It was a memorable day for the Clarence River Jockey Club (CRJC), a favourable day for punters and a day to forget for the bookies as more than 2500 racing enthusiasts scanned their QR codes and were welcomed trackside on July 8 for the 2021 Maclean Hotel Grafton Cup race meeting.
Boasting one of the largest crowds of the 2021 July Racing Carnival and with 100 thoroughbreds competing across an eight-race program, the ambience of the occasion was felt across the track as attendees took advantage of the winter sunshine and enjoyed a socially distanced day at the races.
Taree trainer Tony Ball ensured punters had a successful start to the day when his four-year-old gelding Standing Bear powered home in Race 1, the Feed ‘N’ Go Benchmark 66 Showcase Handicap over 1000m.
After opening in the market at the odds of 8/1, Standing Bear firmed considerably and by the time the barriers flew open, the son of Smart Missile was the 2/1 favourite.
And he didn’t disappoint.
It was another Taree trained galloper, this time from the Ross Stitt stable, who upheld the good fortune of the punters in Race 2, the Hanks Kitchen Class 1 Showcase Handicap over 1400m.
Given a positive ride by Ashley Morgan, Four Egos jumped cleanly and drew away from the field inside the final furlong to win by just over a length at the odds of 5/1.
Despite the recent wet weather during the lead up to the 2021 July Racing Carnival, jockeys praised the track condition and the racing surface which was rated a Soft 5 prior to being upgraded to a Good 4 following the running of Race 4, the NBN Springboard To Fame 2YO Showcase Plate.
Run over 1200m, the event attracted a quality field of 14 colts and fillies and was won by a promising galloper described by race caller Terry Spargo as a horse with a big future.
As his name suggests, Far Too Easy made the win look far too easy as the two-year-old gelding gave his rivals a galloping lesson and charged home to win by close to four lengths.
“He’s a pretty good horse, and I’m pleased he’s in my stables,” Murwillumbah trainer David McColm announced happily following the race.
The bookies finally kept some money in their bags following The Drake’s victory in Race 6, the Village Green Hotel Country Magic Association Class 6 Showcase Plate over 1175m, with the Jenny Graham trained gelding paying more than $12 for the win.
But when race favourite Purrfect Deal won the feature event of the day, the 2021 Maclean Hotel Grafton Cup 40 minutes later, it was the punters turn to smile again, and they went home the clear winners on the day.