Thompson yearns for Ramornie win

CHAMPION country jockey Robert Thompson reckons he is owed a win in Grafton's historic Ramornie Handicap and believes this might be his year.

Thompson has been a part of Grafton Cup carnivals since he first started riding in the 1970s.

Now 48 and one of the elite handful of Australian jockeys to have ridden more than 3000 winners, Thompson counts his win on My Star Sapphire in the 1981 Grafton Cup as one of his most cherished victories as the stayer was trained by his father Arthur.

However if there is one race result that burns Thompson it is the 1996 Ramornie Handicap when a nose denied Thompson his first win in the feature sprint of the Grafton carnival.

That year's Ramornie featured an epic clash between the top-class sprinters Cangronde, ridden by Wayne Harris, and Thompson's mount Moss Rocket.

They went head and head to the line, with Cangronde prevailing by the narrowest margin to deny Thompson victory in a race he is longing to win.

"Grafton has always been my favourite country carnival and it just won't seem right if I come to the end of my career and don't have a Ramornie win to go with my Grafton Cup," said Thompson.

The time could be right for Thompson to set the record straight as he is booked to ride the classy Tamworth-trained sprinter The Jackal in this year's $125,000 Black Toyota Ramornie (1200m) to be raced on Wednesday.

Trainer Paul St Vincent confirmed that he booked Thompson to ride The Jackal in the Ramornie well before the pair combined to win the W.J. Healy Stakes at Eagle Farm.

St Vincent made the Ramornie arrangements with Thompson at the start of The Jackal's current preparation when he asked the Cessnock jockey to ride the sprinter in an exhibition gallop at Tamworth.

"After Robert galloped him between races at Tamworth I gave him $100 and asked him to ride him in the Ramornie," St Vincent said.

"He accepted and when I knew The Jackal was going around in the Healy Stakes I rang Robert and asked him to come up to Brisbane for the ride."

The Jackal is known as a hard 'puller' in his races but Thompson got him to settle kindly in the Healy Stakes and St Vincent hopes it is an omen for the Ramornie.

"The right bloke was on him and it made the difference. I only hope they can do it again in the Ramornie."

The Healy Stakes promises to be a strong guide to the Ramornie as the Brett Bellamy-trained runner-up Sectagonal is also set for the big Grafton sprint.

The Clarence River Jockey Club's July Carnival started yesterday with the Westlawn Finance Grafton Cup Prelude.

Sunday will see the running of the South Grafton Cup while the culmination of the carnival is being held on Thursday when the Grafton Cup is being run in front of an estimated 15,000 spectators.

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