Cessnock champion jockey Robert Thompson took his career tally of winners to 4301 when he landed a treble on his home track on Monday. It was the inaugural Newcastle Men of League race day and the Hall of Fame jockey was popular with punters as his trio of winners were heavily backed.
The IGA Liquor Class 1 & Maiden Plate (2125m) kicked off the day and Thompson’s mount Irish Duke was the $3.50 second favourite. The Central Coast stayer trained by Adam Duggan had only been successful in one of his twenty-six starts. Irish Duke raced outside the leader before racing away to win by 1¾ lengths.
Thompson completed an early double when he had an armchair ride on $1.30 favourite Latin Light in race 2 the B&B Total Supply Maiden Plate (1570m). The lightly raced four-year-old put the writing on the wall with two good recent placings at Tuncurry and Muswellbrook. Trainer Jason Deamer booked Thompson for the ride after Christian Reith was indisposed on race morning.
Cessnock mare Stylish Charlene, unplaced in all seven previous starts caused a boil over in race 3 the Cessnock Rugby League Old Boys Maiden (1350m). The Brian Walker trained four-year-old was a $31 chance and she ran down the $1.18 favourite Saint Denis to win by a short neck.
Hawkesbury jockey Grant Buckley continued his successful start to the 2017/2018 season when he piloted Wyong mare Hammoon Bridge to victory in the Cessnock Leagues Club Handicap (900m). She had not raced for four months but trainer Jeff Englebrecht set her for a first-up win and the mare finished strongly.
Wyong mare Island Grange landed a plunge for trainer Les Tilley and Thompson in the Jungle Juice Cup October 13 Maiden (1150m). Backed from $4.60 to $2.90, Island Grange was challenging the $2.45 favourite Rubel half way down the straight when the leader shied and bounced off the running rail potentially costing Rubel victory. Island Grange went on to win by 1½ lengths.
Former top jockey Stephen Schofield and Chris O’Brien combined to win the Men of League Handicap (1570m) with the consistent Prince Roo. The latter was the $3.70 favourite and he led throughout to beat Triple Hero by a short-half head.
Central Coast trained gallopers dominated the seven-race program and the former Victorian mare Niccorama made it five winners for the region when successful in the East Cessnock Bowling Club Handicap (1150m). Ridden to perfection by Jeff Penza, Niccorama in her first start for Angela Davies proved to be superior in a driving finish.