Jockey Ben Looker took the finish line on New Zealand horse Sacred Dane to win this year’s Grafton Cup on Thursday. Sopressa took out second place to Vaucluse Bay in third.

July Racing Carnival wraps up

Lynne Mowbray |

With the 2019 July Racing Carnival coming to an end on Sunday with the running of the Maclean Bowling Club’s Maclean Cup, Clarence River Jockey Club (CRJC) executive officer Michael Beattie said that he was pretty happy with how this year’s carnival went.

“I think it’s been a very successful carnival,” Mr Beattie said.

“We conducted 41 races throughout the carnival, which is the most that we’ve run for many, many years.

“The crowds were down very marginally on last year, but are equal to our crowds in 2017. We think that’s a tremendous effort and it shows that the people are extremely happy with the move of Westlawn Day, that they continue to support the carnival.

“We’ve had a lot of runners and the betting figures are on a par with last year. “It’s really hard to look at any of the KPI’s (key performance indicators) and form the view that you’d be unhappy with anything that happened.

“The Jockey of the Carnival went to Matthew McGuren who had a fantastic carnival. He rode winners I think on every day and you couldn’t have asked for a better result really, than having a local boy as the most successful rider through the carnival,” he said.

When asked about the quality of the horses and stables represented this year, Mr Beattie said that once again it was certainly on a par with any other year.

“We had one of the leading stables in Victoria in Ciaron Maher (Racing Stables), have a runner in the (Grafton) Cup.

“We had one of the leading stables in Sydney in James Cumming and Godolphin, support the carnival.

“We had one of the leading trainers from New Zealand in Tony Pike support the carnival and we had all the leading country trainers in NSW support the carnival, so again you couldn’t look at the statistics and be disappointed,” he said.

Mr Beattie said that he didn’t have any doubt that Tony Pike will be back, after the New Zealand horse Sacred Day took out this year’s Grafton Cup from the Ciaron Maher & David Eustace horse Sopressa. 

“Tony didn’t get here by accident,” said Mr Beattie.

“We spent some time speaking to him in New Zealand towards the end of last year and discussed the carnival and the sort of horse that he should bring and fortunately for us Tony found a suitable horse and got away with the peak end of the prize money.

“With the prize money increases and funding changes that have already been announced by Racing NSW for next year, I think the carnival is only on the up and will continue to be considered the major country carnival in NSW,” he said.

An elated Ben Looker after winning this year’s Grafton Cup on Sacred Day (NZ).
Sacred Day’s trainer Tony Pike addresses the crowd at the official Grafton Cup presentation on Thursday.
Jockey Matthew McGuren talks to owner/trainer Jim Jarvis at the conclusion of the Maclean Cup on Sunday.
The official presentation of the 2019 Maclean Bowling Club, Maclean Cup.