Sheikh's horses set for carnival
PETER Snowden, the head Australian trainer for Sheikh Mohammed’s internationally renowned Darley stable, is headed to Grafton with a team of horses for the July Racing Carnival.
Snowden’s last visit to Grafton 35 years ago nearly ended his life.
Riding as a seven stone, seven pound (47.5kg) jockey aboard One Eyed Queen, a horse trained by the late Ron Englebrecht, and with vision in only one eye, Snowden was involved in a horrific race fall in the 1975 Ramornie Handicap.
The race was won by Wayne’s Bid, which later lost the race to Eternal following a positive swab.
The respected 53-year-old Scone-raised horseman vividly recalls the incident.
“I’ve never been back since that fall, not by choice, but circumstance,” Snowden said.
“I vividly remember the race. There was a field of about 20, we came from barrier nine.
“Near the 800 metres I got squeezed, One Eyed Queen clipped heels and came down. Just about the whole field went over me.
“I remember coming to, still groggy and thinking ‘I’m dead for sure here’, then I saw (steward) Michael Beattie standing over me.
“Looking up and seeing Michael’s face was scary, scarier than the fall,” Snowden joked.
“I was very lucky.
“I was beat-up a bit, sore all over and that night had x-rays, but only copped a broken ankle.
“I’m looking forward to coming back.
“The Grafton carnival’s terrific, with a long tradition, well patronised, well promoted and draws plenty of publicity and discussion, even in Sydney.”
Sydney-based Snowden heads an impressive list of big-name trainers and jockeys targeting the $840,000, five-meeting carnival that blasts into action next Thursday.
Pinwheel, a son of champion racehorse and outstanding stallion Lonhro, will carry the famed Darley colours in the $130,000 WHK Ramornie, and three-year-old Damacene in the $40,000 Tursa Employment and Training Grafton Guineas on July 13.
Snowden said “a couple of other horses” were under consideration.
Leading Sydney jockey Corey Brown is being sought to ride the Darley runners.
Snowden spent 21 years as foreman and assistant trainer under Vic Thompson and John Hawkes, helping prepare horses for millionaire owners, the late Jack and Bob Ingham, known as the “chicken kings”.
The Inghams won the 1992 Grafton Cup with Cross Swords.
When Hawkes decided to move into a family operation with sons Michael and Wayne in November, 2007, Snowden was appointed head trainer for the Inghams.
He then retained the position after Darley purchased the massive racing empire for $500 million in May, 2008.
Darley’s founder, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rasheed Al Maktoum, a member of the ruling Dubai royal family, is the world’s biggest thoroughbred owner.
Darley’s global empire spans six different countries.
Their famous maroon and white racing colours have won many of the world’s great races ... now for Grafton.