Big Duke connections line up second shot at Sydney Cup

STRONG: Craig Williams takes Big Duke to victory in the Chairman's Handicap at Randwick on April 1. Pictures:
STRONG: Craig Williams takes Big Duke to victory in the Chairman's Handicap at Randwick on April 1. Pictures:

Newcastle Jockey Club will stage the popular Anzac Day race meeting at Cessnock Racecourse on Tuesday.

The race meeting will support Soldier On - helping our wounded warriors.

In a tribute to the men, women and horses who served our country, a special memorial dedicated to the “Walers” used by the Light Horsemen in World War 1 will be unveiled.

There will also be a ceremony to acknowledge the roles horses and jockeys played in the war.

Racegoers are invited to give a gold coin donation to Soldier On.

Gates open at the racecourse at noon with a courtesy bus to and from the Cessnock Leagues Club available for patrons. Two Up will be held from 12.30-2.30pm and VENUS Music will provide entertainment throughout the afternoon.

There will be a Free Kids Zone with a jumping castle, face painting and other rides. NJC will provide a free sausage sizzle to all servicemen and women.

Cost of admission is $10 on the day, however NJC is offering a buy one get one free deal to any person who books online before Monday, April 24. Book online at

There will be five races on the program and Cessnock Hall of Fame inductee jockey Robert Thompson is expected to ride at the meeting.

Meanwhile, NJC has announced that the famous Jungle Juice Cup and Cessnock Cup meetings will not be run in the winter of 2017. The Jungle Juice Cup will be held on Friday, October 13 and the Cessnock Cup on Friday, November 24.

Sydney Cup decision unfair

Australian Bloodstock think it’s unfair to re-open entries for the rescheduled Sydney Cup (3200 metres) on Saturday but they do not believe it will stop their favourite, Big Duke, from winning the $2 million race at Randwick.

Big Duke was favourite for the April 8 Sydney Cup, which was abandoned mid-race after Almoonqith broke down and his jockey, James Doyle, was left injured on the track just past the winning post the first time around. 

The group 1 was rescheduled and Racing NSW allowed new entries, which led to nominations growing to 16 with the addition of Boom Time, Harlem, Lasqueti Spirit, Rock On and Self Sense for the 14-horse event.

Australian Bloodstock director Luke Murrell believed the decision to allow new entries was “not just unfair for us but for all who paid up the first time”. 

Murrell was thankful Big Duke come through the first Sydney Cup run uninjured.