Nearly 80 horses have nominated to contest the six-race card for Orange’s picnic race meeting at Towac Park on Saturday.
That includes 19 horses nominating for the main race, the Orange Trophy Handicap over 1300 metres.
Racing Orange executive officer Gavin Pilossof said he was pleased with the strength of the fields – even though there are no locally-trained horses.
“They are mainly from the region, Bathurst and Dubbo, but strangely not a single horse from here has nominated for the picnic meeting,” Pilossof said.
He said 76 nominations was strong for a picnic meeting.
Two horses to watch in the main race are both bay mares but that’s where the similarity ends.
Pilossof said Dalhero, trained by Neil Smart in Cowra, was a picnic meeting specialist.
The six-year-old won the Trangie Cup at its last start on December 29 and has run at a variety of meetings including the Bong Bong Cup, Cooma, Harden and Orange in the past few months.
“It’s placed or won at most of its last race starts,” Pilossof said.
The five-year-old Special Silk, trained by Dean Mirfin at Bathurst, has similar form.
“It ran third in Orange in a much better class than this. That’ll go close if it runs.”
Twelve horses have nominated for the 1000m Class B Handicap, eight for the 1280m event, 11 for the 1600m event, 13 for the maiden plate over 1000m and 13 for the maiden plate over 1280m.
Gates will open for the picnic meeting at noon with the first race for around 1.15pm with the last around 5pm.
Fields, times and races will be finalised on Thursday.
Pilossof said picnic races were run differently to normal meetings and that affected the size of fields.
Only amateur jockeys can ride and the number of jockeys available usually determined how many horses could run in each race.
“A lot of them will be trackwork riders from around the region. There will be a few of them hoping to be jockeys in the future, and become apprentices.”
Although it is a non-TAB meeting bookmakers and the TAB will be operating on course and it is the only place you can put a bet on this meeting.
However, trackside punters will be able to bet on TAB races throughout Australia – including the Magic Millions that will also take place on the Gold Coast on Saturday.
Pilossof said the picnic races were popular. “I am hoping there should be at least 2000 people there on Saturday.
“It is usually our biggest day, crowd-wise, of the year,” Pilossof said.