JUMPS racing is gearing up for a boom year in 2022, according to Australian Jumping Racing Association chairman Sandy McGregor.
McGregor's comments come on the back of news that more trainers are thinking of having jumping horses in their stables for 2022 and the introduction of the new one-fit hurdles.
"We've had interest from a few new trainers who are thinking of training jumpers in 2022," he said. "It's really positive news for the sport. The more jumps trainers we have, the better. We want to grow the number of horses in jumps races. The one-fit hurdles have been a big winner for jumps racing. There was an 80 per cent reduction in the amount of falls in 2019, which is a wonderful result and that means the incidental damage rate is a lot less."
McGregor said the introduction of the Jericho Cup had been a big winner for jumps racing.
"Jumps trainers have their horses in work longer now because of the Jericho meeting," he said. "The Jericho is a marathon staying flat test, which allows trainers to keep their horses in work and keep them fit and healthy. Jumps racing is really lucky to have three key events during the year in the Warrnambool Grand Annual Steeplechase (May), the Grand National Steeplechase (August) and the Jericho Cup (November)."
The 2022 jumps season begins in March.
The sudden passing of former talented jockey Kevin "Secco" Sexton has shocked the community of Terang and areas of the racing industry. Mr Sexton, 70, began his career in racing working for the late Geelong trainer Ken White, who trained the top mare Dual Choice before signing up as an apprentice with top trainer Owen Lynch. Mr Sexton was a gun apprentice, who also rode track work for another leading trainer, Cyril Beechey, and while working for Beechey, he rode the Caulfield Cup winner Gay Icarus in a race. He mixed flat riding with riding over the jumps and booted home numerous winners for the late legendary Warrnambool trainer Jocka Baillie.
Former top western district jockey Neville "Nifty" Wilson said Mr Sexton was a fierce competitor on the racetrack but a kind, quick-witted, generous person off the track.
"Secco's sudden passing was a big shock," Wilson said. "He was a very underrated jockey while he was riding. He was a very popular person. I don't think anyone could say a bad word about Secco."
Mr Sexton was well-known in pubs around Terang, Warrnambool and Allansford, where he worked as a cleaner in the later years of his life. He is survived by his partner of 45 years Maureen and two children plus seven siblings. Deepest sympathy is extended to his family at this sad time.
Blenheim Palace will have one more run before tackling the $200,000 Bagot Handicap over 2800 metres at Flemington on New Years Day. The six-year-old, having his second start for Warrnambool trainer Simon Ryan, ran third in the Werribee Cup, with veteran jockey Craig Robertson in the saddle on Sunday.
Ryan said Blenheim Palace looks likely to take his place in a $120,000 race over 2600 metres at Flemington on December 18 as the final lead in to the Bagot.
"I was quite happy with Blenheim Palace's run in the Werribee Cup," Ryan said. "It was only his second run for six months and he probably felt the pinch over the concluding stages. He's going to improve off the back of his Werribee Cup performance. We purchased Blenheim Palace from an online auction. The long-term aim is to target some jumps races with him. He jumps quite well. I think he's got a bright future at the jumping caper, but firstly, we'll look at the Bagot."
Former Warrnambool trainer Andrew Homann took the blame for Darlamax's unplaced runs at Kyneton and Tralagon after the six-year-old won a $55,000 race at Morphettville on Saturday. Darlamax won Saturday's race over 1950 metres by more than three lengths.
"It was my fault that Darlamax never performed to his best at his last two runs," Homann said. "Darlamax's best runs have been on firm surfaces. He got those type of conditions at Morphettville on Saturday but he ran on unsuitable tracks at his prior two starts. Saturday's race is part of a series which ends up in a $100,000 final in a few weeks time."
Talented jockey Billy Egan will be on the sidelines for eight meetings after pleading guilty to a careless riding charge at Moonee Valley on Friday night. Egan's suspension commences at midnight on December 12. Stewards deemed the careless riding charge was in the low range. Fellow hoop Daniel Moor was suspended by stewards following his ride on El Salto at Werribee on Sunday. Stewards outed Moor for eight meetings.
Warrnambool trainer Pat Ryan is weighing up the options for his lightly raced mare Wanalirri after her unplaced run in a $60,000 fillies and mares race at Moonee Valley on Friday night. Wanalirri ran eighth but finished less than three lengths from the winner Soaring Eagle in the 1600-metre race.
"We've got two options. We may run Wanalirri back at Moonee Valley this Friday night or she may go for a brief spell," Ryan said. "Initially, I was a bit disappointed with her run behind Soaring Eagle last Friday, but, after a closer look, it was not a bad run. She made steady ground over the concluding stages. I'll see how she is during the week before making up my mind in the middle of the week."
From 13 starts, Wanalirri has won more than $100,000.
ROYAL ORDER: showed he's not far away from another win with a third placing over 2000 metres on Saturday. He's had three runs from a break and is ready to win again.
MUNITIONS: liked his performance to run second at Pakenham. Munitions should be hard to beat in similar type races over the summer months.
WINSUM: impressive restricted winner at Pakenham. He shows plenty of promise and will be hard to beat next time.
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