Jockeys Damien Thornton and Luke Currie will compete in the Resimax Group Jockeys Challenge on February Twilight Race Day. Credit: Vince Caligiuri
The Victoria Racing Club is excited to announce the two teams and coaches set to take part in Flemington’s first Rapid Race Day on February Twilight Race Day, Sunday 9 February.
The brand new race day features a shorter, punchier program with 30 minute gaps between races and a seven-race card where all races will be run on the famous Flemington straight course over sprint distances ranging from 1000m – 1200m.
Adding to the thrill of the day is a jockeys challenge where fourteen of Victoria’s leading riders will do battle for the first Resimax Group Jockeys Challenge Trophy under the guidance of their all-important coaches.
VRC Chief Executive Officer Neil Wilson said the Club was looking forward to the new race day.
“February Twilight Race Day is an exciting development given it is the only race day held at Flemington on a Sunday and offers an entire card of straight-course racing,” Mr Wilson said.
“Flemington will also host the first Resimax Group Jockeys Challenge, a format that gives fans the chance to support their favourite riders.
“All gate takings on the day will be donated to the Bushfire Disaster Appeal with free entry for firefighters and their families, continuing the VRC’s support for bushfire relief.”
AFL premiership-winning coach and budding racehorse trainer Denis Pagan will lead the metropolitan team while former AFL player, talent manager and broadcaster Liam Pickering will look to steer the country team to victory.
The metropolitan team is headlined by 2019 Lexus Melbourne Cup-winning rider Craig Williams with Damien Oliver, Dwayne Dunn, Ben Melham, Linda Meech, Mark Zahra and Luke Currie.
The country team stars Dean Yendall, young gun Jye McNeil, Daniel Stackhouse, Damien Thornton, Jarrod Fry, Dean Holland, and Jason Maskiell.
Pagan said he can’t wait to pull on his coaching hat once again.
“Rapid Racing is a great concept and I’m looking forward to getting out there and getting the competitive juices flowing once again,” Pagan said.
“The combined experience of the metropolitan team is incredible. The country team will have their work cut out for them.”
Pickering, who hails from Stawell in the Wimmera region of Victoria, said he is proud to return to his country roots.
“I’m excited to form part of the country team,” Pickering said.
“The riders are some of the most talented horsemen in Australia and shouldn’t be underestimated.”
A coin toss held at the National Jockeys Trust annual T20 Cricket Match on Monday determined that the metropolitan team will ride horses with odd-numbered saddlecloths while the country team will ride even-numbered horses.
The Resimax Group Jockeys Challenge has been designed with the support of the Victorian Jockeys Association and the minimum riding weight will be 57kg to ensure a more even playing field for competitors.
Points will be awarded to the first four placegetters in each race and double points on offer in the last race of the day. Members of the winning team will receive a $10,000 hospitality prize courtesy of Resimax Group, while the top scoring jockey and trainer will each receive two nights’ accommodation at Adelphi Hotel.
Gates open on February Twilight Raceday at 2pm with the first race at 4pm. Flemington’s famous front lawn will feature a Sunday Session at the Lawn Bar with The Surf & Turf Shack, a Cape Cod-inspired bar. The outdoor venue will serve up seafood specials, delicious cocktails and BBQ delights for all racegoers accompanied by live music.
VRC members and guests can enjoy specially curated summer cocktails and listen to laid-back tunes on The Balcony Bar or take in all the racing action from The Roof Garden, which will remain open until 9pm. Free children’s activities will take place on the west end of the front lawn.