Big crowd expected at annual The Hunter at Newcastle Racecourse

Newcastle Racecourse is expecting a big crowd this Saturday for the annual $1 million The Hunter.

Now in its fourth year, The Hunter will see thousands of people flock to the racecourse for the ten-race metropolitan standalone meeting with total prizemoney exceeding $2.5 million.

The 1300 metre race for top class sprinters is quickly becoming Newcastle version of ‘The Everest’ with last year’s winner being the James Cummings trained Vilana who is a multiple Group winner.

Racecourse CEO Duane Dowell said there’s lots more on offer this year.

“Last year we had 5000 people so we’d like to think we will improve on that. The fact that Sneaky Sound System is playing afterwards, we think will provide that uplift in attendance.

“Kris Lees will be the main player in The Hunter. Rustic Steel will be very popular once people realise it is the one representing Newcastle and it’s not without a strong chance. Look for it late, it’ll be coming down the outside straight!”

Duane said they have noticed an uptick in numbers for all of their Saturday race days.

“Since I started two years ago we have seen a continual increase in just our Saturday attendance. We race 22 Saturdays a year and its a place now where the young people like to come.

“Coming to the races on a Saturday afternoon in Newcastle is sexy again. People want to come and get dressed up and enjoy a good day out,” he said.

Kris Lees after winning the 2022 Big Dance.

Newcastle horse trainer Kris Lees hasn’t won the biggest race on his hometown track yet, but Rustic Steel has a good chance Saturday.

The six-year-old won the Big Dance at Royal Randwick last year as well as the Darley Scone Cup.

“Really happy with the horse, but unfortunately its come up with Barrier 18 which makes the task a little difficult, but we’re pleased to have a horse in The Hunter.

“He’s in good order and I think he will still run well,” Kris said.

Lees Racing also has filly Kind Words in the Spring Stakes that won last week at Hawksbury.

“This is a big jump in grade from the maiden but on the home track, the opportunity to run in a group 3 race, I think she will run well.”

Broadmeadow trainer Sam Kavanagh is excited to have a runner in the Spring Stakes as well after a challenging year dealing with a cancer diagnosis.

“I’ve got a horse called Metallic Ruler that we purchased two years ago as a yearling so its exciting to get him to a race at this level.

“It’s very exciting to run on the home track and bring owners along and support the meeting.

“Our track is world class and that was shown last year when we hosted a Group 1 meeting. The Hunter meeting the last few years has been a huge success. I had 30 owners here last year and it’s all about getting locals involved and if we can get our owners from the city and interstate here to be a part of it it’s important for the town.”