Local hero MASTER JAMIE will aim to extend his astonishing record on his home track when he defends his Rockhampton Cup (1600m) title on Saturday, 8 July.
The track specialist label doesn’t do justice to the 6YO gelding, who has missed a placing on just three occasions in his 27 starts at Rockhampton.
With 12 wins and 12 minor placings to his name the term horses for courses could have been coined for MASTER JAMIE, who raised the roof at Callaghan Park 12 months ago when he held off a swathe of local and interstate gallopers to take out the Rockhampton Cup.
The bold frontrunner has been winless since then but has been competing predominantly in Stakes races, registering back-to-back thirds at Doomben in autumn and finishing a fighting fifth two starts back behind Munhamek, who heads the betting markets for Saturday’s Listed Glasshouse Handicap.
His ‘catch-me-if-you-can’ tactics have certainly endeared Master Jamie to the racing public, and while he was unable to hold on for a 13th home track win last Sunday – eventually finishing second behind Indian Dreamer in the Tattersalls Gold Cup Open Handicap (1600m) – trainer and part-owner Graeme Green believes his stable star is going as well, if not better than this time last year.
“I couldn’t be happier with the horse. He had to carry 67.5 kilos on Sunday, so we had to give the winner 9.5 kilos and he didn’t have to go around another horse, so I was very proud of the old boy’s run from the wide barrier," said Green.
“It’s all systems go for the Rocky Cup, winning our hometown Cup was certainly a career highlight for me so hopefully we can have another good crack at it. It was a really special moment and one we’ll all remember for a very long time. The trophy takes pride of place on the mantelpiece, we were all so proud of him.
“He’s as honest as the day is long, and he wouldn’t know how to run a bad race anywhere but especially on his home track, where he just seems to grow another leg. The 600-metre home straight brings some horses undone, but he just seems to thrive on it. Not many horses can maintain a long sprint like he can, so it really plays to his strengths.
“He’s mellowed a bit in his old age, he tends to save his energy for the races now but he can still be a bit of a handful on raceday. He was bucking and squealing and playing up a bit on Sunday, I knew then he would run a race and hopefully he can carry that form into the Cup and give it a real good shake.”
However, Indian Dreamer and his in-form trainer-jockey combination could represent one of the biggest challenges to Master Jamie’s hopes of retaining his crown.
Indian Dreamer capped a super Sunday for Toby and Trent Edmonds when he brought up a treble for the stable, with his jockey Martin Harley – who had never ridden at Rockhampton before – enjoying an even better return with five winners from his six steers.
Speaking afterwards, Edmonds Senior revealed the long-range plan had been to take Indian Dreamer on the long journey north in order to get him into the Rockhampton Cup.
“We’ve always thought he would be a Rocky Cup type of horse,” he said.
“Even though he’s won at Doomben he much prefers room to gallop, so the wide open tracks suit him down to the ground. We look target the Rockhampton Carnival most years, so hopefully we can come back here and knock off a couple of races again.”
The two-day Carnival gets underway with Rockhampton Newmarket Day on Friday, 7 July, before the Cup – which was first run in 1918 – takes centre stage the following day.