AFTER a break of more than 20 years, Hugh Macdonald has again taken over as the president of the Hamilton Racing Club.
Macdonald was president in 1998 and 1999 after being on the Hamilton committee for 10 years.
The 60-year-old farmer, who has replaced Helen Sobey, said he was looking forward to the challenges that the new role presents.
"I was asked to fill a casual vacancy on the committee and accepted in September before taking over as president just a couple of weeks ago," Macdonald said. "I've been watching for years how the club has been performing, and I thought I've got a bit more free time now, so I decided to put my hand up. Racing has changed a lot since I was president of the club back in 1998 and 1999, but the basics are still the same."
Macdonald said the club, which hosts eight meetings a year, is hoping to pick up an extra meeting in the future.
"We've put in for an extra meeting and should find out soon if our application has been accepted," he said. "We're wanting to appoint a new manager - previously it's been a three day a week job, but we've changed it to a full-time job. We think going forward there are plenty of opportunities for the club to grow. The south-west is the main area for jumps racing and we want to see that developed more. We want to work closely with Warrnambool, Casterton, Terang and Coleraine, who host jumps races in this area, and we want to see the sport grow and flourish."
Macdonald said the club is on the lookout for a professional trainer to take over 28 yards and a barn on-course.
"It's important we get a full-time trainer on-course," he said. "The facilities are very good and we're looking at improving them even further. It would be a massive boost to racing in Hamilton if we can attract a new trainer. A new trainer would generate plenty of interest in the town for racing and the club will receive numerous benefits on the back of having a full-time trainer."
Hamilton race again on Tuesday, December 7.
Penshurst Racing Club has a solid foundation to build on after hosting a successful meeting on Saturday, according to secretary Brendan Kelly.
The once-a-year club previously raced on Boxing Day but changed the date to between the Dunkeld and Jericho Cups this year.
"We were very happy with how the day went off on the changed date," Kelly said. "We had a lot of apprehension on making the change after racing on Boxing Day for 120 years but it all came together really well. It's the first time we can remember having a nine race program, which showed owners and trainers really supported the day. The club was really happy with the response from racegoers. We had nearly 1000 patrons on-course and we're confident we can build on that number in the future."
Penshurst opens up its course for four sets of trials a year.
Versatile jockey Will Gordon is living by the old motto - have saddle will travel. The former English jockey, who rides with success on the flat and over jumps, has been putting in the hard yards to establish himself in Victoria's jockey ranks. Gordon, who is based at Mornington, has been travelling to meetings all over the state. He rode three winners at Penshurst on Saturday before going to Swan Hill for Sunday races and then back to Hamilton for Monday's meeting. Tuesday sees him riding in trials at Moe and then going across town to ride at Geelong on Tuesday afternoon. Gordon is booked for rides later in the week but will spend nine meetings on the sidelines from November 29 to December 8 for a whip infringement and was fined $400 for the indiscretion at Swan Hill on Sunday. He pleaded guilty that he used the whip on Okotoks four times more than the permitted amount prior to the 100-metre mark.
Cavendish trainer Peter Young was excited following the win of his seven-year-old mare Miss Cavendish at Penshurst on Saturday.
Miss Cavendish, with Melissa Julius on board, defeated Fair Go in the 1476-metre contest.
Young gave credit to Julius after the victory.
"Melissa has a great understanding of Miss Cavendish," he said. "She's a light-framed mare who needs coaxing to get her to run up to her best. Benchmark 52 races are in her range. She just struggles in tougher class races but we've had a lot of fun with her. We'll look at breeding from her in the future. We may send her to Royal Symphony. I think he may be an underrated stallion."
Miss Cavendish has won four of her 35 starts.
Six jockeys were suspended for riding indiscretions after meetings at Terang on Friday and Saturday's Penshurt's Cup meeting.
Tom Ryan, Liam Riordan and Jack Hill were suspended at Terang, while Kevin Bohorun, Campbell Rawiller and John Robertson found themselves on the sidelines following Penshurst.
Ryan and Riordan pleaded guilty to careless riding charges. Ryan's suspension commences at midnight on November 28 and concludes after four jumps-highweight races. Riordan is out for 11 meetings. Riordan starts his suspension at midnight on November 24 and ends midnight December 3.
Hill was found guilty of a careless riding charge. He's on the sidelines from midnight November 28 until December 7.
Bohorun was outed for eight meetings on a careless riding charge. His time on the sidelines started on November 20.
Robertson is also on the sidelines for eight meetings following his careless riding charge, while Rawiller is $400 lighter in the pocket and will miss 11 meetings after pleading guilty to a whip indiscretion.
YONKERS: just failed to win at nice odds on Saturday. He'll be hard to beat in similar company next time.
SALTPETER: liked the way he finished off a 1600 metre race on Saturday. He finished five lengths from the winner but should have been closer. Saltpeter has been consistent during his career and is one worth following.
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