Racing legends kick off Emerald’s first race day
RACING in the Central Highlands kicks off Saturday at Pioneer Park in Emerald.
It will chime in nicely with Friday's calcutta in the members' bar at Pioneer Park and the gala dinner at Emerald town hall Saturday night with the second annual On the Bit Queensland Country Racing Awards night kicking off at 6.30pm.
A total of 15 awards will be presented on the night, including the 'On The Bit' Queensland Country Trainer, Horse and Jockey of the Year Awards.
Guests at Saturday's Pioneer Park meeting will include Peter Moody, the trainer of the legendary Black Caviar.
Moody will be at Pioneer Park tonight at the jockey club's On the Bit weight for age calcutta and will also be a guest speaker during the Queensland Country Racing Awards night gala dinner tomorrow night.
Before his break from racing, Moody was regarded as one of Australia's best horse conditioners and is better known as the trainer of arguably the world's greatest ever sprinter, Black Caviar.
Moody has recently announced he will resume training after a three-year hiatus.
Other special guests throughout the weekend will include former test cricketer and On the Bit ambassador Andy Bichel and Queensland's number one racecaller Barcy boy, Josh Fleming Pam O'Neill, Australia's first woman licenced as a jockey, renowned Australian poet Rupert McCall and 4TAB radio identity Tony Clements will again be on deck again.
On The Bit is an online Facebook page that continues to grow from strength to strength under the direction of creator Matty Peters.
His number one goal has always been to highlight the efforts of country clubs, trainers, owners and jockeys, particularly on the non-TAB country circuit.
The page regularly gets important racing information to participants and fans.
The live streams of country non-TAB race days has added another dimension for owners who can't make it to the non-TAB venue.
On the Bit also provides race day video previews for upcoming racing events for trainers, owners, jockeys and on-course punters which, until On the Bit's inception, was a matter of word of mouth of results and waiting until late into the evening for Racing Australian website to post country non-TAB venues race day results.
Queensland Racing CEO Brendan Parnell will be at Saturday's dinner and races.
Earlier this week he said Racing Queensland was proud to again be the major sponsor of the country racing awards night and to support and promote the On The Bit platform, which has taken the level interest in country racing to great heights.
Parnell said country racing participation was critical to the ongoing success of the Queensland thoroughbred industry as a whole.
On the Bit was established by passionate country racing supporter and local Emerald Jockey manager Matt Peters, with the help of Central West race caller's Andrew Watt's and 'Bush Beat's' Rob Luck.
Together with Gladstone Race Club stalwarts David and Judy Weinert, this group have pioneered and taken the full race day coverage experience of country racing to the next level via the On the Bit Facebook platform.
Some weeks the page has up to 35,000 views and more than 4000 followers.
Saturday the five-race program kicks off at noon, with high quality fields being the order of the day.
A big contingency of jockeys will be on hand, which is a rarity in country racing, with the availability of jockeys at country meetings being the Achilles heel of many country meetings in regional and country Queensland.
Emerald Jockey Club president Mary Bulger was gobsmacked by the larger than normal field sizes with visiting trainers attending the awards night and horses coming from all parts of country Queensland.
"Saturday's meeting at Pioneer Park will draw a big crowd with the country awards night to follow after the last race," Bulger said.
The weekend is a great shot in the arm for racing in the Highlands and for the Emerald Jockey Club.
The feature event, the $10,000 On the Bit weight for age sprint over 1000 metres, has drawn together a hot field, including Emerald galloper the Raymond Williams trained Shigeru Mahogany, who looks very well placed under the weight for age scale of the event.
Shigeru Mahogany put away a red hot field last start at Callaghan Park in Rockhampton and looks the one to beat.
Williams is in a rich vein of form, has saddled three winners from his last four runners and is fresh off a big win with his veteran speedster Bootshaker at Bundaberg last Saturday over 850 metres.
Premier country Queensland trainer Bevan Johnson lines up as the main danger with his war horse Blu Jest, who is extremely well placed under the weight for age conditions.
Blue Jest is backing up from last weekend, plenty of good judges tell me his run behind Bootshaker at Bundaberg was enormous and will give the event a strong shake.
Glenda Bell lines up with a two prong attack with Four Excel and her track specialist Mono Lad who is extremely hard to beat at Pioneer Park.