A QUALITY field will greet patrons in the 1530m Pottsville Tavern Christmas Cup, the feature of tonight's twilight meeting at Murwillumbah.
The form for the Benchmark 70 handicap reads competitively, with as many as half the capacity field in the front line of punters' expectations for a good showing.
In such a tight tussle, track familiarity might be expected to count for something, but all 14 starters and emergencies share something in common.
None has won or been placed on-course, though a few have tried to master the little track under the border escarpment.
Ballina trainer Danny Bowen prepares two of only three runners who have made previous attempts, Eastline and Haslington.
"It's different circumstances - Haslington went around in the (Murwillumbah) Newmarket, so it's no shame to go down in that kind of race, and we'll never know how Eastline would have fared," he said referring to his charge losing the rider on Melbourne Cup day.
"This is an easier assignment compared to some of the races they've been in, and they'll do all right, I'm pretty confident."
On that occasion last year Haslington took out a $45,000 1MW handicap defeating Eastline by the barest of margins, aided by a 5kg pull in the weights.
Pushed on choosing the better performer, Bowen thinks Haslington might just have the edge again over the stablemate despite meeting Eastline 4kg worse off compared to the Doomben affair.
Other fancied runners include locally trained gallopers Originate and Volcanic Warrior, both trained on-course.
The twilight concept has proven very popular with connections. Racing NSW received sufficient nominations for the 1800m Class 1 & Maiden Plate to be split into two events, extending the full TAB program to nine races, all boasting capacity fields.
The first of the day is now due to jump at 1.43pm with the judge expected to let them go in the last at 6.50pm.
The feature is race 8, scheduled for 6.10pm.
Join the Community.
Get your local news, your way.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.