With the weather set fair for all three days of the Swan Hill Carnival this long weekend, the club is hopeful of exceeding the record 10,500 racegoers who attended last year’s celebration of country racing at its finest.
A sizeable crowd of 5,700 turned out on bet365 Swan Hill Cup Day 12 months ago to witness Victory Downs make it back-to-back wins in the $100,000 feature for South Australian trainer, Sue Jaensch.
Although an interstate raider left Swan Hill with the biggest prize, it was largely the local trainers who dominated the carnival, with Nathan Hobson leading the way.
Hobson, who calls Swan Hill home, achieved notable success over the three days, training a total of six winners with four coming in tandem with his stable jockey, apprentice Chelsea MacFarlane.
The pair look set to feature heavily again this year, especially with MacFarlane currently riding in rare form.
Last month, the 23-year-old rode her first metropolitan double, piloting Aristocratic Miss and Despacito – both trained by Tony McEvoy – to victory at Sandown.
A return to the Swan Hill Carnival, where she finished the leading jockey in 2018 with five wins overall, should see MacFarlane bolster her reputation as one of the new wave of female jockeys in Victoria.
Unfortunately Victoria’s leading female jockey, Linda Meech, will miss the carnival as she continues her recovery from a broken collarbone sustained during a fall at Geelong in mid-April.
Meech’s continued absence leaves Warrnambool trainer Simon Wilde with a quandary, as he plots to retain the feature races on the first two days of the carnival, the Pooles Golden Topaz Handicap (1200m) and the Quambatook Cup (1600m), without the services of his go-to jockey.
Inn Keeper is set to defend his Golden Topaz crown, with his stablemate and country cups specialist Another Coldie amongst the likely opposition – although it is worth noting both horses have also been entered for the Flemington meeting on Saturday.
Last year’s winner Florida Pearl will not take her place in the Quambatook Cup, paving the way for Hobson to take centre stage.
The Swan Hill horseman has entered both Free Willy, whose previous two victories have come at his home track, and Don’t Get Excited, a winner at last year’s carnival, for Saturday’s feature race. They could be joined in the line-up by stablemate Hulme, a recent acquisition from the Mick Price stable, and Peter Chow’s consistent galloper Hostar, who also scored at the 2018 Swan Hill Carnival.
For more information or to buy tickets for the carnival, visit the Country Racing Victoria website here.