HARNESS racing returns to Forbes this Sunday, with the running of the annual ANZAC Day meeting that features the Diggers Cup and six Memorial races.
Forbes trainer Adam Bellach has been on fire of late, nabbing some winners and placings at very generous odds, and he is keen to continue on that run this weekend.
"We've just got a couple of nice horses in work at the moment, and this little purple patch has been amazing," he said earlier this week.
"We have a very good strike rate for ANZAC Day meetings so we are really excited to be racing in Forbes again."
The feature race for the meeting, as always, will be the Forbes RSL Subbranch Diggers Cup - and Bellach has a live hope with seven-year-old mare Carlas Angel, who is fresh off a win in Parkes last Saturday.
"Carlas Angel will need to get a good run (from third on the front row) and have a bit of luck, but if she does she can absolutely win it.
"I'm really happy to have Abbie (Howell) in the gig because she has been gelling really well with her."
It'll be a battle of the concession drivers in the $10,000 Cup, with Howell, Madi Young, Justin Reynolds, Travis Bullock and Blake Micallef all helping trainers reduce their National Ratings for the race.
Steve Turnbull runner Maximus Red is by far the highest rated (NR92 down to 87) horse in the race, while Make Mine Memphis has been racing in much stronger company of late, including a 1:55.4 win in Bathurst on March 24.
Bellach has previously won the Diggers Cup with Perfect Distraction in 2017, and has also taken out the Clarrie and Val Robb Memorial in the past - so he is excited to have Rocknroll Ranger in the race that honours two prominent Forbes harness racing identities.
"When I was a boy, Clarrie and Val were the big trainers here so I really looked up to them.
"Clarrie was a great horseman, so much so he used to work Inter Dominion horses and to just be able to participate in this race is special - winning it would be incredible," Bellach said.
The Rock N Roll Heaven x Jennas Ranger gelding is just six races into his career, but he has already netted one win and two second placings - including a 2:00.2 win in Bathurst on debut at the handy price of $15.
Gate 5 on the front row will be a little tricky but with Angela Hedges in the gig the gelding is in very good hands.
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Bellach is also a part owner of the Gary Eyre-trained Royal Feeling, who will be starting from gate 1 in the Forbes RSL Subbranch Les Findley Memorial.
The gelding is still looking for his first win for Eyre, and will need to improve several lengths to compete with this field, but from the gun draw anything could happen.
A Club Menangle Country Series Heat will also be run, with trainers looking for a spot in the $20,000 final to be run at Menangle on May 1.
A pair of Nathan Hurst runners come into the race on the back of wins and placings in the past five starts - Im Major Harry and Gabbys Sportstar.
The latter has the better draw and has been extremely consistent this season, but will face stiff opposition in the form of the Steve Turnbull-trained Ideologist - who has five wins and six minor placings in his 15 starts since moving to Australia from across the ditch.
With six memorial races on Sunday afternoon, it's no doubt going to be a special meeting for Bellach and others involved the industry.
"Robert Lee was also huge for harness racing here in Forbes so it's fantastic to be able to have these Memorial races in honour of people that have given so much to the industry here," Bellach said.
Gates open at 12pm this Sunday, with the first race to begin at 12.58pm.
There will be full canteen and bar facilities on-course while there will be both local bookmakers and TAB facilities for punters.
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