Major General, a race two winner at Murwillumbah races on Melbourne Cup day last year, could once again figure prominently.
Major General, a race two winner at Murwillumbah races on Melbourne Cup day last year, could once again figure prominently. John Gass

Murwillumbah ready for Melbourne Cup Day

AUSTRALIA’S top racing day of the year just keeps getting bigger and better at Murwillumbah. Several thousand patrons made their way through the turnstiles for last year’s Melbourne Cup day meeting, and an even bigger turn-out is expected today with jockey club officials predicting a bumper crowd.

Whether it’s a once-a-year flutter or more serious punting, a strong local and interstate bookies’ ring and on-course tote will cover all the racing from Flemington and live local thoroughbred action.

While a number of races will boast feature billing including the Ellis & Baxter Solicitors & Attorneys Cup (race four - 3.35pm) and the Jason Birney Memorial Plate (race three - 2.35pm), it is the Benchmark 45 Tweed Daily News handicap which offers the day’s best betting prospects.

It is the second event on the program and scheduled to jump at 1.45pm. Run over a near Murwillumbah Cup distance or 2000m, it will suit the natural stayers in the field. El Toby, a maiden runner, is trained on track by Paul Robbins and has shown a liking for going over a bit of ground. Robbins’ wife Kim who helps prepare the five year old El Hermano (NZ) gelding told the Tweed Daily News / Northern Star he has put in a couple of good efforts on the trot in tougher company.

“He’s working well, and surprised us two starts back when he hit the front over 2300 at Grafton,” she said.

“He was well above his level in that race but the trouble is finding races for stayers, there are just not enough distance events up here - so you’ve got to race them where and when you can.

“He loves the longer distances and he’ll just keep going, so we’re hoping he’ll do well.”

While El Toby looks set to go on with things, he won’t have it all his own way. Topweight Major General is a last start winner over 1900m at Armidale, and won this race last year. The seven year old son of General Nediym will be carrying 61kg which is more than the 57.5kg he successfully lugged around twelve months ago. Senior jockey Danny Peisley, back in the saddle after a come-back, has piloting honours. He perfected his art around these parts, and his local knowledge will help give Major General every chance. St Edition and Hide The Ace are outside hopes.

The Murwillumbah racing surface is in top condition according to jockey club officials. The track has had a three month rest from competitive racing following a bustling winter program which included the hosting of the Murwillumbah Cup carnival. During that time, Murwillumbah was the venue for three big race meetings in quick order.

The track has received 36mms of rain in the past ten days and is rated a Soft 5 with an upgrade to Good 4 likely before racing gets under way. Mainly sunny weather is forecast with the possibility of a late change in the evening.

The judge lets them go in the first at 12.55pm, with the last of the day, race six due at 5pm.

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