By Tony Megahey
Cessnock’s historic Cup meeting on Friday sees accomplished training local Jeremy Sylvester combine with his rookie apprentice and a record breaking female jockey while maintaining his long association with a veteran Hall of Fame riding great.
Sylvester has three value runners to be ridden by Robert Thompson, Rachael Murray, and Jeremy’s first season four-kilo claimer, 19-year old Lexie McPherson.
Lexie has ridden one winner, Prince Coureuse at Port Macquarie on Melbourne Cup day for Taree trainer Tess Wilkes. She rides promising Dee You See Kay in the opening event, Thompson rides Tangarra Express in race three, while Murray rides former Victorian Von Classic Hero in the Cup.
Cessnock’s annual Cup meet has again drawn the formidable presence of Newcastle’s multiple Group winning regional trainers Paul Perry and Kris Lees, along with Bjorn Baker, Mitch Newman and Rod Northam for an in depth eight-race Cup programme.
A focus at the meeting will be Lees' promising three-year-old Sepoy gelding Kettering who started at $1.35 and won a Newcastle maiden by a widening 2.4 lengths in fast time, after starting favourite in a Canterbury Park maiden.
“He’s progressed since he won that maiden convincingly enough, a nice competitive type, and we expect him to be hard to beat again up to a suitable class 2,” Lees assessed. Kettering contests a 106.9 Newcastle class 2, 900m with Aaron Bullock to ride.
Meanwhile Sylvester’s runner in the $30,000 Royal Oak Hotel sponsored 1350m Cessnock Cup is an intriguing new addition in former Victorian galloper Von Classic Hero. A four race winner, Von Classic Hero has been placed at Sandown and was competitive in Saturday grade at Flemington.
The six-year-old gelding will be ridden by Rachael Murray, the first female jockey to ride 100 winners in a New South Wales racing season.
Sylvester was best man at Robert Thompson’s wedding thirty years ago and their winners on Hunter tracks over the years have been just about countless. They combine with Tangarra Express in the Tyrell’s Wine Maiden (1570m). Promising Dee You See Kay contests the 106.9 Newcastle Class 2 (900m). A winner at Tamworth and Kempsey last prep, Dee You See Kay has been primed by recent barrier trials at Wyong and Newcastle. Tangarra Express has improved with a recent Port Macquarie maiden placings.
In the Cup, Thompson rides the Ken Parker trained Invicta, favourite on the strength of a recent winning treble at Warwick Farm, Newcastle and Cessnock. And he drops in grade after a last start defeat in a much tougher Rosehill Gardens Saturday company to Bjorn Baker’s Redouble. Cessnock’s track rating is a good four in fine conditions.