Honouring a past champion
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
A RARE chance to honour and celebrate a past winner of the Coffs Harbour Gold Cup will be given to punters this afternoon just before the field jumps from the gates for the 3:57 start to the feature race.
When the horses leave the mounting yard today, leading them onto the track will be the winner of the 1988 Coffs Harbour Cup, Mr Marceau.
Now 22 years old, the former Cup winner was based in Cessnock with trainer and part owner Colleen Underhill but has been enjoying retirement in Bellingen where Underhill now resides.
It was 17 years ago that Mr Marceau romped home by three lengths from Wild and Wooly and the 2-1 favourite Spectacular View ridden by Darren Beadman.
Leading up to the race Underhill was supremely confident about her horses chances of taking out the cup.
"He'd only been beaten by a nose in the Queensland Derby leading up to it," the trainer said.
"I was as confident as you can be though."
Mr Marceau's jockey that day was Gold Coast hoop Stephen Schofield who only picked up the ride at the last minute.
Les Masters was originally given the ride but an accident in the first race of the Wednesday meeting meant that Underhill needed to make a last minute change of plans to find a suitable replacement.
"Les was a stable jockey of mine at the time and we were staying at Aanuka for the carnival," Underhill explained.
"Just by luck 'Beaver' (Schofield) had a couple of drinks on the Wednesday night and decided to wait until the morning before he drove home.
"To a degree it caused some concern but Les and I had already decided how to run him in the Cup so he just passed all the information on."
The celebrations that night at Aanuka still remain a vivid memory for Underhill.
"There was Jack Gibson, the Ella brothers and the Winfield Girls having a wild night," she remembered.
"I remember a journalist playing Chopsticks on the piano at four o'clock in the morning in his socks."
For the Racing Club's current secretary Sherryn Tutt, Mr Marceau's parading today provides an opportunity for the club to celebrate it's Cup history that comes along all too rarely.
"It's hard to start a tradition of past Cup winners leading the field onto the track," she said.