Scene set for Avoca Cup

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A crowd of 4500 is expected for tomorrow’s $15,000 PJA and Blue Pyrenees Avoca Cup.

With Mornington-based Escape Artist likely to have a tilt at his third consecutive Cup, and Ballarat trainer Barry James also chasing a third Cup victory, the scene is set for a particularly lively day’s racing.

Avoca Shire Turf Club manager Gus Harrison says the Avoca track is in top condition and some records may well be set at tomorrow’s meeting, a highlight of the country racing season.

Club events manager Kate Kirkpatrick says package bookings are up by 20 percent.

“The track’s in magnificent condition. It’s been irrigated during the week,” Mr Harrison said.

“It will be a Dead 4, perfect racing conditions and we’re expecting records to be set.”

Ballarat trainer Barry James is chasing his third Avoca Cup in 23 years — his second in five seasons.

The James-trained Nimble Man won the cup, setting a track record way back in 1988.

That record was bettered in 2007 when another James stable starter, Sylvan Court, scored Cup victory in 2007, breaking the record set by Nimble Man.

That was when the Cup was run over 1800 metres, Mr Harrison said.

For tomorrow’s Cup, now run over 1860m, James’ Sylvan Lodge is a starter.

And the 2009 and 2010 Cup winner, nine-year-old Escape Artist, is back for a shot at history among cceptances for tomorrow’s feature race on the seven race program.

“It sets up a bit of a scene for a good race,” Mr Harrison said.

“If both Sylvan Lodge and Escape Artist accept it will set the scene for a really good race.”

A Country Cup specialist, trained by Mornington’s Peter White, the veteran Escape Artist has competed in the Warrnambool, Mornington, Ballarat, Kyneton and Terang cups notching up 17 wins and 28 minor placings in 123 careers starts.

Ms Kirkpatrick says a swag of trackside attractions including two live bands, the $4500 Stryde Fashions event and plenty of food vendors are also in store for racegoers.

By Wednesday about 40 trackside camp sites at the picturesque Avoca racecourse had been secured by racegoers who plan to stay on a little longer.

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