Top jockey nears 4000-win mark

ROBERT Thompson moved within four wins of the 4000 winners mark at Taree yesterday.

Robert Thompson is four short of the 4000 barrier after a winner at Taree yesterday. Here he returns to scale after winning Sunday’s Mornington Handicap at Tamworth.  
Photo: Barry Smith 270414BSG12

Robert Thompson is four short of the 4000 barrier after a winner at Taree yesterday. Here he returns to scale after winning Sunday’s Mornington Handicap at Tamworth. Photo: Barry Smith 270414BSG12

The “King of the Coalfields” went close when beaten by Tamworth Cup-winning jockey Dale Spriggs in race five.

A race later and Thompson piloted the Darren Smith-trained Unencumbered to victory in the Hygain Tracktorque Benchmark 55 Handicap.

The three-year-old gelding son of More Than Ready raced to a length and a half win from Fine Drop with Fun For Indy third.

Last Sunday’s Tamworth Cup meeting had also thrown up a winner for Thompson.

It proved a good day for Cessnock-based Thompson and his good mate, Cessnock trainer Jeremy Sylvester.

They combined to win the $25,000 Sean Hofman Electrical Mornington Handicap (2100m), cruising to an easy four and three quarter length length victory with Collar.

Sylvester bought the  five-year-old gelding at the Gold Coast Spring Thoroughbred Sales last September for $5000 in what can now be described as a bargain buy after picking up first prizemoney  of $14,410 for his Tamworth win.

Collar was placed twice over staying distances at Eagle Farm and Doomben (Queensland) earlier this month, adding further value to the purchase.

Sylvester trains Collar for his wife Caroline and children, Jack and Lucy.

Sunday’s win took his prizemoney earnings to $184,938, although the major portion was built up through early career successes down south when trained by Robert Hickmont for  prolific-winning owner Lloyd Williams.

Speaking to some media after the race, Thompson said he felt like he was on a runaway train as Collar surged away from the field about 800m out.

Thompson has now ridden 3996 winners and will have the chance to increase that at Muswellbrook on Friday when he’ll ride either Sly Lu or Hot Rhythm for Tamworth trainer Mark Mason in the $20,000 Arrowfield Sprint (1000m).

“Robert will ride whichever one starts,”  Mason said last night.

“One of them will run at Muswellbrook and the other at Gunnedah (in the 1000m Lightning on Mother’s Day). 

“I just haven’t decided which one yet. I’ll wait and see what the weather does.”

Yesterday Sly Lu received 58.5kg in the feature sprint, third topweight behind Floral Insight (64kg) and Jest Crewsin’ (60kg).

Hot Rhythm received 56kg, the same as Jeremy Sylvester’s Quirindi Lightning winner Youthful King.

Mason said it would be “nice to be the trainer of the horse Roberts wins his 4000th race on”.

“Both mine are working well,” Mason said.

“They worked along together on Monday morning and went as good as each other.

“Robert also galloped Sly Lu here after the last meeting (before Sunday’s Cup) and was happy with him. 

“Sly Lu also won his trial at Armidale.

“Neither likes a soft track though and there is a bit of rain predicted.”

Sly Lu, he said, had also won the Lightning at Gunnedah “about three years ago”.

“It would be nice to win that again too,” the laconic trainer said.

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