Missing out on the biggest meeting of the year was a blow for the Wellington community, but Sunday looks set to help make up for that.
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The $100,000 Wellington Cup was going to be one of a number of feature events run at the annual Wellington Boot carnival in March, but the meeting was abandoned twice due to heavy rain.
It will be the main event during what shapes as a massive meeting for the club as a staggering 241 nominations were received while more than $7000 in prizes will on offer during the day's Fashions on the Field competition.
"We're really excited about the nominations," Wellington club secretary Dale Jones said.
"That's one of the biggest sets of nominations we've had for a long time and it shows how popular these Big Dance qualifiers are.
"We're excited to have the Wellington Cup rescheduled after the washout on Wellington Boot day.
"It's giving us an opportunity to have another feature meeting because it was very disappointing that the Boot was washed out but we've got another feature meeting and the trainers have responded with massive nominations, so we hope it's going to be a really great day."
The cup received 37 nominations and there was plenty of quality as well as quantity.
As had been the case with previous Big Dance qualifiers, Sunday's event has attracted the attention of a number of the country's top trainers.
The Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott team nominated Regal Stage, Major Artie and So United for the cup and Bjorn Baker put forward Arapaho, Ita, and Night Of Power while Kris Lees, Edward Cummings, Richard and Will Freedman and even Archie Alexander from Ballarat were among the strong numbers.
The locals were on show as well, with 2021 Wellington Cup winner Reward Seeker nominated by Wellington trainer Michael Mulholland alongside stablemate and last-start winner Foodie King.
"It would really be great to see a local or regional or country trainer win one of these qualifiers and be a chance to go in the big $2 million race," Jones said.
"Obviously the Sydney trainers and bigger stables will now target these country cup races and that was part of the overall plan to improve the quality of the country cup fields but it would be nice to see some country horses be able to get into the race."
Eight races are set to be run on Sunday but it could be extended to nine given the huge number of nominations.
While regular weekend sport and the Dubbo Show this weekend could threaten the crowd on Sunday, Jones is confident a healthy crowd is in attendance.
He's hopeful many of those who are trackside will also enter the Fashions on the Field, which he said will be one of the richest in country NSW racing.
"It got pushed back from the Boot carnival ... there's $7000 in prizes and giveaways so people can enter that," he said.
"One of the prizes is a trip to Queensland so we could have almost $300,000 in prizemoney if they divide a couple of races plus $7000 for the Fashions on the Field so it's a big meeting."
Final fields are released on on Thursday.
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