Armidale Jockey Club will stage its Barbarians Cox Plate Race Day on Saturday.
Club secretary manager Jim Dedes encouraged the community to come along to the event.
“The Cox Plate day is probably one of the great race days in Australia,” Dedes said.
“It is just a good day and a bit of a kick off for our racing season even though we were supposed to race in September.”
The Hunter and North West Racing attention then turns to Scone on Sunday, where Justin Drake, after recently returning to the training ranks, will start four-year old Fireman Sam I Am in the Buy A Turangga Yearling Benchmark 65 (1100m).
Three years ago Drake and his wife sold their farm at Muswellbrook, bought a caravan, packed up their children and headed off on a journey around Australia.
The trip lasted eight months and the couple so enjoyed it they were keen to go around again except that their eldest was ready to start school. Instead they bought a small farm near Scone, Drake took a job at Yarraman Park and talked a few mates into joining him in buying a horse called Fireman Sam I Am.
Racing is something that Drake has been involved in virtually his whole life, both as a trainer, breaker and pre-trainer.
“I became jaded and needed a break but eventually I started to miss parts of racing again,” he said.
“I have a good job, I will do some breaking and pre-training on our farm but training will just be a hobby. If I want to spend time at the weekends with the family I can.”
Fireman Sam I Am was originally trained by David Vandyke, won two races in succession at Nowra and Newcastle as a three-year-old and was aimed at last year’s Spring Stakes at Newcastle. However, he finished last after being well-backed, was spelled and switched to Bjorn Baker when Vandyke went north but failed to flatter in four starts since. He was put on the market after running sixth at Newcastle last month and bought by Drake.
“He is by I Am Invincible and I know a bit about the family so I thought we could have a bit of fun with him,” he said.
“This race is probably too short for him but he missed a trial when they were called off last week and he has to start somewhere.”
Meanwhile, Greg Bennett will start Mossman’s Gold in this race after his seventh over 1100 metres at the Port Macquarie Cup Carnival.
“Forget he went around,” he said. “He was drawn in close which did not suit him and every time Ben Looker went looking for a run he got squeezed out. He is far more suited on this bigger track.”
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