By Tony Megahey
Identical training twins Emma and Lucy Longmire, introduced to the interminable bond between the racing and rugby league fraternities, also oppose a close mate and mentor in a TAB $60,000 Highway Handicap at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
For Twinstar Racing, in form stablemates Newtown Bluebag and So It Is, contest a 1600m Class 3 episode against popular ten-time series winner and Goulburn training neighbour Danny Williams - the twins’ former boss.
Newtown Bluebag (Lope de Vega) a strong second at long odds in a Warwick Farm Highway race two weeks ago, is part owned by “old boy” members of the famous Rugby League formation club, Barry Cotter and Terry Rowney. Along with some famous rugby league names, they recently celebrated Newtown’s 110-year history.
“This lovely old guy wearing a Newtown footy guernsey came up to us at Warwick Farm, wished us all the best and said what it meant to him and his footy mates,” Emma explained.
“He said this horse had a big following because of the old club traditions, it was so nice. Newtown Bluebag races in the club colours of blue and white and white armbands. I reckon they’ll be coming out of the woodwork at Randwick. It’d be lovely if we could win for them and he’s racing well enough to do it.
“We need the pace on so he can finish off but his run at Warwick Farm was huge. And the bigger Randwick track, the long straight and a smaller field suits him.
“Same with the mare, she’s third-up and will run it strongly. And she’s got ability and so much upside.
“Our friends were talking up a quinella but that would be too much to hope for. One of them winning would be just fantastic.”
The 56.5kg for Newtown Bluebag will be reduced by Blaike McDougall’s 3.5kg claim.
Meanwhile racing high roller and breeder John Singleton was Newtown’s profile major backer when the old Bluebags reverted to the Newtown Jets in the late 1970’s through the era of coaching greats and multiple premiership winners Jack Gibson and Warren Ryan. Boxing training great Johnny Lewis was a then a Newtown committeeman.
The list is endless of high profile league players and commentators who have been involved in racing syndicates. Singleton and Ray Hadley race horses in partnership. Paul Vautin, Darryl Brohman, Laurie Daley and Ricky Stuart have part owned city winners. A much lighter Billy Slater was a track work rider at Randwick, recruited by the Storm over a decade ago after a jockeys game of touch against the Melbourne premiership giants. Jarrod Croker, Robbie Farah, Chris Lawrence and the Burgess brothers have racing interests. And in previous years the Johns brothers and Newcastle team-mates were in racing syndicates with an emerging Kris Lees who remains a staunch Knights supporter.
Emma and Lucy are looking forward to the challenge at headquarters of taking on Williams’ stablemates, favourite O’Lordy and Arrondissment.
“Danny is a great mate, Lucy worked and rode track work for Danny for near seven years after Guy Walter,” Emma explains.
“I worked with Danny for about a year before I took out a training licence. He taught us so much and is a lovely guy and true gentleman.”