Driver Blake Hughes.
FEBRUARY is shaping as being one of the biggest months of racing seen at Newcastle International Paceway for some time.
The Newcastle Harness Racing club is rolling out a new series on its calendar, which will be known as Febfest.
Run on three Friday nights in succession and kicking off on February 3, the club will hold the first of its feature races, the revamped Newcastle Cup to be run over the stayers’ distance of 2550 metres.
A $15,000 Ladyship Pace features on the second Friday, then on February 17 the Club’s TAB Carnival Of Cups program will be highlighted by the running of the Group 1, $100,000 Newcastle Mile.
Local reinsman Blake Hughes is excited about his involvement in Febfest as he hopes to play a strong hand throughout Febfest.
In the meantime, Hughes, who is one of the state’s most promising young reinsmen, has a strong book of drives on tonight’s nine-race program at Newcastle.
“It is one of the best books of drives that I have had in quite a while,” said Hughes.
“Each of the horses I am driving has strong claims.
“Hopefully I can do them justice and kick home a few winners.”
Hughes singled out consistent filly Shiralee as one of his better chances of winning in Race 7.
Trained by his mentor Clayton Harmey, the three-year-old has drawn perfectly in gate one and according to Hughes should get every chance to break back into the winners’ circle.
“This will be Shiralee’s fourth run since returning from a long spell and she has drawn perfectly in gate one,” said the young reinsman.
“We have been happy with her recent efforts and her work at home as well, so I do expect her to give this race a good shake.”
Recent Inter City Pace heat winner Im Quick As Fire is another that Hughes has signaled as a solid winning chance - in Race 5.
Also trained by Clayton Harmey, Im Quick As Fire will be advantaged by his gate one draw as there is likely to be an abundance of speed early in the race, which should allow the gelding to balance up just off the pace.
“I really feel the race will shape well for Im Quick As Fire as he has the speed to hold a position early and plenty of bottom to be strong late,” said Hughes.