SEVERAL of the central west’s best harness drivers will converge on Orange’s Highlands Paceway tomorrow for the Orange leg of the 2013-14 Carnival of Cups.
The annual meeting is the Orange Harness Racing Club’s biggest event of the racing calendar in a normal year, but 2014 is set to draw a blockbuster crowd.
Tomorrow’s meeting doubles as a feature of the Banjo Paterson Festival, a 10-day event commemorating the 150th anniversary of the poet’s birth.
OHRC president Frank McRae said one factor sure to draw a crowd is the day’s entertainment: country music star Adam Brand.
OHRC has a bumper eight-race program listed, with the $12,000 Kent’s H Hardware Banjo Paterson Cup (2240m) to feature.
OHRC president Frank McRae also highlighted the $10,000 Kriden Park - Mulga Bill’s Bicycle Orange Drivers Invitational (1880m) as one race to watch.
“It’s an invitational for the best drivers in the central western districts,” McRae said.
Bathurst trainer-driver Nathan Hurst will be aboard Smokin’ Bopper NZ in the $8,500 Royal Hotel - Brumby’s Run Pace (1880m) tomorrow.
Smokin’ Bopper NZ was bought last August for $10,000 by a group of nine harness racing enthusiasts based out of the Royal Hotel in Orange.
The horse has since netted its owners over $29,000 in prize money, a trend Hurst thinks the five-year-old gelding will continue tomorrow.
“He should definitely be among the money tomorrow,” Hurst said.
“He had a bit of a hiccup in his last start but the rest of his form has been good. His preparation has been good and he’s been running well all season.
“He’s drawn a bit wide but I think he should still get the guys from Orange a bit more cash.”
Gates open at 12pm at Highlands Paceway.