The big crowds of past years were eclipsed on Saturday by the massive turnout at the iconic Louth races held at the small village between Bourke and Cobar.
To thunderous applause the Rodney Robb, Nyngan trained Rusty Motorbike gained a photo finish decision in the $24,000 Landmark Dermot Murray Memorial Louth Cup ( 2000m) after an exciting battle with the top weight Zartini over the concluding stages.
Given a good run in fifth position by jockey Michael Hackett, nine-year-old Rusty Motorbike ($4) hit the lead in the straight and prevailed by a short half head over the Mark Ward-trained Zartini (Tony Cavallo, $5) with Collins Street (Richard Bensley, $7) from the Craig Tyack stables at Tullibigeal a length and a half away third.
Rusty Motorbike won the Louth Cup in 2016 and has now won three times at the track.
Robb also won Saturday’s opening event, the Cobar Rugby Union Club Maiden Plate (1000m) with debutant Supreme Attraction ($2.10 favourite). Supreme Attraction led all the way for a convincing win from Hi My Girl (Jake Pracey-Holmes, $3) and Brimondo (Alena Skerritt, $8).
Supreme Attraction was ridden by the widely travelled Michael Heagney, who was aboard a winner at Port Hedland in Western Australia last week after riding the previous week at meetings in the Riverina.
Strongly supported in the betting ring, the Wayne Prisk-trained Jawsome fought back to win the Matilda Motor Inn & Orana Motel Dubbo Class 2 Handicap (1400m).
Jawsome (Jake Pracey-Holmes, $10) beat Amare (Tony Cavallo, $5) and Heeby Frenly (Ken Dunbar, $16).
Following a recent win with Quietly Confident, Dubbo trainer Cindy Monaghan and her partner Tim Moses won the Sullivans Mining & Hardware and Bourke Steel & Hire Benchmark 55 Handicap (1200m) with Minamahal, ridden by Canberra jockey Richard Bensley.
Setting a new track record, Minamahal ($3.60) burst through the pack to defeat Mambo Fever (Wendy Peel, $7) and Vonnida (Jake Pracey-Holmes, $3.50).
With Tiffany Jeffries in the saddle, the Garry Bignell-trained Little Leena ($5) led throughout to win the Rice’s Back’O Bourke Cordials Splashe Cola Maiden Handicap (1400m) while Bon Honour (Wendy Peel, $9) led all the way to win the Shindy’s Inn Lets Have A Lager Lap Class 3 Handicap (1700m).
Louth doubled the prizemoney for the 60th anniversary meeting and with big fields and trainers coming from far and wide there was the likelihood of close finishes and there was dead heat for first in the MacDonald & Co Woolbrokers Class 1 Handicap (1000m).
The photo was unable to split Brett Thompson’s Algeroba (Alena Skerritt, $4) and Original Prankster (Richard Bensley, $3), trained at Canberra by Garry Kirkup.
Finishing third was Raine Joy (Tiffany Jeffries, $21) trained at Menindee by Wayne Marsden.