freedman which hold plenty of interest.
Waller is very strong with last Saturday Sydney winner Hogmanay, part-owned by Australian cricketer Steve Smith, Dagny and winner of its past two starts Wu Gok.
The Freedmans are relying on Master Of Arts (NZ) whereas Waterhouse and Bott have a handy type in Wolfe (Japan) which has won four of its last five starts and is resuming.
Maher and Eustace have entered Mask Of Time (IRE) and ready to win Yogi (NZ).
Newcastle trainer Kris Lees is always hard to beat in any race his gallopers enters and his last win in the cup was with Olympic Academy in 2016, then was 8th last year before being sold on to an Adelaide trainer where it has won more races and been very competitive.
Last year he was third in the cup with Dubalinstyle, ridden by last season's star jockey Andrew Gibbons, and fourth with Our Gravano, ridden by Josh Adams.
This year he has nominated no fewer than six gallopers in recent Sydney winner Attention Run (Ger), Clevanicc, Milseain (NZ), Mongolian Wolf, Mr Garcia and Our Gravano.
The club is looking forward to having capacity fields for both days, the feature race on Friday being the $32,000 Hopkins Livermore Cup over 1400m where last year's winner, five-year-old gelding Marathon, trained at Newcastle by Paul Perry, is nominated.
Also Taree trainer Ross Stitt has entered five-year-old gelding Editors and he would dearly love to win this race as he knew both Don Hopkins and Ivan Livermore well.
Stitt's Blinkin Artie nearly gave him a win last year but was beaten a half-length by Marathon whose form this time might not be as good.
This race has attracted gallopers from Newcastle, Wyong, Coffs Harbour, Scone, Gosford, Grafton, as well as locals.
Wilkes has nominated the in-form five-year-old gelding Party Host, runner-up at its past two starts, and last start winner Subtle Grey which is resuming from a slight spell.
Port Macquarie trainer Tas Morton has five-year-old gelding Mister Smartee firing on all cylinders after an easy win at Kempsey last week and fellow trainer Jenny Graham has capable seven-year-old gelding Art Attack ready to shine after a fifth first-up from a spell.
The mystery galloper is six-year-old gelding Venezuela, trained at Wyong by Kim Waugh, which is resuming after two wins at each of its second starts in two previous campaigns before being spelled.
Final fields will be known on Thursday and both meetings will be previewed in Friday's edition.