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Horse Racing Australia Team Visits the 2009 Jungle Juice Cup at Cessnock

The Berry boys are popular with punters, trainers and girls and is it any wonder?

Jockeys Nathan & Tom Berry
Above: Nathan & Tom Berry in Jockey Room- Jungle Juice 2009 (Photo by Prue Hawkins)

Tommy, the more talkative one is on the right, so that must be Nathan on the left but hang on, was that the photographers right or their right? It doesn’t matter. The point is that both boys, and even though they are 18 they are still apprentices, even though they have already outridden their allowances in the country and are down to just 2kgs in the city.

They both ride for top Newcastle trainer Paul Perry and they say they get on very well and are also doing well on his horses. Tommy tells us they always drive to the course together and wager between themselves on who buys the milkshakes on the way home, depending on their daily point score.

Jungle Juice Cup day is a great experience and they are impressed with the feel of the day. Tommy tells us that the downhill run in the straight can be a trap for punters as horses new to the course and particularly 2yos can be averse to the slope and tend to pull up a bit. “Most of the jockeys tend to take off at the 600 metres here but I prefer to look for inside runs and save my ride for the run to the post.”

There is only ½ a kg difference in riding weights at 50.5 and 51kgs and although they don’t have too many problems with their weight a regular session in the sweatbox keeps it in check.

Bethany Honeysett still has the advantage of 2kgs allowance and being very lightly framed will never have a weight problem even though she strongly prefers good Italian meals as her favourite. And how things have changed for apprentices? Bethany has her own manager and lives in her own place in Sydney and drives each day to Warwick Farm to ride work for trainer Billy Prain. Her apprenticeship, now in its third year is with Gwenda Markwell at Kembla Grange but she is on loan to Billy to give her more opportunities for Metropolitan rides where she is keen to tell us she already has a couple of good wins on Auckland Rose.

Jockey Bethany Honeysett
Above: Bethany Honeysett- Jungle Juice 2009 (Photo by: Prue Hawkins)

Bethany was a keen Pony Club member before she started work as a stable hand just to be around horses. Friends advised her to try out as a jockey due to her small size and everything is working out as planned and she sees herself being in the business for a long, long time.

Timothy Bell, apprenticed to Sue Grills at Tamworth is only 16 but he gave an eloquent speech in accepting his trophy as the winning rider of the Jungle Juice Cup. The ride was pretty good too. He was disappointed his ride Ollie Vollie was scratched but luck went his way when local trainer Robert (Pud) Davies got a start with fourth emergency Afforestation and offered Timothy the ride. The good draw and Tim’s ride was all it took for the local horse to get home.

Trainer Robert Davies with winning Jockey Timothy Bell
Above: Winning Trainer Robert Davies with winning Jockey Timothy Bell (Photo by: Prue Hawkins)

Afforestation had 48 starts for just three previous wins but the key to it all was that only five of those runs were at Cessnock for two wins and a place. That’s pretty good form and his last win was this course and distance by two lengths three weeks previous.

Steve Hodge, seen here with connections, trained Go Gus, another horse with good Cessnock form which finished third in the race at 50/1. His record was three starts at Cessnock for a win and a place.

Steve Hodge & Connections
Above: Trainer Steve Hodge and connections (Photo by: Prue Hawkins)

The races could not go ahead without the support Staff. We talked to Sarah Hess, who works as a stable hand for the Kris Lees stable in Newcastle. People like Sarah are the unsung heroes although for the first time there was a stable hands trophy to be won at the Jungle Juice Cup.

Sarah’s day starts at 4.30 a.m. and consists of mucking out the stables, feeding the horses, leading those horses that are doing track work down to the track, taking other horses for an early morning swim and so on.

Sarah Hess
Above: Sarah Hess- Stablehand Lees Racing (Photo by: Prue Hawkins)

It is generally after nine before a break for breakfast then a return to work from 2 to 4.30 or so. Needless to say her working day and the early rises put paid to late nights out but Sarah is happy with her role where she has been for just over a year. She tells us that it is generally a happy work place with a good lot of people to work with and Kris himself is a very good boss. The work is constant with a rostered day off every two weeks.

The rewards of her position are simply hanging out with the horses, which she loves, and although she enjoys horse riding admits she could never be confident riding her highly strung charges. Sarah is pictured here with one of her charges Can’t Touch Me which ran in the first.

Racing would have no funding at all if it weren’t for the punter. Les “they call me seconds” Woods has come down from Singleton where he is an olive grower. Les is one of those rare breed who still prefer to be on course for his punting as he follows the bookies boards and does comparisons with the tote. He also attends the Newcastle races quite regularly and it is his day out.

Les Woods
Above: Les Woods (Photo by: Prue Hawkins)

Les reckons 'Horse Racing Australia Magazine' is a good read and he enjoys the articles that help the punter to win. Today he hopes to “not run second this time” but win or lose he enjoys the racecourse atmosphere

Alan Makin is another man that Racing can’t do without.  He fields at Newcastle every meeting without fail and it is in his blood. He is hoping for a good day today at Cessnock but wins by favourites have ruined his book early in the peace and turnover and the crowd are down on last year. A credit punter runs by and hits every bookmaker on Tears To Laughter, Tommy Berry’s mount in the fifth, which shrinks from $8 into $6 in a matter of minutes as punters “follow the money trail”. All is lost however as rank outsider Lord Verde streaks away at 50/1. The bookmakers keep the lot, and it is not the last “blowout” of the day.

Alan Makin's Bagman
Above: Alan Makin's Bagman keeping a tight hold (Photo by: Prue Hawkins)

Garry Robinson and Brian Reardon, the Jockey Club Chairman (seen here at the Jungle Juice Cup presentation) met up for a discussion on the state of Racing in NSW. Brian and Garry both ran for the committee election in the early nineties, Brian getting up by a handful of votes. Garry decided to stay on the punters side of things while Brian has been there now for over 17 years.

Brian Reardon
Above: Brian Reardon -Newcastle Jockey Club Chairman (Photo By: Prue Hawkins)

Garry points out that Racing NSW treats punters with disdain while Brian admits that the problem is that all factions in NSW tend to look at it from their own perspective and what it needs is for someone with vision to look at the lot from an outsider’s point of view. There is no doubt that NSW Racing is behind the more progressive States like Victoria where the hard decisions have been taken and Queensland where at least they have a vision and a plan for the future.

And don’t forget the racegoers themselves. Yes there are a few partygoers like these people who are all having a good time in their own way but without them the grounds would be deserted, left to owners and trainers and a few desperate punters.

Jungles Juice Cup Day was not as busy as it could have been with the economy and the weather both playing a part but the Racing was good and the nearly 4,000+ patrons had a wonderful time and so did we in reporting it to you.


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