Can the PM help our stars?
By GREG WHITE
EVEN the Prime Minister has been asked for help - so if Natural Destiny and Takeover Target don't make it to Flemington for the Spring Racing Carnival it won't be from lack of effort by their trainers.
Despite being vaccinated against Equine Influenza in Coffs Harbour at 9am yesterday, October 2nd the date is important - Victoria's Department of Primary Industries insist the two great horses serve a four-week quarantine period before crossing the border.
While this rules them out of the Caulfield and Moonee Valley racing dates, Yorke believes he and fellow trainer Joe Janiak have plenty of time to prepare for their main target, the G1 Seppelts Salinger Stakes on November 3rd, Victoria Derby day.
"I sent an e-mail to Mr Howard asking if a Hercules was flying past on its way to Melbourne they drop into the airport and pick up the horses to do a mercy dash," Yorke quipped, half laughing and half deadly serious.
"You've got to try everything in this job, even do some lateral thinking.
"I wrote to the PM that if the Light Horse was needed in Iraq those air force blokes standing around at Richmond could come up here and get some practical hands-on experience."
All jokes aside, Yorke believes his grey up-and-comer and Janiak's world champion will have enough race fitness to be competitive one month from today, providing they can get to the starting gate.
"I'm not stressing out as a lot can change in a day," Yorke said.
"After all, D-Day was just one day but it turned a whole war around.
"Everything hinges on knowing for certain if the Victorians are serious about wanting us to race and not missing any opportunity to make it happen.
"That's why I sent the e-mail to the bloke in Canberra."
Yorke said the Coffs racing complex had been sheltered from the EI disaster and believes the industry can thank CEO Russ Atkinson for his leadership during the crisis.
"We'll all go on record saying this new bloke has worked tirelessly in recent weeks on our behalf," he said.
"Russ deserves to get some praise while he can because we'll just as quickly jump on his back if something happens we don't like.
"But with everyone pulling together the racecourse has become a prototype of how to handle a crisis like this and eventually, we'll get through."
He also believes repeating the success of last weeks race meeting could be a way out of the current predicament, with punters starved of meetings to bet on.
"The only way the virus can get in is if somebody does something stupid by being forgetful," Yorke added.
"If we stay clear Coffs Harbour could race every fortnight for months just using local horses.
"Up to five or six horses had to be balloted out of a few races last week and we still had capacity fields.
"Racing NSW and the TAB could be putting a package together to take advantage of that."
Just as Yorke and friend Janiak will take advantage of any reasonable offer made by the Prime Minister.
"If he can organise a lift to Melbourne he'll make people happy," he laughed.
"At this time of year there would have to be a few votes in it."