SATURDAY'S K. and J. Baker Murtoa Cup field will be boosted by the inclusion of reigning Hobart Cup winner Hurdy Gurdy Man.
The six-year-old entire, trained by Ballarat’s Darren Weir, is looking to return to the winners’ circle after a lengthy break.
He finished last in his most recent outing in Ballarat on September 22 after a brush with another horse and Weir will be looking for an improved result at Murtoa.
Hurdy Gurdy Man will again start with the top weight and an outside draw in Saturday's $25,000 feature.
Ridden by Irish jumps jockey John Allen, he will carry 62.5 kilograms over the 2050 metres.
Standing in their way will be the Greg Baker-trained Be Tolerant, which is part-owed by Murtoa’s Paul Brown.
The Horsham-trained mare will be ridden by reigning Murtoa Cup hoop Linda Meech, who will be out to claim her third Murtoa feature.
Be Tolerant finished an unlucky fifth in the Coleraine Cup on Sunday and will be one to beat.
The daughter of Show A Heart will jump from barrier six and carry 54 kilograms.
Murtoa-Marma Racing Club director Majella Ballantine expects Coleraine Cup winner Orientaped to feature strongly.
“He’s coming off a second at Warracknabeal and a win at Coleraine – winning form is good form and he’ll be hard to beat,” she said.
Trained by Warrnambool’s Brenton and Mark Primmer, he will be ridden by apprentice jockey Harry Coffey.
Ballantine also likes the look of the Barbara Marshman-trained Rilelilmag, who finished third at Coleraine.
She said the committee was pleased with the strong 11-horse cup field.
She said the eight-race meeting was well-supported by metropolitan trainers, including Peter Moody, John McArdle and Luke Oliver.
“Wimmera trainers Terry and Karina O’Sullivan and Daryl Dodson are loyal supporters of Wimmera racing and also have a few horses in,” she said.
Ballantine has Grand Schiller out to claim its first win in race two, the 1200-metre Cec Hopper and Sons Maiden Plate.
“It’s his first start for me. I’m looking at him for a mile but I expect him to run a good race,” she said. “All of the Murtoa committee members own a stake in him, so it will create a bit of interest.”
Ballantine encouraged people to make their way to Murtoa Racecourse from 11am Saturday.
“It’s going to be a day of good quality racing on a well-prepared track,” she said.
She said the track was in excellent condition despite wet weather throughout the week.
“I expect we’ll start as a dead four and I’m almost certain it will come up to a good three,” she said.
The first race jumps at 12.40pm, with the K. and J. Baker Murtoa Cup taking place at 4pm.