Inside Racing - January 8

THE Warrnambool Racing Club is hoping to announce within weeks new sponsors for its two feature races at its May Racing Carnival.

Club chief executive John Green has confirmed to The Standard that he is confident the new signings will be secured in the near future.

"With the holiday break we've just had to wait to have everything sorted out," Green said.

"The TAB has decided not to renew its Warrnambool Cup sponsorship but they will continue to have naming rights sponsorship for the carnival, which is a great result for us.

"The Flying Horse Inn which had previously sponsored the Grand Annual (Steeplechase) has decided to have a change of direction with their sponsorship dollars.

"They have been great supporters of the racing club for many years and we are very grateful of their support."

Green said the club was lucky that it had attracted such good sponsors over so many years.

"The TAB Warrnambool May Racing Carnival is the biggest sporting event in the Western District. We're very grateful of our sponsors," he said.

"We attract local and Australia-wide coverage plus international coverage for our carnival.

"We think our carnival is a great medium for businesses to get their message out to the public on a wider scale, whether that is through the print, radio or television mediums."

Warrnambool's May carnival will be run on April 30, May 1 and 2 .

FAVOURITE punters had a bleak run at the five summer race meetings which were run on Western District race tracks over the holiday period.

From 36 races which were run at Colac on December 22, Penshurst on December 26, Woodford on December 30, Terang on January 1 and Warrnambool last Sunday only 11 outright favourites and three equal favourites were successful.

A breakdown of the results shows one favourite was successful on the seven-race program at Colac.

Two won on the seven-race card at Penshurst, while two won at the Woodford meeting, plus two equal favourites.

Three favourites and an equal favourite saluted at Terang.

Favourite punters were rubbing their hands with glee after three favourites won the first three races at Warrnambool on Sunday but their joy was short-lived as no other favourite was successful .

Leading Warrnambool bookmaker Roger Wright said betting holdings for the five race meetings were down slightly on last year's figures.

"The bookies finished up marginally in front over the five meetings. I would say the money was down slightly compared to last year but not by that much," Wright said.

"Our betting figures on the Woodford meeting were up on last year's figures that meeting has turned into a very big meeting for everyone."

HEAVILY-BACKED favourite Opportunistic left punters at Warrnambool on Sunday with worthless pieces of paper after he failed to finish in a restricted race over 1400 metres.

Opportunistic met with strong support from punters on the back of his impressive record of two wins from four starts but he was having his first run for nearly a year.

Stewards questioned jockey Dean Yendall after the race for answers why the lightly raced six-year-old failed to finish.

Yendall told the stewards the horse struggled to stay in contention and something felt amiss in his action.

He thought the horse may have suffered a bleeding attack and that is why he eased the horse out of the race.

A post-race veterinary examination of Opportunistic failed to reveal any obvious abnormalities.

Stewards advised trainer Darren Weir the horse would now have to complete one official barrier trial before he raced again.

CRANBOURNE-based jockey Peter Mertens took the riding honours at Warrnambool on Sunday when he booted home a winning treble.

Two of his winners were for Cranbourne trainer Robbie Griffiths.

Mertens said he loved the chance to ride at race meetings in the Western District.

"The face of racing has changed so much over the past few years you just have to go to where you can win races," he said. "I've had a fair bit of success riding in the Western District over the past few months .

"There are a lot of good trainers down in this neck of the woods. I'm just pleased to come down and ride a winner or two especially with the Warrnambool May carnival only a few months away I want to stay under the notice of trainers and owners."

Mertens' winners were Eternal Circle, Jungle Fighter and Horacio.

HORSHAM-based jockey Christine Puls is hoping to resume riding in early February after recovering from a back injury she received in a trackwork accident at Avoca in November .

"I just want to forget 2012," Puls said.

"It was a terrible year for me. I had problems with my right eye which put me on the sidelines and then I fractured my T12 (vertebrae) in my back at Avoca .

"I'm hoping to get a clearance so I can resume trackwork riding this Friday. It will take me a few weeks to get my fitness good so I can ride in races. I hope to begin riding in races again in early February."

HURDY Gurdy Man's second placing in Sunday's Koroit Cup has clinched his owners the $10,000 Star Of The West owners' bonus which was on offer for the horse that accumulated the most points in the three-race series over the Port Fairy, Woodford and Koroit cups.

The Darren Weir-trained galloper defeated Scaredymac by one point, with Hinchley Wood one point away in third spot.

The Warrnambool training combination of Bill and Symon Wilde picked up the $2000 Star Of The West trainers' bonus .

A fund-raiser evening for former Camperdown jockey Louise Cooper will be held at the Timboon Hotel on Saturday night.

Numerous items have kindly been donated for the event, which will kick off at 6pm.

Publican Graeme "Grandpa" Welsh said the night looked like being a great fund-raiser for Cooper and her family.

Cooper suffered serious spinal injuries after a race fall at Edenhope in March last year.

SHOWJUMPING and thoroughbred racing joined forces in more ways than one at Warrnambool racecourse at the weekend.

The final day of the Shipwreck Coast Showjumping Championships went ahead alongside Koroit Cup day at the Grafton Street course.

But more than that, the championships had a class for the best-performed former thoroughbred which had taken up a showjumping career. Coragulac horse trainer Rachael Gane and Simple Dreams took the honours out of 10 contenders, earning the pair a new rug.

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