Excitement for the Country Championships is building and Sunday's meeting at Dubbo Turf Club would well uncover some horses to watch in the lucrative series.
Qualifiers for the Country Championships start this weekend with the first of those at Coffs Harbour.
Six more will follow, with the Central Districts heat at Mudgee and the western area event at Coonamble this year, before the Wild Card at Muswellbrook and then the $500,000 final at Randwick on April 4.
Horses across the state have been building towards those races for a number of months and there will be another lead-up event at Dubbo's meeting on Sunday.
The Country Championships Preview (1300m), a class one handicap, will be contested and it has drawn in 21 nominations.
"There's a good vibe about it and I think it's the most chatter there's been about the Country Championships and it's good that people are talking about it," Dubbo Turf Club general manager Vince Gordon said.
"Whether it be about the central districts and Mudgee or western districts in Coonamble, there's a lot of chatter."
There's a good vibe about it and I think it's the most chatter there's been about the Country Championships.Dubbo Turf Club general manager Vince Gordon
Muswellbrook's Luke Thomas and Scone-based Cameron Crockett have nominated Asudem and Prince Of Thebes respectively ahead of a potential crack at the qualifier in Tamworth next month.
The Dubbo hopes include Kody Nestor's pair Risk And Reward and Toulon Brook, the Allan Gibson-trained California Fox and Clint Lundholm's Dusky Damsel.
All three trainers have one eye on the heat at Coonamble, as does Rodney Robb with Thermosa and Bruce Parker and Zamali.
The Mudgee heat hopefuls among the nominations include Don and Andrew Ryan's Ave, David Smith's Captain Jimmy, the Andrew Molloy-trained Nations, Brett Thompson's Larynx, and the Gayna Williams-trained pair of Healing Hands and Bad Boy For Love.
Also among the nominations for the preview event is the Wayne Martyn-trained Sea Lady. Sea Lady ran second in the western heat in 2018 and went on to run 13th in the final at Randwick.
There were 204 nominations in total for what is currently a seven-race meeting on Sunday.
While Gordon said those numbers were "bloody excellent", he did point out there are a number of dual nominations as trainers from all over keep their options open to due the number of meetings around the state being washed out this week.
Gordon added the recent rain had the Dubbo track in "excellent" condition but was hopeful some more downpours this week would result in the track being rated a good three or four by race time.
Final fields will be released on Thursday.
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