“Fantastic” nominations and strong sponsor support have Murray Bridge Racing Club secretary/manager John Buhagiar eagerly anticipating Friday’s annual Gold Cup meeting.
The club’s biggest day on the racing calendar is being held at its Gifford Hill facility for the second time and despite COVID-19 protocols restricting crowd numbers, Mr Buhagiar is tipping a memorable day – for all the right reasons.
“We have fantastic nominations over the nine races, in particular the Murray Bridge Gold Cup, which looks great,” he said.
“It’s good to see that some of our local trainers are looking to having a real crack at the race.
“I’m also pretty pleased to have the first two-year-old race of the season for South Australia.
“There’s nothing better than owners coming to the races to see their horses have their first starts.”
The nine-race meeting has attracted a bumper 133 acceptances, while the $100,000 Listed Murray Bridge Gold Club (1600m) has a record field of 18.
Meanwhile Mr Buhagiar said the club was grateful for the ongoing support of its loyal sponsors.
“The one thing we love about this day is reflecting on the loyal supporters we’ve had,” he said.
“A number of these sponsors have been long-term cup-day sponsors.
“Six of the nine sponsors have been with us for over 10 years and one of them has been involved with the club for 20 years.
“Most of the others have been involved with cup day for a number of years as well.
“We’re rapt to be able to achieve those sorts of partnerships. It’s what it’s all about.”
Gifford Hill’s racing surface has been the envy of other clubs nationwide and Mr Buhagiar expects more of the same on Friday.
“The rail is back to the true and it hasn’t been there since August,” he said.
“But look, it’s just superb.”
Appropriate COVID-19 protocols will be in place across the course on Gold Cup Day, limiting crowd numbers.
“Our COVID management plan requires us to know everyone who’s coming, including owners,” Mr Buhagiar said.
“In other words, we can’t just have people rock up on the day.
“If they just advise us they’re coming, we’ll do a ticket for them and there’ll be plenty of seating there for people.
“At the moment the COVID management plan says people still need to be seated to drink, so people need to be aware of that too.”
Mr Buhagiar said hospitality packages are fully booked for Cup Day.
“And I think the racing will speak a lot for itself,” he said.
“It’s going to be a great Murray Bridge Gold Cup Day.”
The Carlton Draught Murray Bridge Gold Cup is race seven on the nine-race program, at 4.25pm.