By Lucy McLeod – The Hunter App
The countdown is on to one of the Upper Hunter’s most popular social events of the year with just over a fortnight to go until the big day.
After the pandemic wreaked last-minute havoc on last year’s event, Muswellbrook Cup Day is back with a vengeance on Friday, March 26.
It’s set to be a huge week of racing at the Muswellbrook Race Club with Muswellbrook Cup Day following the Country Championships Wild Card Day on Sunday, March 21.
Muswellbrook Race Club CEO Duane Dowell said that preparations are progressing well for both events.
“It’s getting very busy now,” Mr Dowell said.
Last Year’s Muswellbrook Cup winner – Pretrology ( Trained by Nathan Doyle)
“Having our two biggest race days just days apart is exciting and it’s a time we always look forward to.
“Given the last twelve months of COVID, we are optimistic about getting good crowds to both events.”
Mr Dowell is also hoping to see the community get behind the event.
“I’m really encouraging the local community to get behind this event,” he said.
“It’s a great social day out and you don’t need to be a die-hard racing fan to enjoy the day.
“We are seen as an emerging and improving Cup Carnival amongst our peers and we really rely on that local support to keep the momentum going and help us to make the Muswellbrook Cup Carnival a ‘must attend’ event well into the future.”
While the event is well known as a must-attend social event, gazetted as a half-day public holiday for residents in the Muswellbrook Shire, the event also provides the best of quality country racing.
The HTBA Muswellbrook Gold Cup over 1500m is now worth $150,000 with support races including the $75,000 Horsepower Skellatar Sprint (1000m), the $50,000 BHP Mt Arthur Coal Wayne Harris Hcp (1280m) and the $50,000 TAB Country Magic.
There is also minimum prizemoney of $30,000 for all other races.
Fashions on the Field will also return with prizes on offer.
Race Day tickets are on sale now with Mr Dowell recommending that attendees purchase their tickets ahead of time.
“We are encouraging everyone to get their tickets online as they are cheaper than getting them at the gate on the day and entry into the grounds will be much faster,” he said.
Fold-up chairs, picnic rugs and picnic food can be brought into the grounds for the event, however, no BYO alcohol, marquees or other structures are permitted.
Water can be brought onto the grounds if it is in a sealed, unopened container.
A free shuttle bus will also be operating with various departure points around Muswellbrook.
COVID-19 protocols will be in place for the event, with punters required to check-in to the venue via the Services NSW QR Code registration system.