The 2017-18 was a career high for three participants based at Newcastle Racecourse. Kris Lees trained a personal best 191 ½ winners for the season, Ben Smith trained his first Group 1 winner, while Aaron Bullock rode 107 winners despite missing three months of the season with weight issues.
The Lees stables continues to grow in numbers and while there were no Group 1 winners in 2017/18 the tally of front-runners was 30 more than his previous best in the 2016-17 season.
He finished fifth in the Australian Trainers Premiership and third in New South Wales behind Chris Waller and James Cummings.
The ever-popular Lees was proud of his Newcastle stables achievement. “Newcastle has great training facilities, we have a big team of horses and wonderful staff.
I am proud of the stables achievements in the 2017-18 season and our stable will continue to grow. Our farm at Ellalong near Cessnock is a very important part of our operation.
There is 150 acres at the farm and down the track we will look to expand the stable occupancy. I will probably increase our presence in Queensland in future months.” Lees said.
It was a stellar season for Ben Smith as he emerged as a Group 1 winning trainer after a frustrating 2016-17 season. The star of his team is sprinter In Her Time, most unlucky when placed in two Group 1’s the previous season in Brisbane.
The mare got her Group 1 in The Galaxy at Rosehill in March of this year. In Her Time finished the season with prizemoney of $2,135,725.
Smith’s then two-year-old filly El Dorado Dreaming produced the shock of the Sydney Autumn Carnival when she won the Group 1 Sires Produce only a week after being beaten in a Newcastle two-year-old Maiden.
Smith who did his training apprenticeship with Greg Bennett, Peter Snowden and John Hawkes is one of the rising stars of the New South Wales training ranks.
In Her Time is the only New South Wales non-metropolitan trained horse in the 2018 The Everest.
Aaron Bullocks’ riding has gone to another level since he teamed up with the Lees stable and this season he has ridden 40 more winners than his previous best.
The Newcastle Jockey Club will hold its 2017-18 Awards night at the track on Wednesday 12 September.
2018 NJC SPRING CARNIVAL
The 2018 Newcastle Jockey Club’s Spring Racing Carnival will be held on Friday September 14 and Saturday September 15.
The Club’s flagship race, the Group 3 Newcastle Gold Cup (2300m) will highlight the Friday program. Well known Newcastle firm, Sharp Electronics Group will sponsor the Cup for the first time and prizemoney has been increased from $175,000 to $200,000.
Four Group 3 races will be run on Friday 14 September.
The other three Group 3 races are-
Australian Bloodstock Cameron Handicap (1500m) with prizemoney increased from $150,000 to $160,000.
Yarraman Park Tibbie Stakes (1400m) for the fillies and mares with prizemoney of $160,000 (up $10,000).
Hungerford Hill Wines Three-Year-Old Spring Stakes a set weight event over 1600 metres with prizemoney of $160,000 (up $10,000).
The Saturday is Westfield Kotara Ladies Day with two $40,000 races. The Open Handicap 900 metre Hurricane and the Benchmark 70 Newcastle Nobbys (1400m) for horses with a minimum four starts on a Provincial or Country track in the previous 12 months.
The Beauford Club Luncheon will be held at the track on Thursday September 13 with Wayne Harris as guest speaker.
A Calcutta will be held following the Beauford Club in the Ascot Bar on the track.
PROVINCIAL SPRING SERIES
The Provincial Spring Series is a new series, the brainchild of NJC CEO Matt Benson.
Each of the five Provincial Clubs will stage a $50,000 heat with the inarguable $150,000 Final to be held over 1600 metres at Kembla on Saturday December 1.
All heats are Class 5 events at set weights and are scheduled for Wyong (1350m) October 21, Kembla (1400m) October 27, Hawkesbury (1400m or 1500m), Newcastle (1500m) November 18 and Gosford (1600m) November 24.
To be eligible horses must have had no more than 20 starts and are to be trained by a NSW Provincial Trainer.
First, Second and Third in the heats qualify for the Final.
Racing NSW has given the go ahead for Cessnock to host its first ever Showcase meeting on Wednesday November 21.
The ATC was scheduled to race on the Kensington track on November 21 and Cessnock the next day, however, the ATC requested a switch and the Newcastle Jockey Club were only too happy to accept the offer.
The Cessnock meeting is a standalone as there are no other New South Wales meetings that day. The Feature race is the $45,000 Cessnock Cup (2125m).
There will be a $40,000, 1150 metre Maiden for Country trained horses, and a $30,000, 1350 metre Class 4 for Country trained horses.
All other races will have prizemoney of $30,000 including a 900 metre Lightning Handicap.