Emerald 100 heating up
IT'S 100 Day Pioneer Park tomorrow and the big five-race card is sure to draw a mammoth crowd to witness the 52nd running of the time-honoured event.
Emerald Jockey Club president Leon Roberts is expecting a massive crowd at the Emerald 100 after near-record bookings in marquees and pre-sold general admissions.
Horses, trainers and jockeys are coming from all parts of country Queensland - Mackay, Rockhampton, Longreach, Barcaldine, Roma - and, of course, locally trained Central Highlands gallopers who are represented strongly by Glenda Bell, Trevor Williams, Tracey Leake, Ross Meek, Bluff's Ross Vagg and Clermont's Jenny Bell.
The day will not be short on class, with a number of well-performed provincial horses and a couple of up-and-comers on show.
The long-thought theory of horses for courses could be a significant factor for Emerald trainers Bell and Meek in the benchmark 65 handicap over 1200m, when Bell lines up with a three- prong assault tomorrow with a trio of runners from her Emerald stables.
Facing off against one another, all three have been successful on the Pioneer Park track.
Mono Lad, raced by Bluff graziers Val and Ron Beak, is Bell's marginal on top selection of her three runners. She said she really liked the way Mono Lad hit the line strongly last start at Clermont and was nearing peak fitness.
The other three runners include veteran galloper Ossenhagen and last season's Capricornia horse of the year Fidereus.
Fidereus is my personal on top selection of the Bell runners, with Les "Bubba” Tilley in the saddle.
The biggest danger to the Bell trio comes in the form of visiting trainer Mark Oates, who regularly treks over the Drummond range and does not often go home empty- handed with Valfierno.
The Longreach trainer will have his new stable addition primed for the event and looks hard to beat.
The other local to watch is Meek's Bound for Me, who is racing in career-best form, winning two races from the gelding's last three starts at Rockhampton.
The feature event - the $15,000 Emerald 100, which is a qualifying heat for the $70,000 Country Cups Challenge at Doomben on December 2 - has drawn together a solid field to battle it out for a spot in the final along with the coveted Emerald 100 trophy.
Barcaldine galloper Hunter Island, who ran a close second in the 2017 edition, has been well found by the handicapper with a hefty impost of 59kg to carry but with in-form jockey Luke Dillon in the saddle.
Hunter Island took out last month's Longreach Cup and is assured of a place in the Country Cups final.
John Manzelmann's runner The Greatest, who lays claim to being the most well-bred galloper gracing Central Queensland racetracks at the moment, is bred to run out the 1850m and will carry a luxury weight of only 53kg with boom Barcaldine apprentice Alisha Ross in the saddle.
Gates open at 11am and don't forget tonight's Emerald 100 Calcutta at Emerald Jockey Club members' bar at 6pm, which will include special guests including Melbourne Cup- winning jockey John Letts.