Drawing special horses and guests to Grafton

Emma Pritchard


A large crowd of close to 200 guests including Clarence River Jockey Club (CRJC) personnel, visiting trainers and jockeys, stable representatives, owners, and punters, attended the 2023 XXXX July Racing Carnival Barrier Draw Luncheon at the Grafton District Services Club (GDSC) on July 10, with many participants hopeful of securing favourable gates for their respective thoroughbreds in the 2023 GDSC Ramornie Handicap and 2023 Westlawn Finance Grafton Cup.

Featuring a strong field of 16 starters including one emergency, the 2023 GDSC Ramornie Handicap barrier draw was the first to commence.

Defending champion Ranges, trained by powerhouse duo Peter and Paul Snowden drew favourably and will start from barrier five, while the topweight and well fancied contender Far Too Easy will have anything but an easy task ahead of him in the feature event after the four-year-old son of All Too Hard was assigned barrier 16.

Local hope Tara Jasmine, trained on the track by John Shelton, also drew out wide and will begin from barrier 12 for Mikayla Weir, while talented Queensland sprinter and current race favourite Deepour will jump from barrier 11.

After qualifying for the feature sprint of the 2023 XXXX July Racing Carnival off the back of a strong win in the John Carlton Cup on July 2, the Lou Mary trained mare Proverbial has given the traditional visitor’s draw and will jump from barrier 15 for jockey Jake Bayliss.

The first and only emergency Magic In Me will start from barrier three after the Tony Ball trained galloper Standing Bear was scratched following the barrier draw.

The 2023 GDSC Ramornie Handicap will be run on July 12.

A quality field of 15 stayers will contest the 2023 Westlawn Finance Grafton Cup to be run on July 13.

Backing up impressive wins in the McKell Cup and Caloundra Cup within the past month, four-year-old Zoustar gelding Zoumon, prepared by previous Grafton Cup winning trainer Gai Waterhouse in partnership with Adrian Bott, drew perfectly in barrier two and immediately firmed in the betting following.

Prominent Sydney trainer Annabel Neasham will be well represented in the feature staying event with three of her gallopers accepting in the final field.

English bred stayer Spirit Ridge (GB) will jump from barrier 12, Regal Lion (NZ) will start from barrier eight, and Bellaciaociao (FR) drew close to the rail and will begin from barrier three.

And while he is yet to add the Grafton Cup to his already overflowing trophy cabinet, champion trainer Chris Waller will be hoping either Irish Sequel (IRE) or Shameless Miss (NZ) can deliver him his first win in the premier staying event after they drew barriers nine and 10.

The 2023 Westlawn Finance Grafton Cup will be run on July 13.

Following the barrier draws, guest speakers including Group 1 winning jockey Noel Callow and prominent country trainer John Wallace shared their stories and experiences of the racing industry with attendees.

Described by renowned racing journalist and MC Chris Scholtz as one of the most colourful characters in racing, Callow spoke of his passion for the sport and his pride in seeing his daughter Stacey Callow establish her own career as a jockey.

As he reflected on some of his most memorable moments as a trainer, including overseeing the early career of Group 1 winner Shootout, Wallace told the crowd he felt incredibly proud of his achievements.

While he will not have a runner during the 2023 XXXX July Racing Carnival, Wallace credited the CRJC for hosting the event, describing it as a great country racing carnival.