Heated day of racing
CLERMONT Race Club hosted the Epping Forrest Cup Day at Pepperina Park in Clermont last weekend.
Clermont Race Club president Bill Bell said the meeting was another big success for the club, with more than 600 people flocking through the gates and getting behind the day.
Bell said he hoped the drought gripping the Belyando and surrounding Clermont grazing districts would break in the coming wet season and was sure the Twin Hills meeting will be a massive success in 2019. He added that he may even dust off the riding silks for a cameo appearance.
Last season's country Queensland premier trainer Bevan Johnson made the 1208 kilometre round trip from his Miles base to dominate the meeting with three winners - the last three winners on the program.
Johnson broke through in race four with his new stable addition If By Chance, who took out the 1200 metre Maiden ($2.60) ridden by Hannah Phillips.
If By Chance looks set to progress on Saturday's effort and feature strongly for the Johnson stable.
Johnson backed it up in race five when teaming up with Rockhampton apprentice Thomas Doyle to take out the ratings band benchmark 60 over 1400 metres with Yeezy ($2.20) who has had a purple patch of form, making it two wins on end for team Johnson.
The feature event, the Epping Forrest Cup, saw Johnson and this year's Clermont Cup winner Still The Same ($3.20), with Hannah Phillips again in the saddle, defying Springsure Cup winner Dawn Fighter and Manzelmanns Far North in a tight finish.
Johnson may have multiple runners in the upcoming $15,000 Emerald 100. He has committed Murphy's Hustler and potentially Still the Same in the Central Highlands feature staying event.
Johnson topped the day off nicely when his stable star Fabs Cowboy scored first up at Charleville, making it four for the day and seven winners in seven days for the country racing journeyman.
THE field for the Emerald 100 Open Handicap (1850m) to be held on October 13 is shaping up to be very strong and at full capacity with plenty of depth.
Rockhampton trainer Julie Lancaster is looking to have up to four runners.
Mick Attard, also from Rockhampton, has pencilled in his stayer option to contest this year's 100.
Hunter Island, who is raced by Springsure racing identity Ian Rohden, scored a dominant win in the Longreach Cup last month with comeback hoop Luke Dillon in the saddle.
Hunter Island's dominant win will see the evergreen nine-year-old Zabeel a strong chance and likely favourite in the event.
Since resuming this campaign the Patrick O'Toole Barcaldine trained galloper has won the Muttaburra Cup and also a restricted race at Pioneer Park in early September with a massive weight and an unlucky second placing in the Springsure Cup last month.
Hunter Island has also banked $20,000 in prizemoney this campaign.
The strong field will ensure a very strong calcutta on Friday night where Melbourne Cup winning jockey John Letts will host the evening.
It begins at 6.30pm in the members bar at the Emerald Jockey Club.