IN WHAT is shaping as a very busy week for the Rockhampton Jockey Club, the traditional Melbourne Cup race day will be celebrated at Callaghan Park racecourse today.

As well as competing for "horse numbers" from a host of recent meetings at nearby race clubs, the RJC will also stage a TAB race meeting this Friday.

It wasn't all that long ago that attending a race meeting on the first Tuesday in November was a must but times have changed.

Competition from the clubs and pubs circuit has somewhat eroded the crowds attending race meetings on this special day but regardless sizeable gatherings trackside are still the norm. That is expected to be the case at Callaghan Park where the RJC reports Cup Day luncheons and parties have attracted considerable interest and bookings are extensive.

A five race local program comprising 40 horses will do the rounds this afternoon.

The meeting will start at 1.50pm, allowing jockeys to get back from having ridden at today's Gladstone Turf Club's morning race meeting. The opening race, the Maiden (970m) for males presents punters with a dilemma.

With four placings from nine starts, Clinton Garland trained Vatican's Star (Adrian Coome) presents with the best form in a lack lustre affair. The second race, the female division for the same class and run over the same short course, isn't much better on the form scene.

The best three chances loom as Tim Cook's Asha The Smasha, Gus Philpot's Pure Poetry and Clinton Thompson's If Only They Knew. Injured trainer John O'Sing's Endless Tower may provide him with a much needed tonic by taking out the BM 60 (1600m), the third Callaghan Park race.

Although burdened with 59.5kg which even allows for apprentice Alexandra Kitson's 2kg allowance, Endless Tower looks a standout in the field.

This afternoon's feature race, the BM 70 (1050m) listed as race four at 3.50pm looks a puzzling affair with chances galore.

Considering the Tom Button stable has been to the fore of late with a bevy of winners, his representative Ballroom Dance looks capable of extending the trot.

Premier jockey Adrian Coome should be able to have Ballrooom Dance tucked in behind likely leaders and main rivals Security Sam and Trusty Grey throughout.

The race looks to be at the mercy of that trio.

The Allen Albert trained catchy named Hip Shake Bang looks as good a winning prospect as any of his 10 rivals in the last of the local races at 4.30pm.



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