All eyes on the Emerald 100
THE calendar is only 11 weeks away from ticking over to the year 2020. With The NRL to be decided this weekend will it be the Canberra raiders or the Rooster lift the Norm Provan shield. The AFL flag has gone to The Richmond tigers led by Dustin Martin and the New South Wales Swifts taking out Suncorp super netball premiership and the mighty Dysart Bulls running away with the silverware in the Central
Highlands rugby league comp.
The most important time of the year is now upon us horse enthusiasts and punt addicts with horse racing now taking centre stage with the run up to the Caulfield Cup and $14 million
Everest where local wonder filly Sunlight will be representing Emerald and on to the holy grail of the Cox Plate and the race that stops a nation the Melbourne Cup. Pioneer Park will be standing room only on October 12 when an estimated crowd of 3,500 cram in to racing headquarters in the Central Highlands to witness the running of the 2019 Emerald 100.
The Emerald 100 is named after stating the obvious the original one pound prize money offered in the first running of the time honoured staying race in 1965. The 100 has earned the title of the most prestigious race to win on the Central Highlands circuit each year.
The first running of the Emerald 100 was taken by Jactator ridden by Harry Home way back in 1965. Veteran Emerald racing identity, trainer and Pioneer Park track curator Noel Coyne rode the winner of the Emerald 100, when he piloted Tin Horn, to victory way back in 1966 for Arthur Meeks, grandfather of Emerald racing fraternity stalwarts race day steward Gary Meek and longtime Pioneer Park trainers Ross Meek and Wayne Meek.
Old track touts over the years tell the story of Noel Coyne being fined after the running of the 1966 edition for wearing sharpened spurs. Legend has it Arthur Meek stepped in behind the scenes and was more than happy to pay the 2 pound fine and give him more in the way of a sling for his genius efforts.
The 2019 edition of the 100 will see contestants racing for total prize money of $15000 of which winning connections will be taking home close to $10000.
There have been several adjustments to the distances of the Emerald 100. It was increased to 1800 metres in 1979, to 1900 metres in 1981 and then to 2000 metres in 1985. It remained at 2000 metres up until 2004 and in 2005 the distance of the event was reduced back to 1635 metres and then in 2006 the club made the decision to go back to the present 1850 metres.
The club have tinkered with distance of the event over many years trying to find the right balance to attract quality fields.
In the 54 years of the race only two horses have saluted on more than one occasion. Firstly Pleasant Express in 1992 when ridden by Athol Williams and again the following year in 1993 when ridden by John Stephens. Aramac bookmaker and regular Emerald bookmaker Gary Peoples’ war horse Snedden, trained by his father Neville ‘Knocka’ Peoples in 1995, performed a herculean task of claiming 2 of Queensland’s richest country races taking out the Birdsville Cup and Emerald 100 in the same calendar year. Then the following year he won the 1996 edition of the Birdsville Cup.
Blackall owned galloper Exploder equalled the feat in 2002 and again in 2003. In one of his successes he was trained by legendary country trainer Billy Trimble who is now based in Bluff. Successful jockeys in these years were Athol Williams and Ricky Barone.
In recent years it has been a case of ecstasy and agony for bookmakers. In 2014 Slim Henry landing the prize caused a bloodbath for on-course bookies with punters having the radar absolute calibrated when Slim Henry sent shockwaves through to the bagman landing big bets and left them realing in the aftermath. In 2017 Longreach cup winner Dutch courage was backed from $3.50 to start at $1.05 and never fired a shot in running at the rear of the field leaving the bookie boys with the lot. In 2018 John Manzelmann and the voice of Central Western Queensland racing Rob Luck running away with the most well bred horse to ever grace the Pioneer Park racetrack when The Greatest made the earth rumble at Pioneer Park with Alisha Ross in the saddle.
It has been 13 years since an Emerald trained horse won the Emerald 100. In 2006 Pimpala Player, owned in partnership by the late Tony (grump) Button and the late John Campbell and ridden by none other than Emerald racing’s first lady Glenda Bell. Glenda Bell gets her chance this year with her cups king Fastnet Flyer a win would give Bell the rare feat of riding and training a winner of the Emerald 100.