The tiny far-west township of Penong – on the Nullarbor Plain – will host its annual Penong Cup meeting this Saturday.
The meetings is a social highlight for locals and visitors, with the day featuring on-course betting, catering and bar facilities, a fashions on the field competition, plus activities for kids.
Just four runners will contest Saturday’s 2020 Penong Cup over 1600m – but all four have winning hopes in the $12,000 feature:
Trainer Trevor Trenowden will be hoping Cup top weight It’s Humphrey can win its second Penong Cup in the past three years. It’s Humphrey landed the 2018 Cup, and finished a distant second behind stablemate Mr Jazzman last year.
This year’s Cup looks a little easier for It’s Humphrey, which took out the Lock Cup over 1900m two starts ago, before a solid fifth over 1210m at Port Lincoln earlier this month.
Onward is the first of Murray Bridge trainer John Hickmott’s two Cup runners and will likely be leading or near the lead.
It has campaigned on many of the state’s far-flung tracks during its 89-start career, and finished a creditable sixth behind the McEvoy stable’s Diplomatic Measure – beaten 5.6 lengths – on Port Lincoln Cup Day. Around this time last year, Onward enjoyed a purple patch of form, winning three of four starts on the west coast.
Abbi Fede is the baby of the field with just 26 starts, but appeals as the most likely challenger to It’s Humphrey.
Abbi Fede finished a good fifth – beaten 2.5 lengths – behind McEvoy winner Love ‘N’ Peace over 1750m on Port Lincoln Cup day and has been most consistent since late last year.
The four-year-old gelding – also trained by John Hickmott – meets It’s Humphrey a kilogram better at the weights for a 1.5-length defeat at Ceduna on January 18. A win on Saturday would make it successive Penong Cups for jockey Claudia Lions.
Hardington raced overseas early in his career, before being transferred to the Victorian-based Gelagotis stable, then onto Eric Musgrove’s yard.
The son of Fastnet Rock has had three starts for Streaky Bay trainer Tony Haddy – all this year – and performed well in the first two, finishing sixth and fourth at Port Lincoln.
Hardington will likely need to improve on his Port Lincoln Cup day run behind Love ‘N’ Peace to win the Penong Cup.
Penong Cup selections: 1. It’s Humphrey; 2. Abbi Fede; 3. Onward; 4. Hardington.