Local hopes in today’s main race ride with the Cameron Crockett trained Are You Sure and the Gayna Williams runner Strong Boy.
Prize money for the Robert Oatley Vineyards Mudgee Cup Showcase (1600m) is $50,000 – 1st $27,750, 2nd $10,000, 3rd $5,000.
Crockett said that Are You Sure has prepared well but seems to find the going tough at home.
“He’s going well enough, he’s a lot fitter than last time and we made sure we left no stone unturned for this one,” he said.
“It’s a very hard field and something always seems to go against him at Mudgee, I don’t know why but he just never has much luck there.
“So we’ll see what happens.”
Are You Sure was caught up in the five-horse fall which marred the 2015 race.
“I thought he was well placed last year, it was probably the most confident I’ve been going into a cup at Mudgee because they’re always pretty strong,” Crockett said.
“Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be, they came down, we lost one horse but we didn’t lose any riders which was lucky.
“He was lame for a couple of days, we got him working again and we took him to Canterbury because he was going pretty well but he pulled sore in the hind quarter again, so we turned him out.
“When we brought him back we had a few concerns because he had a couple of ordinary runs but then he found form, he’d probably had the best prep he’s had without winning a race.
“We put him back in the paddock and came back with a third at Muswellbrook, he was below average in his last run at Warren which I put down to fitness he peaked on his run a bit – which he won’t be doing on Friday.”
Williams said that Strong Boy, although coming off of a win a fortnight, will find the Mudgee Cup a tougher – but it is at a distance that he likes.
“He’s last start winner but this race is a lot harder, there’s a lot more depth in the field – with all due respect – than the race he won in Orange,” she said.
“Because he’s risen in the benchmark system after his last win we thought that we’d start him in the cup and see how he goes, he seems to like the mile.
“He won over 1400m at Orange and three races back he won at Quirindi over 1600m.
“The horse has won a cup here [Gooree, 2014] back when Guy Walter trained him.
“He’s fit and well so we’ll see how he goes."
She added that a win in the race would be huge for Strong Boy’s owners who are locals.
“It would mean a lot to me as a trainer but I would be more pleased for the owners, Steve Flynn and a local syndicate own the horse, it would mean a great deal to them,” she said.