PETER Snowden was the special guest of the Clarence River Jockey Club when it conducted its annual luncheon yesterday.
The Sydney trainer, who has won two Ramornie Handicaps with Pinwheel (2010) and Jerezana (2011), was a distinguished guest speaker yesterday.
Snowden was born and bred in Scone.
He started out as an apprentice jockey there and trained in Scone for six years before he went to Sydney to work as a stable foreman under Vic Thompson while they were setting up the famous Crown Lodge for brothers Jack and Bob Ingham.
After Bob Ingham sold that for $500 million to Darley, he stayed on for a few years before electing to move on last year into a training partnership with his son Paul.
They now have 66 horses in work at their Randwick base.
“I was just a country jockey – from humble beginnings,” Snowden said yesterday.
“But you never know where you’re going to end up.”
He always had a passion for racing but always recognises his roots.
“Born and bred in Scone,” he said.
“I always loved riding but got too heavy.
“I never thought I’d train but I was lucky enough the first horse I had won five straight.”
He has also been lucky enough to train or be involved with such horses as Octagonal, Lonhro and Sepoy and rates the likes of Freemason as giving him some great racing thrills.
More recently, the move to set up a training partnership with his son Paul has been a highlight and he is delighted with the way it has flourished,
He would also love to return to Grafton with some big race winners.
He’s won two Ramornies and “was beaten an inch” in last year’s Grafton Cup.
The luncheon follows the first two days of the annual five-meeting Cup Carnival which began last Thursday with the Grafton Cup Prelude.
That was won by Moonbi gelding Mullet Man.
The Ruth Cooper-trained four-year-old will now run in Thursday’s $150,000 Grafton Cup (2350m).
Grafton executive officer Michael Beattie reckons it is a perfect result.
Not just Mullet Man’s Prelude win and Grafton Cup start but that of John Carlton Cup winner Villamill, who is now guaranteed a start in tomorrow’s $150,000 Ramornie Handicap (1200m).
“I couldn’t be happier with the first day’s results,” Beattie said.
“Having the winners exempt from ballot in the two main races is what those lead-up races were designed for.
“To help local (country) horses make the Ramornie or Cup.
“Connections were very happy.
“I know Ruth is very bullish about Mullet Man’s chances.
“He’s now number one in order of entry but if he hadn’t won the Prelude he’d be 27th on the list and probably no chance of getting a run.”
Beattie was very happy with Sunday’s South Grafton Cup field too.
“It’s one of the best fields we’ve had for a few years. We couldn’t be happier with the responses so far.”
Myamira won the South Grafton Cup.
Mick Dittman was another guest speaker and the former top jockey returned to an area where he first raced as a young apprentice.
“I rode my first winner at Lismore,” Ditttman said.
“I rode here in the Northern Rivers for six months before I went home.”
He was the leading rider in Brisbane for more than a decade before he took up an offer to ride for Tommy Smith in Sydney where he rode many winners and had many major Group 1 successes for Smith.
Scone trainer Rod Northam also spoke after winning Sunday’s South Grafton Cup with Myamira.
“I’ll give her a break now and bring her back for the late spring,” he said.
“We might follow a similar pattern next year. Run her in the Dark Jewel at Scone an then go to Brisbane.”
Northam has another couple of good chances tomorrow with Big Money the $3.60 favourite for the $150,000 Ramornie Handicap (1200m) and last-start Tamworth winner Husswick a good chance in the $50,000 Grafton Guineas (1600m).
They both fared well in the barrier draws yesterday.
Tamworth Jockey Club races Friday and received 127 nominations for the program yesterday.
While Grafton’s July Racing Carnival ramps up with tomorrow’s Ramornie Handicap meeting, Tamworth Jockey Club stages an eight-race meeting on Friday.
It is headlined by a benchmark 70 1000m handicap as well as an open 2YO handicap over 1200m.
Tamworth received 127 nominations yesterday and has extended nominations on three of the races until 11am today – the B70 1000m, Class 3 1200m and Maiden 1000m.
The B70 1000m had just seven nominations yesterday - Beauzel (Sue Grills) 53, Chiliad (Nathan Doyle) 66, Double Five (Tom Ollerton) 58, Kalahari Princess (Mark Taylor) 58, Make Magic (Luke Berger), Tax Exemption (Luke Berger) and Valcot (Luke Griffith) 66.