THE weather gods have smiled on Albury Racing Club for the star studded gold cup meeting to go ahead today.
Dire early predictions of rain, which would have plunged the event into serious doubt and potentially dealt the club a crippling financial body blow, have failed to materialise.
More than 15,000 gold cup punters will again pack the racecourse for the biggest sporting and social event in Albury with a forecast top temperature of 27 degrees.
The only threat of rain is an isolated thunderstorm.
The gold cup carnival kicked off yesterday with the running of the City Handicap resulting in a quinella to Canberra raider Nick Olive with Doubtful Miss and Capital Commander.
Trainers reacted to the predicted heavy going with 20 scratchings yesterday morning.
Cup day scratchings will be taken at 7.30am today, but most races including the cup are expected to hold up.
The only gold cup scratching is Tanby from Lloyd Williams, but his powerful stable will be still represented by well fancied stablemate
The Albury track was rated slow before the meeting after 14 millimetres of rain in the previous 24 hours.
But it improved to dead before the running of the City Handicap late in the day.
Last year’s cup meeting was also affected by rain as the club awaits funding from Racing NSW for a major track upgrade.
Today’s $170,000 gold cup has the potential to be a financial bonanza with betting turnover likely to reach record levels.
The presence of some of Australia’s leading stables including Williams, Gai Waterhouse, Peter Moody, David Hayes and Peter Snowden and star jockeys Luke Nolen, Damien Oliver, Hugh Bowman, Blake Shinn and Craig Newitt will attract punters from Australia and overseas.
The club had an early boost when it was the only meeting to be completed in NSW yesterday following the cancellation of Hawkesbury after three races.
More than 250 raceday staff will service the needs of the large crowd which could boosted by a larger than normal contingent from Wodonga which doesn’t enjoy the half-day holiday.
Wodonga Catholic schools have been granted a Bishop’s Day holiday which coincides with the gold cup.
Club chief executive John Miller said all was in readiness after a few anxious days.
“It is fair to say everyone is fairly relieved with how the weather has panned out,” he said.
“I won’t rest until I see the scratchings.
“But it has been hard to predict because the forecast has been constantly changing.”