Racing Orange will open its 2018-19 season on Monday, and will do so with a bumper, eight-race program that attracted 171 nominations and from them, a whopping 115 acceptors from across the state that have all but filled out the fields.
Although there’s been some scratchings already, the Welcome Back to Towac TAB-meeting will still welcome plenty of metropolitan trainers, while there’s an abundance of runners from Orange-based stables locked in to turn out at their home track too.
As you’d expect, Racing Orange executive officer Bree McMinn is stoked to see so much support in this season’s opener.
“It’s really great, there was a lot of nominations and we’re really happy with the fields for Monday too, especially seeing so many of our local trainers,” she said.
Orange’s Lee Van Den Bos, Brian Gentle, Brad Draper, Michael Plummer and Alison Smith have all accepted and, assuming no more scratch between now and Monday, they’ll account for 19 runners across the meet.
Gentle, who’s moved plenty of gallopers up from Bendigo recently, has already been forced to scratch a couple of his runners but still has nine expected to jump on Monday afternoon, and he accounts for almost a quarter of the field in the eighth.
Gentle will have Ribbon of Choice, Sostenido and Dark Force gunning to salute in the Kitchens & Cabinets Benchmark 58 Handicap (1000 metres), which closes the meet out at 5.35pm.
It’s not just the locals that are locked in though, a number of the central west’s best trainers have accepted and so have the likes of Gary Portelli and Bjorn Baker.
Portelli, who cut his teeth at Towac Park before moving to the city, has accepted with a handful of runners while Baker will send seven chances over the mountains.
He’ll be looking for a trifecta in the meet’s opening race too – the 1000-metre McSigns Maiden Plate – having accepted with Gotta Minute, Korrawi and Miracleofmiracles, with the two latter making their debuts after reasonably promising trial form.
“We always get a lot of support from the city, they love the track and a lot of the time are very successful,” McMinn said, before saying the Towac course is in top nick.
“It’s not as soft underfoot as you might think after the rain and it’ll firm up a bit over the weekend but that rain has done it plenty of good, the track looks an absolute picture.”
Gates open at Towac Park at noon on Monday, racing starts at 1.20pm. Racing Orange hosts seven other gallops meets, and three harness racing meets, during the rest of the season.
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