Super Saturday of Christmas racing
HORSE RACING:Gladstone’s Ferguson Park racecourse is getting into the Christmas spirit with a Family Fun Day, which has a special emphasis on children’s entertainment, planned for Saturday afternoon’s race meeting.
Gladstone Turf Club has a strong five-race card scheduled to start at 1.15pm but gates will open much earlier to accommodate patrons keen on a punt on the southern races with the strong bookmakers’ ring at Ferguson Park.
GTC president David Weinert said early online bookings for the race meeting were strong so the club was expecting a good crowd.
“The club has gone all out to make it quite an occasion for the kids,” he said.
“We have a lot planned to help occupy their time, thereby allowing their parents to have a good social day out at the races as well.
“There will be free novelty rides for the kids and something quite different in the fashion stakes in that Fashions on the Field will be for the kids.
“It is all planned around the spirit of Christmas and the festive season and that’s what the club has been working at.”
As is usually the case for Ferguson Park race meetings, horses are coming from far and wide such as Townsville in the north and Gympie in the south.
However for one trainer Bevan “Billy” Johnson, the road trip to Gladstone races with his team of seven horses will be akin to a walk in the park.
Johnson is in the middle of the process of the massive exercise of relocating his team of 30 horses from Miles to his new base at Bouldercome.
Instead of the 900km and 10-hour round trip from Miles, he will only have to travel 222km and be on the road for fewer than three hours to get his horses to the races and back on Saturday.
Johnson’s two starters in the first race, the Sewer Wizard Plumbing Class B (1194m), in Spot On and Chermside Lass are strong contenders in the most open race on the program.
His stable is represented by Punjabi Savitar in the second event, the Merry Christmas Maiden Plate (1000m), in which Lyn Petersen’s Mia Singa is favoured to win.
Johnson has a good chance with Alert by the Sea in the On the Bit Awards Feb 8 BM 60 (1000m) but Kevin Miller’s Absolute Bonza looks to be the winner of this race.
The fourth race, the Family Fun Day Open (850m), is going to be run at a scorching pace given the quality of the seven runners.
The Johnson stable will start Margot and Nicco’s Lass, which are genuine prospects, but with Boot Shaker and Ararrac in the field it is going to be a magnificent contest.
Last but not least on the Gladstone card at 4.15pm is the Cleanaway Benchmark BM 55 Handicap (1517m), which will be a real test for stamina given the high weights allotted to the top weights.
As is said in racing, if in doubt go for the top weight, which on this occasion is the Kevin Miller-trained Blue Seal handicapped on 63.5kg.
The next Gladstone race meeting is scheduled for February 29 but local racing fans will be well catered for at Calliope Jockey Club’s Boxing Day races on December 26.