IN GLORIOUS weather and attended by a big crowd, last Sunday’s Stony Creek Cup Day was, by general agreement, one of the best Cup Days ever.
The chief executive officer of the Stony Creek Racing Club, Ralph Gallagher, paid tribute to the god of weather, declaring: “She really put her finery on!”
Mr Gallagher said some 2000 people went along to Stony Creek, including many children and family groups. “The children particularly enjoyed our ‘new edition’ Jumping Castle and, of course, Margaret Nelson’s face painting is always a spectacular crowd pleaser – the Sistine Chapel is no competition!”
Mr Gallagher said all the omens were there from the start. “Of course there was the good weather. Then in the first race Bunsen Burner set a blistering pace up the track to take first place.”
Bunsen Burner, said Mr Gallagher, was trained by former jockey Peter Clarke, notable for riding Chesterfield in the 1987 Stony Creek Cup to be one of the three winners of the famed Triple Dead Heat. “So many punters were thinking, ‘Is this the day of the threes? Will Second King win the Stony Creek Cup for the third time in a row? It had never been done before, but would this be the day?”
The running of the cup was unfortunately delayed, owing to a barrier malfunction, but when it got underway it became a typically hard fought test of strength of horse and jockey.
As Mr Gallagher described it: “The course rises from the 800 to the 600 and puts horse and jockey under pressure. Then from almost 400 metres out, the straight provides opportunities to challenge. A real battle broke out between Cosentino and the eventual winner, Ali Vital. Then Second King finished in fourth place behind Altonio.”
Ali Vital was trained by Robbie Laing and ridden by the extremely capable Darren Gauci. The horse was very well backed.
“It was quite remarkable how many people came up to me after the race and said what a marvellous jockey Darren Gauci is,” said Mr Gallagher, who was thrilled to have such a prominent jockey at Stony Creek.
Mr Gallagher paid tribute to all the people who worked together to ensure the success of the day – the people who poured the drinks, serviced the dining room and the snack bar, the barrier attendants, ticket staff, office staff, security, and everyone who contributed to getting the track ready for the big day.
Of course, no Cup Day is complete without Fashions on the Field.
“This year, following what has become a tradition, Fashions on the Field at Stony Creek was generously supported by Judy Stone of ‘Influence on Dusk’ and David Panther of Panther’s Mensland, and others. So much glamour is added to the day by this spectacular event and it is sure to continue for many years,” said Mr Gallagher.
He said the club was also very fortunate in having TAB provide one of their new ‘Trakka’ vans. The Trakka van comes fully equipped with six betting terminals and three ticket operators. This, of course, makes it very easy for a big crowd to lay their bets. The bookmakers were also out in strength at Stony Creek, with some twelve on the course, so there was plenty of opportunity for the full range of punting.
“All in all, the committee should take great pride in the outcome of all their efforts. Last Sunday was surely one of the best race days in the last five years,” concluded Mr Gallagher.
There is one race meeting to go in the Stony Creek season – Sunday, March 30, when all the quality facilities patrons have come to expect will be available once more. A bonus will be the presence of Kelly’s Sports with their great range of activities for children. Mark the date on your calendar now!