Locals number up in hunt for The Hunter


Yes, others see it differently, as I view rugby union: If it’s the game they play in heaven, I’ll be seeking accommodation elsewhere.

Some theorists were decrying the fact that our racing lacks the grace and tranquillity of the English and Irish scene. So true,  but apart from feature events, they race for prizemoney more in line with second-hand chaff bags than what is on offer at Broadmeadow today.

Luskin Star with jockey John Wade and trainer Max Lees.Credit:Archives

Racing hasn’t been a sport in Australia for around 25 years, rather an industry, highlighted in  Melbourne City Council this week when a Greens councillor, Rohan Leppert, introduced a motion calling for the end of the Melbourne Cup Parade through the city streets on the Monday prior to the Big One due to perceived cruelty and gambling concerns.

It received 167 submissions in favour and only three in opposition, but councillors voted 7-3 against the motion and Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp emphasised racing’s necessity to the economy: employing 25,000 people while generating $3.2 billion in economic benefit every year.

Sure, it has problems, including wastage, but they were being confronted before  The Final Race. And there is more action required for abuse of the whip rule, a situation we diehards are being dragged into accepting.

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But Broadmeadow today continues the growth in our state which has never been stronger. Yes, Broadmeadow had a Saturday stand-alone in 2000 because the Olympic Games monopolised Sydney.

Only a $5.5 million handle was estimated by the NSWTAB, but it had $8.5 million for $35,000 races, the minimum prizemoney per event. Apart from the $1 million sprint today, others today range from $75,000 to $160,000, for which Lees and other locals will be making a major play.

Of course Broadmeadow has made the world stage with Choisir, prepared there by Paul Perry. Choisir left his mark on Royal Ascot in 2003 and blazed a trail for Aussie sprinters in the United Kingdom.

Choisir never raced on his home circuit, unlike Beauford, which is regarded as the best horse to come from Broadmeadow.

Beauford triumphed in the Newcastle Shorts, humping 74kg, during his nine-straight winning streak in the 1921-22 season.

No doubt 1977 Golden Slipper winner Luskin Star, trained by Max Lees, father of Kris, was the major headliner from Broadmeadow in modern times.

Max, with other group 1s to his credit, tuned his string mainly from 10 stables adjoining his back yard near the racecourse, and today the Max Lees Classic carries his moniker.

  Jonker will  be out to keep The Hunter cash in Newcastle.

Jonker will be out to keep The Hunter cash in Newcastle.Credit:Jonathan Carroll

I first knew him when he rode as an apprentice jockey for Darby Munro in the late 1950s, and we would never have visualised what was to come.

Kris now trains over 100 horses at his Broadmeadow complex and private training farm, and won  240 races last season.

Perhaps Graff will be the best of his four in The Hunter, but going back to the Max Lees era, Broadmeadow horses usually had an edge on visitors.

Graff, which was a tad disappointing in tougher company, is the horse to beat, but I prefer to gamble on another local, Jonker. Go Jonker, and good onya Russell Balding.

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