By MARK BRASSEL
Don’t be fooled into thinking Friday’s Muswellbrook Lone Pine Charge race meeting is a run-of-the-mill eight-race program. According to Muswellbrook Race Club’s General Manager, Duane Dowell, it’s a “springboard to stardom”.
“We have a couple of two-year-old races – the Miss Finland and Star Kingdom – and it’s amazing how many top-flight horses have come out of those races,” Mr Dowell remarked.
“These two races have a history of launching quality gallopers.
“Voodoo Lad (four-time stakes winner of more than $1 million) was having just his second start when he won the Star Kingdom and it was a particularly strong race as he defeated Star Shaft who went on to win two Highway races in the city.
“Other winners have been Flippant (five stakes wins and $650,000 in prizemoney), Big Money (10 wins; $808,000) and the good mare Fickle Folly (six wins; $242,000).
“Last year the promising Lord Cecil, who has been stakes-placed from just six starts, beat Junglized who went on to win races at Canterbury Park, Hawkesbury and Canberra.”
The $25,000 Miss Finland Handicap (1000m) is for two-year-old fillies and the $25,000 Star Kingdom Handicap (1000m) is for colts and geldings.
Top Novocastrian trainer Kris Lees is likely to take up a team for the Miss Finland including the unraced trio of Dundee Lee, Lady of Shalott and Miss Cronulla. And Lees is looking at Charlie’s Law (unraced) and Fearless Al, who narrowly won on debut at Tamworth, for the Star Kingdom.
Another feature race on the Muswellbrook card is the $25,000 Lone Pine Charge (1000m) which offers a unique trophy to the winning owners.
“This race ties up with our ANZAC Day celebrations,” Mr Dowell said. “And the perpetual trophy is amazing. It’s an 18-pounder artillery shell with a base made from cypress pine. It is a really unique trophy.”
Meanwhile, next Saturday will see race meetings at Ballina, Merriwa (77km west of Muswellbrook), Hillston (286km west of Parkes) and the popular Tomingley picnic races.
Tomingley, 57km south-west of Dubbo, regularly attracts a sizeable crowd and this year a Calcutta kicks off proceedings at the Cross Roads Hotel from 6:30pm. It’s the same venue the following day for the race meeting’s ‘after-party’.
Tomingley hosts a ‘Family Day’ with a Fashions on the Field contest, a bar, canteen and plenty of children’s entertainment.