THE Albury Gold Cup field is shaping as the strongest since attaining listed status two years ago.
Racing fever has kicked in with the cup carnival launch held yesterday at the Commercial Club, which will sponsor the feature race for the seventh successive year on March 28.
The build-up continues today with the Commercial Club lead-up meeting at the Albury track.
More than 200 guests attended the launch with 2008 Gold Cup winning jockey Peter Robl the special guest.
Robl began his career locally before becoming one of Sydney’s premier riders in recent years.
Guests were told Sydney’s biggest stables including Chris Waller and Gai Waterhouse had the Gold Cup on their radar and leading jockeys Blake Shinn and Craig Newitt were already confirmed to ride at the meeting.
Shinn will be aboard last Sunday’s Canberra Cup winner Jacquinot Bay and Newitt will ride former cup winner Extra Zero for leading Victorian trainer David Hayes.
Albury mayor Kevin Mack, Commercial Club president Barry Edmunds and Robl unveiled the cup trophy at the launch yesterday.
Cr Mack revealed he and Mr Edmunds were former part-owners of a horse who finished third in the Gold Cup 20 years ago.
Out Of The Pack filled the minor placing behind Wangaratta-trained Jovial Dancer.
Cr Mack recalled the horse had been purchashed from South Australia and won the Towong Cup before running third in 1994.
“The thrill of winning a race anywhere as an owner is indescribable,” Cr Mack said.
He said the Gold Cup was Albury’s biggest sporting and social event and followed recent major sporting fixtures including the A-League soccer match for premiership points and Super Rugby trial game.
“Apart from its economic benefit the cup is a great opportunity to come together for a fun filled family day,” Cr Mack said.
“It is a wonderful event.
“The numbers it generates tell the story.”