By Mark Brassel
Veteran, evergreen, ageless; whatever description is painted of jockey Robert Thompson one word is high on the list – freak!
Thompson turns 60-years-of-age next year but showed he still packs a punch at the top level by lifting $10 chance Darci’s Affair to a long head victory in Thursday’s $80,000 Carlton Draught Coffs Harbour Gold Cup (1600m).
It was Thompson’s third win in the Coffs Harbour feature with his first coming an incredible 34 years ago.
Thompson won the 1983 Coffs Harbour Cup on Justkez for Somerton trainer Keith Swan and had to wait a further 31 years before landing his second cup win aboard Southern Shimmer ($4) for Ross Stitt.
On Thursday, Thompson rode with the tactical nous of jockey less than half his age. He came from the extreme outside barrier (16) and after a few hundred metres had Darci’s Affair parked outside the leader.
Thompson then drove the horse to the front and the pair withstood all challengers to come out on top and claim the hoop’s third Coffs Cup.
The jockey said afterwards: “The horse fought on really well in the straight and each time I asked him for more he gave. I always love coming up to Coffs; it’s a great carnival and a great club.”
Only last weekend Thompson made his annual jaunt to Townsville’s big ‘amateurs’ meeting where he came away with two placings.
Meanwhile, Muswellbrook Race Club will host one of its most popular race meetings this afternoon, Bengalla Cup Day. MRC promotes the meeting as a family friendly day with fund raising for Muswellbrook Netball Association.
MRC’s general manager, Duane Dowell, said: “We always try to engage with our local community groups on our weekend racedays to help raise funds to put back into the community.
“Bengalla Mining Company has been amazing long-time sponsors of Bengalla Cup Day since 1994 when the race was originally run as the ‘Olympic Rings’ up until the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
“On course, we’ll have free kids’ entertainment including jumping castles and laser tag.”
Feature event is the $30,000 Bengalla Cup over 1280m and this day signifies the start of a busy spring racing period for Muswellbrook, culminating in the Muswellbrook Cup on 8 December.
Forbes Jockey Club will stage its Cup meeting on Monday with busloads of Bankstown Sports Club members making the three-day trip to the country. FJC formed a partnership more than 20 years ago with the Club and it’s still going strong.
“We pride ourselves in providing an authentic country racing experience and having the Bankstown guys means there’s always a great atmosphere on track,” said FJC’s secretary, Blake Nicholson.
“We also have a Cup Calcutta at Forbes Services Memorial Club on Sunday evening and it is one of the biggest in NSW,” he added.