Dan and Rae Fletcher at Mooney valley with their super filly Sunlight in front of Winx statue made from beer cans.
Dan and Rae Fletcher at Mooney valley with their super filly Sunlight in front of Winx statue made from beer cans. Contributed

Our Sunlight is back on the track this weekend

EMERALD'S Rae Fletcher and some family and friends ventured to the bright lights of Melbourne for the spring carnival last weekend to see their Tony McEvoy trained wonder filly Sunlight on the biggest stage of them all, the Group 1 Manikato stakes.

The filly started a well supported $4.40 favourite in the $1million contest with light weight Tim Clark in the saddle deputising for regular rider Luke Currie who could not make the weight of 51kg.

Sunlight was slowly away and subsequently impeded and boxed in for the majority of the race. She was ultimately an eye catcher when finally seeing clear air late, finishing midfield some 3.25 lengths away from the Darren Weir trained winner Brave smash.

Post-race, a disconsolate trainer Tony McEvoy bemoaned the fact his filly had done more in her pre-race gallop than she was allowed to do on the night and therefore team Fletcher have elected to back her up and run her at tomorrow's Victoria Derby Day meeting at Flemington.

The $1million Group One Coolmore Stud Stakes, which will see Sunlight the winner of seven of her 11 starts, back against her own age albeit against a cracking field of mostly colts.

Fletcher said the stable has reported Sunlight had come through amazingly well.

"It's another massive race where the best of the best have assembled so it's hard to be confident,” she said.

"What we do know is she won't give up. She's such a fighter.”

Rae and family will again travel down for tomorrow's race and in a remarkable story they are staying through to Melbourne Cup Day on Tuesday where they are set to see the debut of Sunlight's full sister the aptly named SISSTAR.

Looking every bit a ready-made runner Sisstar, although smaller than the imposing Sunlight, appears to possess much of her older sibling's talent having won two barrier trials impressively.

Sunlight has drawn Barrier 7 with Luke Currie back on board and is a $4.60 chance for the Coolmore Stud Stakes behind the favourite Written By $4.20 and $4.40 second elect Zousain.

Melbourne Cup day

Strike action potentially at all Tab and non Tab meetings in Queensland have been averted with the state government agreeing to provide $26m in extra prizemoney to the thoroughbred industry coming from the government new point of consumption tax, which is expected to inject $70m into government coffers in its first year and the Queensland thoroughbred industry had been lobbying for a decent slice cut of the windfall.

All Tab meetings in Queensland last Saturday on Cox Plate were abandoned due to strike action.

The new deal means strike action on Melbourne Cup day will not proceed and meetings in Queensland will go ahead as scheduled.

Prizemoney increases will be delivered in two stages with an immediate $18m increase effective November 1 and a further $8m increase in six months. The prizemoney allocation includes an introduction of a showcase $19,000 race at all Central Queensland Provincial Tab meetings and central Queensland paricipants getting an increase in prizemoney per race from $14,000 to $16,500 an increase of 17.8% and the introduction of prize money for fifth-placed runners as well as payment for unplaced horses from 6th to 10th placing of $400 in Rockhampton and Mackay.

Former Emerald boy Tom Button and now premier Rockhampton trainer said the government initiative to pay down to tenth placing will be a great shot in the arm for Central Queensland Racing with owners having more funds coming in which in turn will mean more horses.

Capricorn Racing chairman Leon Roberts said the returns would provide a significant boost to cash flow he also stated he was awaiting the stance of Racing minister Stirling Hinchcliffes morning on his comments that the amount of non Tab meeting would be ratified with potentially Pioneer Park in Emerald running meetings being televised on sky channel and the Tab betting on them.

- Richard Turnbull

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