2023 XXXX July Racing Carnival gallops into action

Emma Pritchard


Over 900 racegoers headed trackside on July 2 for the Kensei Club Community Race Day as the Clarence River Jockey Club (CRJC) celebrated the commencement of their highly anticipated 2023 XXXX July Racing Carnival.

With the rail out 4.5m throughout the entire circuit and the track rated a Soft 5, 85 thoroughbreds competed across the seven-race program, with a number of connections hopeful of qualifying their contenders for upcoming feature events during the carnival including the Ramornie Handicap and Grafton Cup.

Punters enjoyed a favourable start to the day when the well backed Volcanic Love recorded a smart win on debut in Race 1, the Southside Pharmacy 2YO Springboard Prelude Maiden Plate over 1015m.

Trained on the track by Scott Henley, who described Volcanic Love as “a horse going places” in a pre-race interview, the two-year-old son of Kermadec (NZ) was purchased through the 2022 Magic Millions Online Sale by the stable for the same price as a packet of smokes.

“He wasn’t all that expensive,” Henley said with a chuckle.

“But he’s a good horse.

“When he levels out, he lengthens with no effort, and I reckon he’s a star in the making.”

Winning jockey Anthony Allen, who did his apprenticeship with Grafton trainer John Shelton, was also full of praise for Volcanic Love following the race.

“He’s a super horse, and he’s doing everything right,” he said, adding he was extremely pleased with how Volcanic Love handled his first race experience.

“He hit the line really well, and he’s definitely a horse that’s going places.”

While punters flicked through their form guides in search of further winners, other racegoers enjoyed the ambience of the first day of the 2023 XXXX July Racing Carnival.

Coffs Harbour visitors Leon Wyatt and Brianna Murrell told the Clarence Valley Independent they always look forward to coming to Grafton in July.

“We’ve been to about five or six carnivals in the past, and we’ve always had a great time,” Ms Murrell said.

“This year we brought our kids along, now that they’re a bit older, and they’ve been having fun playing and participating in all the free activities.

“They’ve already told us they want to come back to the carnival next year.”

CRJC CEO Michael Beattie said he was pleased the Kensei Club Community Race Day had ensured the carnival was off to a successful start, while race caller Terry Spargo is looking forward to calling the feature races during the next week.