Party air heralds Emerald meeting

EMERALD Jockey Club (EJC) president Leon Roberts expects record figures all round when final receipts are tallied after Saturday's exceptional Emerald “100” race meeting at the fast-growing Central Queensland township.

However, it is known that a colourful crowd of just over 4000 racegoers packed Pioneer Park racecourse which was “party-dressed” for the occasion with hospitality marquees running almost the length of the straight to host 800 people.

The turf track was presented in first-class order, so much so that Royal Chariot, the winner of the $15,000 Emerald “100” (1850m), shattered the course record posting a new standard of 1minute 55.32 seconds.

Royal Chariot (ch g 8 Chariot - Alyroi), ridden patiently by Blackall-based David Rewald, swooped down the outside to snatch victory from courageous La Piazza (Matt Cant, $8.00) and win by a half-length.

Darryl Hansen-trained Starry Dancer (John Stephens, $4.60) ridden cleverly swept around the field to take up the running at the 500 metres and the ride deserved a better fate than finishing 1.25 lengths back third.

Stablemate and $2.50 favourite Role of Ned (Ashley Butler) was never going to be suited by the short Pioneer Park straight and he was running on strongly at the end from a rearward position to finish fourth.

It wasn't all bad news for Hansen, as earlier in the afternoon his Onalar (Christian Reith, $5.00) had won the $45,000 Open Handicap (2100m) at Eagle Farm.

For absent Blackall trainer Charlie Prow, the win by Royal Chariot ($9.00) was just another scalp in his illustrious career as firstly a jockey and then a trainer.

Prow, of course, is best remembered as the trainer of Miss Petty, who equalled an Australian record by winning 22 consecutive races in country Queensland between 1986 and 1989.

A former Northern Rivers of New South Wales stayer, Royal Chariot has now won at Barcaldine (2), Muttaburra and Emerald under Prow's tutorage since joining his stable earlier this year.

However, the Emerald “100” was the first time Prow has been able to race him over further than a mile, which Royal Chariot appreciated, as he has won five times at nine attempts at middle-distance racing.

Roma trainer Craig Smith, who supervises a stable of 25 horses, enjoyed his Emerald sojourn by providing the quinella in the $10,000 Hot FM/CQ News Newmarket (1200m) as well as scoring with Clinto Khan (Rowan Cox, $3.80) in the Class 2 (1300m).

Cox brought up his 21st win by producing $9.00 chance Scuderia (br g 6 Testa Roasa-Centlee) with a well-timed run to stall off stablemate Degenda (Jemma Daley, $6.00) to win the feature sprint by a short-head.

In a thrilling finish, tear-away leader Stoutfast (Mark Barnham, $13.00) was only a neck away third.

“It is a good race to bring up my 21st winner,” said Cox, who has only been race riding for 12 months said.

However, Cox's rails-hugging winning ride on Clinto Khan would have done Damian Oliver proud.

He persisted in waiting for a rails run on Clinto Khan from fourth place on the turn and demonstrated nous when the Kanoot-Aleysa Field gelding seemed uncomfortable in fully testing the run.

“I just kept urging him, balancing him and trying to get him going. I kicked very hard near the line and he just kicked-in at the right time”, Cox said.

Clangalang mare, the oddly named Neranagatang (David Rewald, $1.70) got punters and a group of EJC committee persons off to a good start by winning the $10,000 QTIS Maiden (1000m).

The group included club president Leon Roberts, vice-president Graham Campbell, treasurer Alastair Mace, trainer Ron Higginbotham. David Day, Don Wilson and Peter Gallagher bought Nerangatang from Gold Coast trainer Mel Eggelston after she finished second at the Sunshine Coast on September 27.

“The race-caller Steve Hawkins told me she was for sale. Ron was after a horse and after watching her on SKY run second on September 27, he bought her and syndicated her. We were so busy on Saturday when the crowd partied on at the racecourse until after the band finished at 9.30pm, that we didn't get time to celebrate,” Roberts said yesterday.

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