Australia’s leading trainer Darren Weir is set to make his first visit to the Grafton Cup Carnival since 2003 as a guest of the Clarence River Jockey Club.
Whether Weir has runners at the famous carnival is yet to be determined, although he has suggested last Saturday’s Ipswich Cup winner Tradesman is in line for a start in the $160,000 McMullan Contracting Grafton Cup (2350m) on July 12.
Weir said after the Ipswich Cup that he planned to start Tradesman in the $150,000 Caloundra Cup (2400m) at the Sunshine Coast on June 30 and then decide if he goes on to the Grafton Cup. However Tradesman is also an acceptor for Saturday’s $200,000 Tattersall’s Cup (2200m) at Doomben, giving him another option for the in-form stayer.
Weir also has other members of the team he currently has based in Brisbane under consideration for the Grafton carnival including the talented performers Ulmann and Lyuba.
Regardless of his horse plans Weir himself will be attending the Grafton Cup Carnival for only the second time in his career after accepting an invitation to be the guest speaker at the Clarence River Jockey Club’s Ramornie Handicap/Grafton Cup barrier draw luncheon on July 9.
It will be the first time Weir has visited Grafton since he had his only previous starter at the carnival in 2003 when his Group-winning mare Skewiff contested the Ramornie Handicap. Skewiff, ridden by Melbourne jockey Mark Zahra, started favourite but could finish only eighth in the Ramornie won by Brisbane sprinter Sir Breakfast.
Weir has since become the dominant trainer in Victoria, winning more than 3200 races, and is set to win the Melbourne premiership for the fifth successive season in 2017-18. He has trained 30 Group One winners with his career highlight being his Melbourne Cup victory with Prince Of Penzance in 2015.
Weir has been the leading Victorian country trainer since 2005 and this season will break the Commonwealth record for most wins in a season for the third successive year, having set a new high in 2016-17 of 449 wins around Australia.
CRJC chief executive Michael Beattie said he was thrilled that Weir accepted the invitation to attend the 2018 Grafton Cup carnival.
"Whether Darren brings horses or not this year, it will be great to have him here to experience the carnival,” Beattie said. “He will be the perfect guest for our barrier draw luncheon. I am sure that once he experiences our carnival he will become a regular visitor with a team of horses.”
The Listed Grafton Cup has a new sponsor this year with naming rights going to Clarence Valley contractor Gerry McMullan for the first time.
McMullan Contracting won the Grafton Cup rights as a member of the CRJC’s Kensei Club that offers sponsorship of the historic feature race to local businesses.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Michael Beattie Clarence River Jockey Club 02 6642 2566/0418 257397 or Chris Scholtz Pegasus Media Services 02 9344 9330/0412 352829