By Doug Ryan
One of the world’s richest races, the $10million The TAB Everest, and the Wauchope Blues Laurie Family Old Boys Cup take centre stage at Wauchope Jockey Club’s meeting at its home track in Beechwood Road this Saturday.
Both events afford racegoers plenty of interest in an historic Royal Randwick meeting and at Wauchope where former top Sydney rugby league player Noel Cleal will be an honoured guest. “Crusher” Cleal played rugby league for Eastern Suburbs, the Manly Sea Eagles, overseas, and was in the NSW origin team and played for Australia.
The club normally stages its Old Boys Cup over 1800m on the Monday of the October long weekend but switched this year for its five-race non-TAB meeting: “The club is hoping that the big Randwick meeting will generate plenty of interest where racegoers can watch and bet on not only the local races but also The Everest,” said club president, Greg Partridge.
One of the races at Randwick is the $200,000 Anniversary Highway Benchmark 80 Handicap over 1400m which brings together country gallopers. On course at Wauchope, punters will be able to choose between competitive betting prices from the TAB and bookmakers.
“All of Wauchope’s old boys get free entry and we are hoping for a good crowd to celebrate the occasion.”
Apart from the cup, other races are being named in honour of Cleal and old boys, such as John “Tuck” Marchment, Kurt Doherty and the under 18’s premiers for 2017. Last year’s cup was won by eight-year-old gelding Rigamarole, trained on the track by Colt Prosser and ridden by Partridge’s daughter, Mollie.
Rigamarole, the winner of nine races , with 15 placings, from 57 starts was bred by Wauchope’s Rockabee Stud, headed by Steve Smith and his wife. “It was a nice way to retire,” Smith said of Rigamarole which was having its last race.
Prosser also had a win with mare Raining On Sunday which recently won at Taree and was unplaced in a 2000m race at Port Macquarie’s Cup meeting on Friday. Other winners on the card were I Am Dynamic, ridden by Peter Graham for Scone trainer, Jenelle Butler, Midnight Swing, trained by Albury’s Jodie Bohr who was on a working holiday, and Gold Beret, trained at Port by Margaret De Gonneville.
The cup has attracted nine nominations so a maximum field should be carded when acceptances are taken on Thursday. Prosser has nominated Raining On Sunday, the mare winning her maiden in good style at last year’s cup meeting, and the other local, trainer Michael O’Neil has nominated course specialist Xerxes Dream. Other noms come from Grafton, Cessnock, Taree and Wyong.
Prosser, who normally has winners at home meetings, has nominated five gallopers whereas Wyong trainer Damien Lane has a couple of good hopes and is in fine form of late. The club would be happy with the 36 noms and could receive more with them being left open.