Winter racing at its finest

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An exciting day of racing is on the cards at the Oamaru Racecourse on Sunday.
Eight races are confirmed for the Oamaru Jockey Club’s annual winter meeting.
Oamaru Cup day often attracts some of the country’s leading jockeys and trainers targeting the Winter Cup, to be raced at Addington in Christchurch on August 7.
The Oamaru Racecourse has long been regarded as one of the finest winter tracks in the South Island, if not New Zealand, and fields at winter meetings are more often than not full to the brim.
This year’s meeting features nine races with total stakes of $180,000.
On Tuesday, the track was rated a slow nine, while the weather forecast for Sunday was looking good with no rain on the horizon. A solid crowd is expected on the day.
According to New Zealand Racing, the Oamaru club has “gone through somewhat of a renaissance in recent years compared to other South Island venues.
“Following a number of years of poor community support and low attendances, the Oamaru Racecourse is being nursed back to its former glory by a dedicated team, so much so that in 2013, Oamaru Cup day achieved the biggest on-course turnover of any rival winter racing club on the eastern side of
the South Island.” Last year, jockey Ryan Bishop guided Absolut Excelencia to a one-and-a-quarter-length victory in the 1600m feature race, ahead of Chris Johnson on Hexie Hao and Courtney Barnes on Newsflash. The Oamaru Cup meeting has drawn strong nominations. Six of the nine races have runners on the ballot, waiting on scratchings to get a run. The $30,000 Crombie & Price Ltd Oamaru Cup over 1600m is a great stop-off point for many middle distance thoroughbreds aiming for a tilt at the group 3 Winter Cup at Riccarton next month. Eight of the 14 runners in Sunday’s feature are nominated for the $100,000 feature on August 6. Timy Tyler has been in consistent form for owner-trainer Kelvin Tyler, but will carry the top weight on account of his consistency. Lightweight dangers further down the field include Dalwhinnie, which resumed with a tidy third at Wingatui last month. Amun Ra, like Dalwhinnie, will carry 54kg, and was  a winner at the Waimate Racing Club’s meeting at Oamaru last month.
The other feature is the $30,000 Glenmoa Farms Ltd Waitaki River Trophy for the open-class sprinters. The in-form Signify will be tough to beat over the shorter distance, despite top weights.