Gippsland’s biggest race day

David Braithwaite

THE highlight of the Gippsland racing calendar, the Sale Cup, will be run on Sunday.

Greenwattle Racecourse is in ideal condition, with the track on Thursday rated a “good four”.

The 1600 metre listed handicap race carries $200,000 in prize money, with $120,000 going to the winner.

The race has attracted a quality group of nominations, with the field finalised Thursday after publication deadline.

The top weighted nomination, Sovereign Nation, for trainers David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig, battled well at Flemington over 1400m earlier this month, but finished fifth in a nine-horse field.

The six-year-old gelding won the March Stakes at Flemington (1400m) in March.

Another Hayes-Dabernig six-year-old gelding nominated is Fastnet Tempest, who came second in the listed Weekend Hussler Stakes at Caulfield over 1400m this month.

Second rated nomination Grand Rosso, trained by Peter Snowden, finished fourth in the Weekend Hussler Stakes.

The Darren Weir-prepared Tradesman finished third in the 2400m Caloundra Cup last start in June. The gelding’s past four runs were in Queensland.

Kingsguard, trained by Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes, began the group one Toorak Handicap (1400m) at Caulfield this month well, but shuffled back to finish 14th. Before that, the six- year-old gelding came second in a group two race at Rosehill over 1500m.

Doubt Defying, for Steven O’Dea, won at Randwick last start over 1400m on a very heavy track. Tony McEvoy’s Manuel won at Caulfield over the same distance earlier this month.

Mask of Time, for Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, won the group three Coongy Cup (2000m) on a soft track at Caufield on Saturday.

Octabello, for Mick Price, won the Cranbourne Cup (2025m) this month and came third in the Inglis Cup (2000m) at Caulfield two weeks earlier.

The nine-race program also includes a $50,000 heat of the Melbourne Cup Carnival Country Series over 1400m.

The series is restricted to horses of Victorian trainers who don’t  have a metropolitan base.

The first two horses in Sunday’s heat will advance to the $200,000 final on VRC Oaks Day on November 8.

Sale-trained horses are among the nominations: Tranquil Miss for George Doderico, Ali Orphan for Wayne Walter and Sassoon for Bec Kelly.

There will be plenty for patrons to see and do off the track, with former AFL star Brendan Fevola and former international cricketer Dean Jones special guests. There will also be music, food trucks and the 1965 Melbourne Cup, won by Light Fingers for legendary trainer Bart Cummings.

Fashions on the Field will again award the best-dressed racegoers, with categories for men, women and children.

Free buses will be available between the course and Sale, Maffra, Stratford, Heyfield, Loch Sport, Rosedale and Traralgon.

Gates open at 11am.