The Cessnock Racecourse will host two race meetings during July, the first of which will be held next Monday July 16. It is free admission to enjoy racing on one of the state’s most popular country racetracks. With the likes of Robert Thompson, Grant Buckley, Jeff Penza, Andrew Gibbons, Aaron Bullock and Chad Lever in action, the racing is very competitive.
Newcastle Jockey Club CEO Matt Benson floated the idea of Cessnock becoming a dedicated pre-training centre in the future last year. “That suggestion was put into the mixer during industry consultation last year with Racing NSW and early indications are that it may have some traction. However, we don’t know how that is going to play out until Racing NSW Strategic Plan is released in August. The potential redevelopment would take Cessnock from an underutilised racing facility to something that could be a key industry precinct in a large town with a rich racing history. The position is perfect, and the local support would likely be significant. Pre-training is now a major focus and key activity - it is the ‘industry within the industry’. It’s the lifeblood for a lot of smaller trainers who have their three or five in work but want to have another ten or so in pre-training. There is potentially a huge win-win here – a great outcome for both Cessnock and the racing industry in NSW. We would have to start from scratch at Cessnock as there are only day stalls currently – but this space provides a wonderful blank canvas on a massive chunk of industry-owned land which offers a huge amount of options.” Benson said.
Robert Thompson is in Grafton attempting to win his fifth Ramornie Handicap today. The Hall of Famer won the race twice on The Jackal, and his other winners of the Grafton Carnivals feature sprint have been Youthful Jack and Big Money. The latter rising nine-year-old has not raced since February, however, he won a barrier trial at Muswellbrook last Friday. Big Money won the 2014 Ramornie and finished second in 2016. Thompsons’ winning double at Newcastle on Saturday took his career total to 4355.