Day of destiny for Yorke and his star



AT the Northern Rivers Racing Association premiership awards function held in Lismore last Sunday, Coffs Harbour sprinter Natural Destiny claimed the 2005/6 Horse Of The Year title won in the previous year by another Coffs galloper, Famous Dane.

This afternoon the Gordon Yorke trained Natural Destiny is chasing Group 1 glory in the 1200m Salinger Stakes against some of the hottest sprinters in the land down the 'straight six' at Flemington on VRC Derby Day, hoping to emulate the feat of Takeover Target which already has a Salinger trophy in his collection.

For this afternoon's clash with racing's elite, Natural Destiny has drawn gate 16 from which Glen Boss should be able to take up a spot just off the pace on the flying Coffs grey horse, and hopefully the speed horses drawn near the rails will have to use up some petrol if they come to the outside of the straight course.

Likely favourite Miss Andretti has drawn one inside Natural Destiny and might just drag him into the finish.

Natural Destiny has the imposing career record of seven wins from nine starts and Yorke has meticulously prepared the son of Naturalism for today's clash.

Against the likes of proven Group 1 winners Paratroopers and Dance Hero, as well as up-and-coming stars Fast 'N' Famous and Miss Andretti, Natural Destiny has a massive assignment first-up, but everyone who's seen him warming up in barrier trials lately has been knocked out by his speed. At 4.30 this afternoon, they'll cheer the roof off the Pier Hotel if he shows that spine tingling burst of acceleration in the Salinger.

ANOTHER Coffs winner at Lismore last Sunday was jockey Daniel Baker who claimed last season's apprentice rider's title with a winning strike rate that would be the envy of most jockeys.

Daniel couldn't make the function after car problems en route, so I had the honour of presenting his prize to retired jockey and NRRA life member Peter Stanley on Daniel's behalf.

Being naturally tall, Daniel has struggled with his weight at times and has had restricted opportunities as a result, so to win the title must have been even more gratifying to him and his supporters led by Debbie Baker and Brett Bellamy.

Congratulations again, Daniel!

NEXT Tuesday's Star FM and 2CS-FM Melbourne Cup meeting here at Coffs will mark CHRC CEO Sherryn Tutt's last racing day in the position.

Sherryn has been at the helm of racing here for two years but is moving on, hopefully not too far.

During her time as CEO, racing at Coffs has experienced a marked resurgence and the club has fought it's way back to financial security on the back of two of the best Coffs Harbour Cup meetings in history.

The very best wishes of the local racing community go with Sherryn.

TUESDAY'S card here at Coffs sees the running of the annual Rod Young Memorial, this year a 1000m sprint featuring something of a 'who's who' of the senior open class horses here such as Bloodstone, Secret Stash, Serene Beau and Interstorm.

Adding some intrigue to the clash is Armidale gelding Smoothe, a Coffs specialist which has raced at tracks on the way to Birdsville and back since his last run here, and Port mare Designer Cleo which also runs well here.

While punters will obviously be battling to pick the winner of the big race, finding the winner of the local feature will be just as interesting.

I'VE never picked a Melbourne Cup winner but things are about to change.

As an English teacher of Irish ancestry, it's probably natural that apart from our Henry and Banjo, my favourite poet should be the Irish writer W.B. Yeats.

Aside from his stirring verse, Yeats had an interesting life, once marrying a woman 37 years his junior and then being relocated some time after his death in 1939. He was originally buried in France but the Irish dug him up a few years later and re-planted him in Drumcliffe chuchyard in his homeland where the cryptic epitaph he penned for himself was carved on his headstone and is now visited by busloads of tourists every day.

The famous epitaph reads, 'Cast a cold eye on life, on death. Horseman, pass by'.

If his boasts about the Irish-bred stayer Yeats are true, jockey Keiran Fallon will do just that to his rivals in the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday and give me a career first as a punter. Have a great Melbourne Cup day.



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