By Gary Harley
Cessnock trainer Jeremy Sylvester, already with eight Jungle Juice Cups on his mantelpiece, is hopeful rather than confident that his 10-year-old sprinter Aomen can win today’s $35,000 Cessnock Leagues Club Jungle Juice Cup (1350m).
The former baker and his close friend Robert Thompson have combined to win six Jungle Juice Cups and Sylvester has called on the Australian Hall of Famer to ride Aomen today. The class runner of the field, Aomen ($15 on TAB fixed odds), who started his career in Hong Kong in 2012, has to lump 62kg and has drawn barrier 10 in the 12-horse field.
Sylvester discussed Aomens’ prospects with yours truly from his Kitchener property: “Aomen is racing well enough, however, the big weight and the wide barrier will make it difficult. My horse races best when on the pace and there are a few in the Cup which like to lead or be in the first couple.
"I freshened him up after I bought him home from Queensland at the end of July. I was happy with his first-up run in the Newcastle Hurricane when he was beaten three lengths. Last start Aomen had no luck in the Denman Cup at Muswellbrook.
"My wife Caroline and I only paid $6000 for him about 12 months ago. Before we bought Aomen he hadn’t won a race since October 2014. My level of confidence is not high because of the weight and the barrier but I have the right man in the saddle and my fingers crossed.” Sylvester said.
Thompson has ridden an incredible 11 Jungle Juice Cup winners. Fellow Cessnock trainer Dean Jackson has resurrected the career of 7yo mare Annandale Lass ($11 into $7.50) and he is confident she can provide him with the highlight of his three-year training career.
“My mare has never raced better and the Jungle Juice Cup is an ideal race for her. She won the Muswellbrook Tiara three starts back and last start Annandale Lass was runner-up in the Denman Cup at Muswellbrook.
"She has had four or five trainers in three states during her career. She finished third in last year’s Jungle Juice Cup when Grahame Payne trained her. Vad Bolozhinskyi rode her for the first-time last start and he will have the mount.
"My brother Brett only paid $6000 for Annandale Lass and she has won more than $58,000 for us. The Muswellbrook Tiara is my biggest win but the hometown Jungle Juice Cup would be my best result in the three years,” Jackson said.
Cessnock’s sporting hero of the 1970s Grahame Payne, these days a successful thoroughbred trainer and hotelier, claims there is room for one more trophy in his cabinet and he hopes it is the 2017 Jungle Juice Cup.
In the 70s Payne won a Newcastle first grade rugby league premiership with Cessnock and a Newcastle first grade soccer premiership with Weston. Payne has enjoyed success when buying tried Victorian horses and his gelding from south of the border Exacting has a chance in the Jungle Juice Cup. Exacting ($10) was only beaten three and a half lengths in the Randwick Highway last Saturday. He was a close second at Scone two starts back.
The 2017 Jungle Juice Cup is a very competitive race. Last year’s Cessnock Cup winner Next Level ($10) will run with Sydney’s top apprentice Rachel King in the saddle. Smart Tamworth galloper Hammoon Boy ($7) will be well fancied as will Wyong-trained Kanguru ($4.40) which is ready to win again.