The Nick Olive-trained Maid of Ore will return to Gundagai on Sunday with the Canberra galloper shooting for back-to-back Gundagai Cups.
Brungle product Billy Owen guided the then six-year-old to victory in the $32,000 feature in 2021, delighting local fans when paying $5 for the win.
Olive confirmed Owen would take the ride on the Duporth mare that is more than likely to be in the markets again in 2022.
“Hopefully she can go back-to-back,” Olive said.
“Billy will be on her. He is booked to ride her and we are expecting her to run a good race.”
The seven-year-old hasn’t won since her Gundagai Cup victory, although she has contested much tougher races, having finished fifth in the $200,000 2021 Wagga Gold Cup and fourth in the $180,000 2021 Ipswich Gold Cup last preparation.
Following a 17-week spell, Maid of Ore has finished second over the 1900m at Canterbury, and only two starts ago, she finished third at Moonee Valley before a disappointing last-start 11th in the Canberra Cup when beaten 7.13 lengths
“She is a year older now but I think some of her runs have been better leading up to the cup this year compared to last year when she won,” Olive said.
“Her last run was below her best but we have freshened her up since the Canberra Cup, and we galloped her this morning (Thursday) and we thought she was back to her best.
The Gundagai Cup will be a step down in grade for Maid of Ore, and Olive hopes to see his mare back to her best in the $34,000 feature event over the 1800m journey.
“Some of her runs at Moonee Valley, Sydney and Canberra were really good and if she runs up to those, she is every chance,” Olive said.
Olive will look to bring a big team to Gundagai and he explained he always loved making the trip to the popular Southern Districts track.
“I love going to Gundagai,” Olive said.
“It’s a great little town, and obviously I am really good friends with Marty Hay and Billy and I have a really strong association with Gundagai.”
Maid of Ore will no doubt be a popular pick for all the ladies on course that will be celebrating Gundagai’s famous Ladies Day.
The club is hosting a $25 lunch on the lawn between 12pm-2pm, which includes a light two-course lunch, champagne, entertainment and free entry.
There are prizes for best dressed lady on the day and tickets are available on the day, with no RSVP necessary.