Victorias Country Cup Series heats up with tomorrow's Wangaratta Cup

The opportunity for a new Country Cups Series leader looms tomorrow (Saturday, 2 March) with Station One set to take his place in a field of nine in the $100,000 Winsec Savings and Loans Wangaratta Cup (2000m) at Sportsbet Wangaratta.

The five-year-old, trained by Liam Howley, currently sits in second place on the 2023-24 Victorian Country Cups Series leaderboard with 12 points after finishing 2023 in style winning both the Bet365 Traralgon Cup (1900m) and the William Thomson Dunkeld Cup (1800m), as well as placing third in the Mac’s Hotel Woodford Cup (1700m).

The son of Toronado has continued his outstanding form in 2024 securing an additional point with a third placing in the Seppelt Great Western Cup (1950m) before posting wins in the Massey Ferguson Woodend Cup (1856m) at Kyneton and the Bendigo Ford Marong Cup (2200m) at Bendigo.

Unfortunately for Howley, the Woodend and Marong Cups are not part of the Country Cups Series as the Kyneton and Bendigo Cups are the qualifiers at those tracks, but Station One’s earlier exploits have him well placed in the series.

The current leader is Mister Me (Symon Wilde) who has gained 13 points through winning the Bet365 Donald Cup (1620m) and the Sungold Milk Camperdown Cup (1600m), as well as crossing the line second in the Mac’s Hotel Woodford Cup and third in the Australian Lamb Company Colac Gold Cup (2000m). However, with the son of Zoustar not set to participate this weekend, the competition opens up.

Six-year-old Toogoodfortoorak (Matt Laurie) will be looking to gain valuable points at Wangaratta having featured in the 2022-23 Country Cup Series when he won the 2023 Warracknabeal Cup.

Werthemier (Matthew Enright) arrives in good form with wins at both Geelong and Caulfield in 2024 and has previously competed successfully at the level as a multiple Country Cups placegetter.

Tycoon Bec shapes as a genuine contender after her recent win at Sandown and her trainer Matt Cumani and high-profile owners, including dual Brownlow medallist Chris Judd, will be hoping jockey Carleen Hefel can pilot successive Wangaratta Cup winners after scoring on Don’t Doubt Dory in 2023.

Hoping to keep the Cup in local hands will be Nordic Pride (Ben Brisbourne) and Brungle Creek (Sylvia Thompson) who is in form but steps up in class.

Lindsay Park’s Independent Road has been a model of consistency all season and arrives at Wangaratta off the back of top two finishes at Caulfield and The Valley.

The topweight with 60kg is Irish import Mostly Cloudy, a Flemington winner three starts back for Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young. The training duo featured heavily in the 2022-23 Country Cups Series with Brayden Star and Suizuro both contesting the final last November.

The Winsec Savings and Loans Wangaratta Cup will be run at 3.56pm (AEDT), shortly prior to the Howden Australian Guineas at Flemington at 4.15pm.

The Wangaratta Cup marks the start of an exciting month in the 2023-24 Victorian Country Cups Series with 12 Country Cups to be run in Victoria throughout March, including qualifiers at Towong, Edenhope, Echuca and Stony Creek across the Labour Day long weekend.

As well as the spoils on offer in each Country Cup, horses will be competing for points to secure a start in the lucrative 2024 Victorian Country Cups Final which will be held in November during the Spring Racing Carnival.

Points for the series are awarded on a 5-2-1 basis for the first three horses home in each of Victoria’s professional Country Cups. In the event of any dead heats for first, second or third, each dead-heater shall receive 5 points, 2 points and 1 point respectively.

Click here for the 2023-24 Victorian Country Cups Series leaderboard as of 1 March 2024.