With the Melbourne Spring Carnival done and dusted for another year, all roads now lead to Gundagai and their famous Snake Gully Cup Carnival.
The carnival is run over two days, with the feature race, the $55,000 Snake Gully Cup being held on Friday the 15th of November. Day 2 of the Carnival is Hair of The Dog Day, taken from the colloquial saying, “the hair of the dog that bit you”.
The Snake Gully Cup Carnival has become an integral part of the Gundagai social and sporting calendar. It has continued to increase in popularity over the years since its inception way back in 1985. The race takes its name from the radio serial “Dad and Dave” which was hugely popular during the war. In the serial there was a dramatic build-up to a fictitious cup race that was featured in the days leading up to the Melbourne Cup Carnival. In the show ‘Dad’ had a horse running in the Snake Gully Cup and fierce rivalry between him and Ted Ramsay, a rather testy neighbour with his own runner, provided the drama. Of course Dad’s horse duly won. Its name was Gay Pride. From this the Snake Gully Cup was born from an idea presented to the Gundagai-Adelong Race club committee by local identity Ted Tout and his family.
With an iconic name, a picturesque race track and an attention grabbing trophy, the race wasted no time in entrenching itself in the NSW racing calendar. All this is due to the incredibly hard working committee, both past and present, and an idea floated by the late Ted Tout.
The race itself attracts horses of metropolitan standard and the form from recent renewals has often stood up in subsequent Sydney meetings. There has been many memorable winners over the years but the one that sticks out is Carvalin, who was trained locally by David Blundell for a syndicate of Gundagai people. The roar from the crowd as he stormed down the straight, shook the Murrumbidgee Blue Gums to their roots.
Two trainers who have had plenty of success in the Snake Gully Cup are Canberra based trainer Mathew Dale and Wagga based trainer Dave Heywood. Dale has won 3 Cups at 4 attempts, while Heywood won 3 of the first 9 Cups. After he won the 2012 Cup with Lebrechaun, Dale said there was something special about the Snake Gully Cup that always made the race a priority for him. ”These country races are the heart and soul of the game,” he said, “You win races in town and you just don’t get the same feeling as winning these sort of races”. Will either trainer add a 4th Cup to their tally? Only time will tell as both have runners nominated for this years edition.
Apart from the racing, there are a wide range of attractions to make the Carnival a fantastic weekend. There is the Snake Gully Cup Calcutta, conducted at the Gundagai District Services Club on Thursday the 14th of November, commencing at 7.30pm. Also on Cup Day there is over $3000 worth of prizes to be won in Fashions On The Field, category’s include; Elegant Lady, Best Dressed Couple and a Millinery Award. Saturday’s Hair of The Dog meeting, is billed as a family day and there is plenty of free entertainment for the kids. The open lawns and shady trees of the Gundagai racetrack provide the perfect picnic atmosphere. Shuttle buses run to and from the track on both days, picking up from Motels and Hotels around the town.
Marquee packages are available and have been very popular in the past. They create a wonderful carnival atmosphere which is even more appealing in the rustic setting of a country racetrack.
So take the track winding back and experience some high class country racing in a beautiful setting.
PS – The Lamb Cutlets at The Family Hotel are the Best in Australia.