By Rod Fuller
History is one of the great aspects of the horse racing industry and the stage is set for another chapter to be written around the $150,000 Carlton Draught Port Macquarie Cup on Friday.
With a race steeped in years of tradition the name of Robert Thompson is firmly etched in the great highlights of the event. “RT” heads the honour roll with wins in 1985 aboard Jo Oughto and followed that with success the following year on Royal Decor. 1989 saw his mount Lord Hundalee salute and fast forward to 2014 when World Wide scored for the late, great trainer Bede Murray.
Friday’s race has the great man piloting last year’s winner, Sofin, and if sentimentality means anything, there will be plenty wishing for back to back victories.
The Shannon Fry-trained mare was responsible for a comprehensive victory in the 2016 cup and made up good ground in the recent prelude to be considered a real chance.
If Sofin is successful, the horse would join the record books with Johnny Reb and Precise Timing as being able to win successive cup trophies. The Port Macquarie circuit holds great memories for Robert Thompson as he broke the Australasian riding record of 3372 wins previously held by the late riding legend, Jack Thompson at the course in 2008.
In 2014, Thompson reached another milestone by riding 4000 wins at Broadmeadow and was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame as a legend in 2015. Still, as successful and professional as ever, no-one in Australian racing has ridden more winners than Thompson.
The story has been perfectly encapsulated by Konrad Marshall from the Age in a recent article:-
“Robert Thompson is not a household name. His stature (163 centimetres) and size (53 kilograms) make it easy enough to miss the hawkish athlete. Watching him compete means trying to fixate on a bouncing blur out there beyond the rails. His persona is small, too. His diminutive nickname – “RT” – is short even for a jockey. Especially for a champion jockey entering his fifth decade holding the reins. Of course, Robert Norman Thompson has been called other things. As a child he was Rocket. As a 14-year-old prodigy he was the Next Jim Pike. As a maturing star of saddle and silk he was the King of the Coalfields. And now, as a regional treasure – dominating country and provincial race meets all over New South Wales”
And there will be plenty cheering in the stands and right around Australia in the hope the Sofin and Robert Thompson combination will be first past the post in the Carlton Draught Port Macquarie Cup.