ORGANISERS of today's inaugural Grampians Halls Gap Cup are thrilled with the strong field assembled for the $15,000 feature event.
Halls Gap Tourism chairman Geoff Watts said he was pleased leading trainers Peter Moody and Darren Weir would contest the 1310-metre race in Stawell.
Top weight Some Target, trained by Weir and to be ridden by leading Wimmera hoop Dean Yendall, appears the one to beat on current form.
The promising five-year-old has won four of 11 starts, including an impressive last-start victory at Echuca.
Some Target will need to overcome a wide barrier draw and will face competition from Moody's Covered in Class, which has drawn favourably in barrier three. Covered in Class ran fourth to Some Target at Echuca after being held up rounding the home turn.
Aside from these two, the field looks even, offering a number of winning hopes.
Freshwater Storm, from the stable of Geelong trainer Tony Parker, will be one to watch.
The four-year-old gelding was racing well before failing a tougher assignment in town last start and can feature here.
Grand old campaigner Diamonds at Dusk should be ready to improve after two runs from a spell, while Final Folly and Viva Delspec, who are both suited to longer races, could finish in the money.
Viva Delpec is one of two prospects, along with Vihanna Victory, from the stable of Stawell father-daughter training combination Terry and Karina O'Sullivan.
Mr Watts said he was looking forward to a competitive day of racing, with reasonable fields in all eight races.
"There are a couple of races that only have seven horses, but the others have very strong numbers," he said.
"Considering the amount of races that have been on at the moment and we only had races at Ararat on Monday we're really happy with the number of acceptances."
Mr Watts said the meeting had generated significant local interest.
"The Quarry Restaurant is sponsoring race eight and they own a horse in it, Stable Star, which is trained by Terry O'Sullivan," he said.
"All of the races, except the Ladies in Racing Magazine maiden, have been sponsored by Halls Gap businesses." The meeting is a joint initiative of Halls Gap Tourism and Stawell Racing Club.
Mr Watts said the Grampians Halls Gap Cup would coincide with Stawell Racing Club's 'ladies day'.
He said there would be a free drink and gift for women upon arrival.
"There is a big marquee for the ladies and a separate area roped off for people from Halls Gap, Pomonal and Lake Fyans," Mr Watts said.
He said a bus service would leave Halls Gap at 11.30am and pick passengers up in Pomonal at about 11.45am and Lake Fyans at about 11.50am.
He said there were still seats available and bookings could be made by calling 0400 615 305.