VETERAN jumps trainer Eric Musgrove was shocked to hear of the sudden passing of Collingwood great Bill Picken at Hamilton on Saturday.
Picken, 66, who played 212 games of VFL-AFL footy, received numerous accolades from footy fans across Australia after the terrible news surfaced on Saturday evening, but Musgrove saw Picken in a different light - as a racing administrator. The father-of-four took over as the secretary of the Hamilton Racing Club in 1990 and held roles with Coleraine, Casterton and Dunkeld Racing Clubs plus the old South Western District Racing Association for more than 15 years.
"Bill's passing is a total shock," Musgrove said. "I like everyone else knew he was a top footballer, but I had a lot to do with him when he was secretary at Hamilton, Casterton and Coleraine Racing Clubs. The three clubs host jumps meetings and I was always talking to Billy. He was passionate about jumps racing and understood racing. He was always making sure there would be enough runners to run in the jumps races. I'll never forget when I was going to bring horses to Hamilton, Casterton or Coleraine Bill would be on the phone asking if I had stabling right or needed feed for the horses. Bill Picken was an enormous asset to the racing industry and it was a sad day when he decided to walk away from racing administration."
Picken's love of racing extended to him being in the ownership of a couple of horses.
Top jumper Big Blue has been retired after an unplaced run in a hurdle race at Casterton on Sunday.
Big Blue, who won five of his 12 jumps starts, including the 2019 Galleywood Hurdle at Warrnambool, was trained by Ciaron Maher and David Eustace.
"It's time Big Blue was retired," Maher said. "He's been a great horse for his connections. I think he had 18 starts for us, which resulted in six wins. I've got to rank his Galleywood Hurdle victory and his 2018 St Leger win at Randwick as great achievements but we also sent him on a jumps campaign overseas, but sadly everything never went to plan. We've already got people interested in looking after Big Blue for the rest of his life. He's a lovely natured horse and we'll find a good home for him."
The imported galloper was trained by top Sydney trainers John O'Shea and James Cummings before joining the Maher-Eustace stable in July 2018.
Crossley-trained galloper Mister Dynamix took his stake earnings to more than $120,000, with an impressive victory at Sandown last week. Mister Dynamix beat Jupitus and Free Flying Star to win the 1500-metre contest.
Veteran trainer Quinton Scott said Mister Dynamix had been an unruly horse early in his career and was only settling down now.
"Mister Dynamix has always shown ability but has failed to deliver on race day because of his racing manners," Scott said. "I've got to give all the credit to my stable staff for how Mister Dynamix is running. Mark Warren, Gina McDonald, Daniel Small and Holly Parks have all done sensational jobs. Mister Dynamix was very headstrong early in his career. He's taken time physically and mentally to focus on racing. I think taking him to the beach has done wonders with him. We're just giving him a day or two off before getting him ready for another nice race at Sandown on August 10."
The Warrnambool Racing Club resolved at its committee meeting last week that the program for its 2023 May racing carnival will remain unchanged. There had been speculation the Warrnambool Cup may be switched to the Wednesday and the Galleywood Hurdle changed to the Thursday. But club CEO Tom O'Connor said there will be no change from the winning formula of running the Grand Annual Steeplechase as race seven and the Warrnambool Cup as the ninth race on Thursday's program.
"The internal discussions and conversations were healthy to be having," O'Connor said. "It is important that the club continues to review and consider all aspects of the carnival, including the race day program. It was a good exercise to learn key industry considerations, including ensuring a healthy mixture of flat and jump races across each of the three days. The carnival means so much to so many and all agreed around the committee table that the club has a winning formula in place."
Warrnambool races again on August 2 and August 23 before an extended track renovation break.
Warrnambool trainer Symon Wilde is weighing up the options for his front-running jumper Elvison following his impressive victory in an open steeplechase at Casterton on Sunday.
Elvison, with New Zealand-born jumps jockey Aaron Kuru in the saddle, won the $60,000 race by more than five lengths and took his record around the picturesque Casterton jumps course to four wins from six starts. Wilde said he may tackle one or two of the jumps features that are left in this jumping season.
"I'm not sure what we'll do with Elvison," he said. "It was a brilliant win by the horse and a sensational ride by Aaron. He's got a wonderful understanding of Elvison. It's like poetry in motion watching them get over the live hedges at Casterton. We've got to consider races like the Crisp Steeplechase at Sandown on August 7 or the Great Western 'chase at Coleraine on August 17. My biggest concern about the Coleraine 'chase is he'll get a lot of weight in the race but we'll just wait and weigh up our options over the next week."
Elvison was the first leg of a winning double for Wilde at Casterton. His other winner was Weightman, who was ridden by Ronan Short in a maiden highweight on the flat.
SIGNAL: nice performance at his second run from a spell to run third in a maiden on Sunday. He should shake off his maiden status in the near future.
I AM WAR: top run at huge odds in running third at Caulfield. He looks an improving type and can be followed with confidence in sprint races in the future.
MAYFAIR SPIRIT: put the writing on the wall for another win with a third placing on Saturday. He will be better for that outing and should be competitive next time in his third run from a spell.
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