May 16, 2017

THE Echuca Cup holds a special place in the hearts of trainers Daryl and Rhys Archard.

Twelve months ago the father-son duo were celebrating an amazing double and what made the occasion even more memorable was the wins came at their home track.

And with this year’s Echuca Cup less than a week away the attention has again turned to the racing track where the memorable events unfolded.

It started with Daryl’s Leveraction taking out the 1400m Moama Bowling Club Echuca Cup before their second winner in the final race of the day with Rhys’ Make Mine Brandy in the Sportsbet BM64 1200m.

The event marked Rhys’ first win as a sole-trainer and Daryl’s first Echuca Cup — with both ridden by apprentice jockey Brooke Sweeney.

It’s always important for local trainers to support their home cup with quite a few big names around town in Gwenda and Mick Johnstone and Mick Cornish and Donna Gaskin.

‘‘There are a lot of owners around town who want to have as many runners as possible,’’ Rhys said. ‘‘Last year’s win was pretty special. Any win is nice, but to do it at your home track is always better.’’

Although it’s early days with nominations still open for the Cup, Rhys hoped Make Mine Brandy would be going back for a second Cup day win at Echuca.

‘‘I’m not sure yet which race she’ll run in,’’ he said. ‘‘But she’s finding form at the right time and hopefully lightning can strike twice for her.’’

The seven-year-old New Zealand bay mare has had four career wins to date from 49 starts and came third at her most recent race in Wangaratta on May 8 in the 1170m BM58.

Make Mine Brandy ran fifth here on April 9 in the 1000m BM58.

The Archard stables were yet to fill the void of Leveraction who retired at the end of 2016 with an injury.

‘‘We’ve been trialling a few good horses and hopefully one will come along soon,’’ Archard said.

‘‘A lot will depend on the fields and barriers which aren’t out yet and the state of the track.’’

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