OFF AND RACING: Royal Fusilier, pictured with rider Shane McGovern, has strong claims in the Class 1 (1000m) at Ferguson Park racecourse today.
OFF AND RACING: Royal Fusilier, pictured with rider Shane McGovern, has strong claims in the Class 1 (1000m) at Ferguson Park racecourse today. Allan Reinikka Rokaracing

Strong line-up for local five-race card at Cox Plate

GLADSTONE'S Ferguson Park racecourse will offer a unique atmosphere on Saturday to coincide with one of Australia's biggest race meetings - the Cox Plate in Melbourne.

No fewer than 10 races with a staggering $4.54 million in prize money are on offer at Moonee Valley, Melbourne where Australia's best racing flesh is on display.

That gala meeting is a huge lure for local racing fans desirable of being part of the action at Ferguson Park where a large ring of bookmakers will be working.

With the first race in Melbourne timed for 11.10am, the gates at Ferguson Park will open early to accommodate patrons wanting to "get on" with the bookies.

Locally a five-race card is on offer but it will be no pushover for punters as winners look well disguised.

Timed for 1.30pm, the opening Ferguson Park race is the Maiden Plate (850m) which looks a puzzling affair.

The best chances appear as the Dennis Schultz-trained Azahara (Kelly Gates) and Dale Wright's Bundaberg-trained Snitzel gelding Full Turn (Shayla Quick).

Purchased by Wright's good contact, the leading Newcastle trainer Paul Perry for $42,500 as a yearling, Full Turn has run six placings over short courses around the Hunter Valley district.

On Saturday his biggest obstacle is the wide draw but provided he jumps cleanly from the barrier, Full Turn will be very hard to beat.

Brothers-in-law, the Rockhampton trainer Clint Garland and jockey John Stephens should be celebrating after the running of the second event, the Class 3 Plate (1194m).

They combine with Buffering's close relative Suite Annie (Hotel Grand-Action Annie), a winner at Ferguson Park in March at her only start on the track.

The Callaghan Park, Rockhampton combination of trainer Ross Shannon and jockey Dennis Whitmore have strong claims in the Class 1 (1000m) with Royal Fusilier.

Hardest for them to beat is another Rocky horse French Garrison to carry Alexandra Kitson who has ridden the John Crane trained gelding previously when placed on the dirt at Middlemount in August.

The main event, the BM 70 (1000m) looks a lottery but if he makes the long haul from Roma, the trainer Craig Smith's Speeding Dragon should win.

However, Raymond West's Callaghan Park trained Liberty Tycoon and Lindsay Challacombe's Tropic Gem will also be in the fray for a long way.

Premier Gladstone jockey Adrian Coome's best winning chance on the card is the Darryl Gardiner trained Redwin in the last race at 4.30pm.

The Gladstone Turf Club will also race at Ferguson Park on Melbourne Cup Day being Tuesday week.