By David Gilbert
ONLY bad weather can prevent Casterton cup day this Sunday from being a runaway success.
To many in this region, it is regarded as one of the great Australian country cup days and all is in readiness for a huge day.
“The maximum number of marquees that we can have up on the hill is 40 and they have all been snapped up,” Casterton Racing Club manager John Donnelly stated earlier this week.
“Tickets will be available for the public at the gate and no proof of vaccination is required.
“The only disappointing aspect is the field numbers for the Two Rivers steeplechase which is worth $100,000 this year and will be the richest race ever run at Casterton.”
A former bookmaker who still studies the form guides closely, Donnelly is keen to guide our readers on to a winner or two for Sunday.
“If the Tom Dabernig trained Lunatic Fringe takes his place in the cup field, he has to be the one to beat, while the Mount Gambier galloper Ned And Power will be hard to beat in the 2000 metre 0-58 handicap after his luckless run at Donald last Saturday,” he said.
Casterton cup day will not seem the same without jockey Dean Yendall plying his trade.
The Horsham based hoop has always been popular with punters, especially at Casterton where racing fans could almost certainly rely on him riding at least one winner when in the saddle.
Yendall has been out of action since December when he fractured his C2 and C3 vertebrae in a fall in the concluding stages of a race at Terang.
It seems it will be a while – perhaps another three months – before we see him riding again at racecourses all around Victoria.
“I was very lucky to avoid surgery but I had to wear a neck brace for three months and, believe me, there was no fun in that,” Yendall explained.
“I’ll be guided by my doctors before coming back.
“My fitness is improving slowly but I’ve got to rebuild the muscles in my neck before I start riding again.
HARNESS RACING SEASON OVER
MOUNT Gambier harness racing officials have pulled the pin on the remaining four meetings scheduled for the Greenwald Paceway in May and June.
Lack of horse numbers to make up a full meeting is the reason and it is anticipated racing will resume in late October following the Mount Gambier show.
At Horsham last Monday, the Mount Gambier owned and Greg Scholefield (Naracoorte) trained Don’t Need An Excuse gave his backers who took the short odds ($1.65) no need for alarm with an all-the-way win in the NR 61-72 pace.
His mile rate of 1.55.4 was easily the quickest of the day as the six-year-old gelding chalked up his fourth win from his past eight starts.
CROWTHER ALMOST A GOOD THING
A double to ever improving jockey Kayla Crowther at Naracoorte last Sunday has put her in a very strong position to win her first premiership here in the Limestone Coast.
With six local meetings remaining for the current season, Crowther has booted home 21 winners, five clear of fellow Adelaide jockey Dominic Tourneur and nine in front of Jacob Opperman.
The last female to win the Limestone Coast jockey’s premiership was Emily Finnegan with 28 winners in the 2015-16 racing season.
Opperman is chasing back to back apprentice’s titles and has it all parcelled up as he is six wins clear of Sophie Logan, Ben Price and Angus Chung, all with six wins each.
Jockey Callan Murray rode his first winner in the Limestone Coast at Naracoorte on Sunday since relocating from South Africa last year, and promptly went on to make it a double for the day, both for Murray Bridge trainer Roslyn Day.
Ride of the day went to apprentice Margaret Collett who brought Alsvior ($6.50-$10) from near last and weaved a passage near the rails to salute in the BM 64 handicap.
Jockey Sairyn Fawke quickly found himself in the winner’s stall after his recent stint in Queensland by winning the final event on Mavette.
ALTHOUGH we are into the final quarter of the racing season, we are no closer to finding the premier trainer this season in the Limestone Coast.
The waters are murky to say the least as, for the first time for nearly a decade, the two Sue’s (Murphy and Jaensch) are not dominating and find themselves back in the pack and four wins off the pace.
Tatiara trainer Darryl Dodson clings to the narrowest of leads (12 wins, 5 seconds, 9 thirds) from Bob & Kane Post (11,12,13), Michael O’Leary (11,6,5), and then a gap to Sue & Jason Jaensch (8,9,10), Lee Creek (8,8,6), Peter Hardacre (8,6,5) and Sue Murphy (8,5,8).
Murray Bridge mentor Garret Lynch is having an excellent season and chalked up his sixth winner down here this season when Ready Fora Moet, having her first SA start after transferring from NSW, won the opening event at Naracoorte on Sunday.
It was a late pick up ride for Kayla Crowther (replacing Lachlan Niendorf) and some very good bets were landed as the mare was backed from $21 into second favourite at $4.20.
There were some happy local owners after the BM 66 handicap when track specialist Rohlon Drunk ($10-$7.50) resumed from a four-month spell to win his 11th career race.
The Jamie Opperman trained and Jacob Opperman ridden gelding has won five races from 11 races at Naracoorte and his record there over 1200 metres is excellent (two wins and a third from three starts).
Local trainer Richard Wilson put Eagles Forever in the deep end by stepping up from 1400 metres at his previous start to 2000 metres in the BM 66 handicap.
After an easy run in front, Eagles Forever ($-$7) just had enough in hand to hold off the 12-year-old gelding Flow Meter who was having 194th start.
At Gawler on Wednesday, Jacob Opperman was again in the winner’s stall after piloting the emergency runner Hateech, trained at Oakbank by Claudette Rose, to a half length victory in the 1100 metre BM 58 handicap.
BIG MONTH FOR MILLICENT
MAY is the month when the Millicent racing club comes into its own with its annual race meeting at the end of the month here at Mount Gambier (Sunday, May 29)
One of its fundraisers is the 600 club which is mainly for business houses who go in the draw to win the rights to sponsor two races on Millicent cup day.
It was held recently at the Millicent football club where the winners were Sapiatzer Excavations and the Somerset Hotel while the “emergency” is the Shearer’s Cook Cafe, should an extra race be added to the meeting.
The Millicent cup calcutta will be conducted on Friday, May 27 at the Somerset Hotel from 7pm.
It will be only the second time the Millicent Racing Club has raced at Mount Gambier in the past 40 years.
Sunday, May 15: Casterton gallops (cup day).
Wednesday, May 18: Mount Gambier gallops.