The nominations are up 15 per cent on last year and have been buoyed by trainers wanting to show their support as the island attempts to recover from the recent bushfires.
The cup, to be run on Saturday (February 22), so far has 17 nominations including last year’s winner Table of Wisdom while another race has 23 nominations, forcing organisers to consider adding an additional event to the seven-race card.
Track specialist Hurricane Sonny will again make the trip to KI, aiming to add to his record of seven wins and six seconds at the track.
Final fields will not be declared until after acceptances on Tuesday for Thursday’s races and Wednesday for Saturday’s cup meeting.
The size of the starting gates and the track at the Cygnet River track limit each race to a maximum of 10 starters with capacity fields a real possibility for a number of events.
Thoroughbred Racing SA and carnival sponsor Sealink are covering the ferry costs for trainers who bring more than one horse.
This has lured a number of the state’s leading trainers including Gordon Richards, Phillip Stokes, Will Clarken, David Jolly and Ryan Balfour have nominated horses for the carnival.
Kangaroo Island trainers David Hall and David Huxtable will carry the hopes of a local winner or two across the 14 races.
Jolly, who brought a couple of horses over for the lead-up meeting on January 25, said the travel subsidy made coming for the carnival “very attractive” and was no more expensive than taking horses to other country venues a reasonable distance from Adelaide such as Naracoorte and Port Augusta.
“There’s a feeling about that with what’s happened that people want to support the club and put a bit back into the local economy,” he said.
Morphettville-based boutique trainer Paula Trenwith has been bringing horses to the KI Cup carnival for 20 years and won the 2013 cup with St Ives.
“I had my first winner here in 2002 and I was coming here before that so it’s been quite a while,” she said.
Trenwith brought three horses to the Cygnet River track for the January 25 race day, saddling up two winners and a third place. She has nominated Gwent, Maori Magic and Superveloce again for the coming carnival.
“I enjoy supporting the bush communities and I tend to go to a lot of the country meetings and it’s just such a great few days away.
“It’s a bit of a unique trip for the horses having to go in a ferry across the water when they normally just get driven in a float to the races.
“Even talking to the trainers at the last Kangaroo Island meeting they had the option of taking their horses to Bordertown or Port Lincoln and instead of taking horses there they brought them over to KI just to support the local community and to say ‘we’re here for you’.”
Organisers are expecting a record crowd across the two-days with up to 4000 people heading trackside on Saturday. The previous record was 2800.
Thursday’s races will also be broadcast nationally on free-to-air television through Channel 7’s Racing.com. Saturday’s races will be shown on Sky Racing.
The Kangaroo Island fires began on December 20 and burnt 210,000ha – almost half of the island – across a 612 km perimeter before being declared contained on January 21.
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