Gary Harley – RNSW- February Issue

Annual General Meeting

The Newcastle Jockey Clubs Annual General Meeting was held at the Newcastle Racecourse on December 4. The NJC returned a profit of $3,292,427 for the year ending June 30, 2021, It must be pointed out that the club sold Cessnock Racecourse to Racing NSW for $3.5 million during that period. However, the NJC spent $3.5 million of their own funds on the new race day stalls.

Chairman Geoff Barnett revealed that the Board has exciting plans for the future with the construction of a new stable complex top of the list of priorities. A Development Application is before Newcastle Council for a two story stable complex comprising 400-500 stables.

The NJC Board comprises of four directors appointed by Racing NSW. Richard Sonnichsen has been a member of the NJC Board since appointed by Racing NSW in March 2013. He recently stepped down and the new Racing NSW appointee is David Irwin who resides in the Lower Hunter Valley.  Irwin has career executive experience with Rio Tinto and Port Waratah Coal. He was the CEO of Pacific National from 2010-2017.

Irwin is currently Managing Director of True North Business and Property Services. He shares in the ownership of a number of thoroughbreds and he has a lifetime interest in thoroughbred racing.

Sonnichsen, Godolphin Building And property Manager was congratulated on his great contribution and advise to the NJC.

Choisir Passes Away

December 7, 2021 was a sad day for the Newcastle’s Perry and Wallace families when the news broke that their former crackerjack sprinter and successful sire Choisir passed away aged 22 at the Coolmore Stud in the Hunter Valley. Trained at Newcastle by Paul Perry the striking chestnut had 23 starts during 2002 and 2003 for 7 wins and eleven placings and prizemoney of $2.258 Million. In his two year old season Choisir won the Breeders Plate and was placed in the Golden Slipper, Pago Pago, AJC Sires and Champagne.

As a three year old he was placed in the Caulfield Guineas and Oakleigh Plate and he won the Group 1 Lightning Handicap at Flemington. Choisir put Newcastle Racing on the map in Europe in our winner 2003 when Perry decided to take on the worlds best sprinters during the Royal Ascot festival of racing.

Choisir had three starts in England, winning the Ascot double- The Group 2 Kings Stand and Group 1 Golden Jubilee before the Queen. He then finished a close second in the July Cup at Newmarket. That was his final racetrack appearance and he was spelled to Coolmore to stand at stud in Ireland before joining Coolmore’s Hunter Valley Stallion roster.

He sired more than 100 stakes winners in 12 countries and 11 Group 1 winners around the world. Choisir was inducted into the Newcastle and Hunter Racing Hall Of Fame in 2019

Provincial Championship

The eighth Racing NSW Provincial Championship Series kicks off with the first heat to be held at Newcastle on Saturday February 26. The heat carries prizemoney of $150,000 with three placegetters on each of the Provincial tracks progressing into the $500,000 Final at Randwick on April 9 second day of the Championships. The race is a Class 5 event under the set weight scale and the Newcastle heat will be run over 1400 metres.

Kris Lees targets the Provincial Series annually and of the seven finals, to date he has won three. Danish Twist (2016), Serene Miss (2018) and Cristal Breeze (2021) were his winners. It was a Newcastle quenella in last years final with Paul Perry’s Pandano the runner up.

West Aussie Wins Country Cup

West Australian apprentice Madi Derrick on loan to Kris Lees rode the winner of the Tuncurry Cup in December. Derrick secured the mount on the Newcastle trained galloper Prospero on race morning and the lady from the west gave a polished display.

Nathan Doyle prepared the winner. The talented apprentice rode her 100th career winner on the Paul Perry trained Bodgie at Newcastle in late November.

Derrick has been supported by Newcastle and other Provincial trainers since arriving in Newcastle.


Lees Provincial Series Threepeat

Newcastle Premier trainer Kris Lees won his third $150,000 Sky Racing Summer Provincial Series Final 1600m on the trot when Darleb scored the narrowest of victories in the 2021 Final at Newcastle Racecourse on December 18.

Darleb’s two owners reside in the Philippines and the entire carried the famous colours of the Inglis family. He had returned to Newcastle recently after back to back wins in Queensland and he was a $5.50 chance in the Final.

Darleb settled in seventh position and enjoyed a charmed run one off the rail. Aaron Bullock dragged the five year old into the clear with 300 metres to run and he set out after the $41 chance Too Good To Be Tru which was being backed as the winner. It was a titanic battle over the last 100 metres and Darleb put his nose in front on the post. Lees mare Grande Rumore finished third. Bred by Rod Northam Darleb has won seven races for prizemoney of $323,000.

It was the fourth running of the Provincial Series with Lees winning the past three with Occupy 2019, Itz Lily 2020, and Darleb. Lees was full of praise for his horse and also his team in Queensland. This horse can be inconsistent at times but he has been a good money spinner winning $323,000. Our team in Queensland not only trained Darleb to win two out of two, they sent the horse home looking a picture. He paraded in magnificent order. The Provincial Series is great for Provincial trainers and thanks to Sky Racing, the Provincial Clubs and Racing NSW.

Unfortunate I am going to loose Darleb after a couple of starts in 2022. He will be heading to the Philippines where he will race and he is an entire so he could go to stud there” Lees said.