From the Newsroom

Two-year-old filly Mother Joy, trained in Coffs Harbour by Paul Smith, saluted in the first race at Grafton for 2022 on January 23. Image: Emma Pritchard

Racing underway for 2022 in Grafton

Emma Pritchard

More than 360 racegoers were trackside for the Clarence River Jockey Club’s (CRJC) first race meeting of 2022 on January 23, the SMEC Australia Race Day.
Despite scattered showers throughout the Clarence Valley, the sky over Grafton remained relatively clear as 88 horses were accepted across the eight-race program.

With the track rated a Soft 5 following recent wet weather and the rail in the true position, punters flicked through their form guides in search of runners with proven wet track form as they watched for price fluctuations between the TAB and bookies.

Trained in Coffs Harbour by Paul Smith, promising filly Mother Joy took out Race 1, Watley Hounds 2YO Handicap over 1000m.

The only horse in the field of nine with race experience, Mother Joy started at 7/1 and settled midfield for jockey Jon Grisedale before surging clear inside the final 100m to win by just under a length from the well-backed favourite Calamity Fox and the locally trained galloper Durnstein.

Go Ferrando leads the field up the home straight for the first time in Race 3, Dougnut Terriers Benchmark 58 Handicap over 2200m. The race was won by Armidale galloper Kilmarnock at 60/1.

Grisedale was complimentary of the track condition during his post-race interview, noting the surface had “the sting out of the ground” and was racing well.

After the well-tried Rexx saluted in Race 2, Return to Racing Handicap over 1000m, it was the bookies turn to celebrate as the Lea Selby trained Kilmarnock claimed its first victory in almost a year when the nine-year-old son of Husson (ARG) drew alongside early leader Go Ferrando in the home straight to win Race 3, Dougnut Terriers Benchmark 58 Handicap over a staying trip of 2200m.

Specked at odds of 70/1 earlier in the day, Kilmarnock paid $61 on the TAB with race caller Terry Spargo acknowledging the fortunate punters who had selected the roughie in their tips.

Visiting racegoer Helen Harvey from Port Macquarie revealed she almost bet on Kilmarnock to win before changing her mind when she noted the horses recent poor form.

“I was going to have a flutter on it, but then I changed my mind, so it serves me right,” she said with a laugh.

Experienced race caller Terry Spargo closely follows the field in Race 7, Newhaven Park Country Championships Coffs Harbour February 12 – Class 4 Handicap over 1175m. The race was won by classy galloper Parksville. Image: Emma Pritchard

2021 Grafton Cup winning trainer Michael Costa gave punters a reason to cheer again when his promising first starter Husson’s Revenge won Race 4, SMEC Roadways and Highways Maiden Plate over 1100m at 3/1.

Given a positive ride by experienced hoop Andrew Mallyon, Husson’s Revenge sat behind the speed before the three-year-old gelding powered to the line to deny the David Matts trained mare Continuum her first victory at start number 28.

Other winners included Preghero, Kapsali, Parksville and Kingstar Bullet.

While she didn’t back any of them, Ms Harvey said she was content to finish the day with “a few minor placings.”

The next race meeting will be held on February 1.