Wayne Wilson, Danny Nikolic and Wayne Harris declared the annual carnival one of the nation’s best.
Wayne Wilson, Danny Nikolic and Wayne Harris declared the annual carnival one of the nation’s best. Bruce Thomas

Gold Cup buzz still in the air

THE dust is still settling on Coffs Harbour Racing Club’s annual carnival and the debriefing of participants continues.

An estimated 8500 racegoers packed the track for the Carlton Mid Gold Cup on Thursday, but chairman Alan Johnson said it was the notable visitors from within the racing industry who sealed the success of the carnival.

“Danny Nikolic has almost become our permanent annual guest and while I keep asking him for my 10 per cent management fees, he still hasn’t come to the party,” he laughed.

“Having Joe (Janiak) bring Takeover Target out to meet the crowd was just sensational and we keep getting famous faces arriving which makes it all the better.”

Legendary Brisbane race-caller Wayne Wilson admitted he was blown away by the experience.

“This is just awesome and the people here love it,” he said.

“Definitely one of the best race days I’ve been to.”

Wilson was accompanied by retired champion jockey Wayne Harris who can list the 1994 Melbourne Cup aboard Jeune among the 41 Group One winners he rode in a glittering career that was cut short by injury.

With Harris looking on and Ballina jockey Scott Seamer riding top weight Silent Movie in the main event, Cup day had the distinction of having two winning riders from the nation’s greatest race on course.

Seamer won the 2001 Caulfield - Melbourne Cup double on Ethereal.

Starting with the Sawtell Cup meeting on July 24, the 2011 three-day carnival saw 23 races decided.

A total of 11 locally-trained horses won races with Brett Bellamy far and away the leading trainer with seven victories and his quartet on the opening day ensured he’d win the NSW Country Trainer’s title for the first time.

Trevor Hardy and Jim Jarvis prepared two winners each with the former winning the Daniel Baker Memorial Sprint with Symposium.

Matt Bennett, Robert Thompson, Raymond Spokes and Dale Spriggs shared riding honours with three winners each.

For local rider Spokes, his tally was bitter sweet after going down in the NRRA jockey’s premiership to Matt Paget by half a win.

Leading apprentice was Codie McPherson who rode a double for her master Jim Jarvis on Wednesday.

But the biggest cheers came for premier Brisbane jockey Glen “Spike” Colless who in the 24 hours leading up to the victory on Brave The Way, went to extraordinary lengths to ensure he captured his home town’s greatest sporting prize.

“Spike got here on Tuesday, flew south on Wednesday morning to win on his only ride at Canterbury and got off the plane for our last race at 4.30pm,” chairman Johnson revealed.

“That confirmed he was keen so I doubled my bet in the Cup.”

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