Country Cup Series on show over Easter

Victoria’s exciting Country Cups Series will continue to play out across the Easter long weekend with opportunities to score valuable points at Warracknabeal Racing Club, Kerang Turf Club and Stawell Racing Club. 

On Easter Saturday (30 March), both the $50,000 Emmetts Warracknabeal Cup (1600m) and $30,000 cluBarham Kerang Cup (1800m) will take place, while the $70,000 Stuart McGregor Stawell Gold Cup (2000m) will be run on Easter Sunday (31 March).

Four runners currently in the top 10 in the Country Cups Series – Mister Me, Station One, Toogoodfortoorak and Mystery Island – are set to take their place in what shapes as a captivating Stawell Gold Cup.

Jockey Dean Yendall will partner current series leader Mister Me (Symon Wilde) in his search of back-to-back wins in the Stawell feature having won aboard Deepstrike last year. He rides stablemate Thunder Point in the Warracknabeal Cup 24 hours earlier.

Mister Me has had a bumper start to the series with wins in the Sundown Milk Camperdown Cup (1600m) and bet365 Donald Cup (1620m), as well as a second in the Mac’s Hotel Woodford Cup (1700m) and third in the Australian Lamb Company Colac Gold Cup (2000m). The five-year-old gelding currently sits on 13 points.

Hot on his heels is Station One (Liam Howley) in second position on 12 points. The gelding finished off 2023 strongly winning both the William Thomas Dunkeld Cup (1800m) and bet365 Traralgon Cup (1900m), along with finishing third in both the Woodford Cup (1700m) and the Seppelts Great Western Cup (1950m).

Toogoodfortoorak’s (Matt Laurie) recent form has seen him fly into the top five on the leaderboard where he currently sits on seven points, thanks to a winning performance in the Winsec Savings and Loans Wangaratta Cup (2000m) and a second place in the Jack Hirsch Memorial Yarra Valley Cup (1968m).

Also on seven points is Mystery Island (Shane Jackson) after taking out the Woodford Cup (1700m) and finishing second in the Colac Gold Cup (2000m). The Japanese import narrowly missed the top three in the Sportsbet Pakenham Cup (2500m) on 15 March and will appreciate the drop in class.

Other entrants currently on the Country Cup Series leaderboard looking to gain valuable points at Stawell include Claim The Crown (Annabel Neasham) and Tycoon Bec (Matt Cumani) whose ownership group includes dual Brownlow medallist Chris Judd.

On Saturday at Warracknabeal, Belthil (Andrew Bobbin) will be looking to repeat his winning performance after taking out the bet365 Geelong St Pats Cup (1412m) on 16 March. Currently sitting in 18th spot on the ladder with five points, a win would see him progress to equal third.

Among his rivals in the Warracknabeal Cup is Crown Harmonium (Kelvin Bourke) who will also be looking to progress up the ladder after taking third place in the bet365 Hanging Rock Cup (1850m) in January.

The horse that defeated him in the Hanging Rock Cup, Friday At Five (Henry Dwyer) is among the field of eight that will gather in the state’s north for the Kerang Cup on the same afternoon. 

Friday At Five currently sits equal 19th on five points and his Hanging Rock pilot Neil Farley will again take the reins where a win could see the five-year-old mare catapult into equal third on the Country Cup Series leaderboard.

Extra Elusive (Andrew Bobbin) will also be looking to move up the ladder from position 22 where he sits on four points thanks to seconds in the bet365 Donald Cup (1620m) and the Great Western Cup (1950m).

Look Sharpish (Leon and Troy Corstens) will also carry plenty of interest in the Kerang Cup with apprentice jockey Christopher Pang to ride at his debut meeting.

Pang, one of 11 inductees this year into Racing Victoria’s Apprentice Jockey Training Program, will be the second first-year apprentice to ride after Brittany Button’s debut at Towong earlier this month.

In an action packed 30 minutes, the Emmetts Warracknabeal Cup will be run at 4.31pm (AEDT) and the cluBarham Kerang Cup at 4.41pm, shortly after the Group 1 TAB Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington at 4.15pm. The Stuart McGregor Stawell Gold Cup jumps at 4.35pm on Sunday.

As well as the spoils on offer in each Country Cup, horses are 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 27 March 2024.