Craig and Hoff wins Bendemere Cup

Racing in Roma for 2024 returned to Bassett Park on Saturday February 17th as the Roma Turf Club held its annual Sydeva Haulage Bendemere Cup programme. A good crowd turned out for the 5 race card, which featured a winning double to jockey Amy Graham and trainer Wayne Baker as well as the presentation of the Club’s 2023 Jockey and Trainer Premiership awards.

The annual day is a special one for the Roma Turf Club as it acknowledges an important part of the region’s history dating back to when the Club was formed from the amalgamation of the district’s previous racing groups the Returned Soldiers Club, the Hibernian and Wallumbilla Race Clubs following the opening of the all-weather sand track racecourse at Bassett Park in 1969. Saturday’s meeting not only honoured the memory of some great supporters of the R.T.C. and country racing in general in Rex and Catherine Smith and Rodney Hoffman, but also paid tribute to the communities of Pickanjinnie and Muggleton in the Bendemere district.

The day’s action kicked off with the Wayne Baker-trained Bag Of Whitt winning the Pickanjinnie BM60 handicap by a length over Country Boyz and Sequacious a further 2¼ lengths away in third in a time of 52.51 for the 900 metre sprint. Jockey Amy Graham had the Whittington gelding sitting on the rail just behind the early leaders before finding a split at the home turn to take the lead in the straight, and score from the fast-finishing Country Boyz with Sequacious and race favourite Nutso coming down the outside fence.

Photo: Bag Of Whitt wins the Pickanjinnie BM60 900m

Jockey Sophie Wilcock made a successful return to Bassett Park to take out the race named in her honour, the Muggleton & Sophie Wilcock BM50 handicap of 1200 metres. Having its first start for the Charleville stable of William Pugsley, Transceltic never moved off the running rail to give Wilcock a long-neck victory over Deep Millions and White Chocolate a head away in third in a tight finish. Formerly based in Roma, Wilcock made the move to the South-East last year to further her racing career and made the trek back out west to receive her award as the Roma Turf Club’s leading jockey for 2023. Last year, the Roma Turf Club announced new Jockey and Trainer Premierships based on the calendar year as opposed to the racing season of August to July with points awarded at all R.T.C. meetings in 2023, with Wilcock receiving the prize of 5 nights accommodation at the Novotel Brisbane Airport courtesy of the Brisbane Airport Hotels Group. Despite having made the move and unable to ride at the last 3 meetings of the year, Wilcock had accumulated enough points at the Club’s first 5 meetings in 2023 to hold off rivals Amy Graham and Shannon Apthorpe to secure the Premiership.

Photo : Transceltic wins the Muggleton/Sophie Wilcock BM50 1200m

Everyone loves to see a Grey in full flight, and first-starter One Last Trick didn’t disappoint winning the Brandon & Associates/Rex & Catherine Smith Memorial QTIS maiden plate of 1000 metres. Jockey Liv O’Donnell took the Scott Rodgers-trained gelding straight to the lead and was never headed, defeating Lipstick Lies by 2¼ lengths with Artopia a short-half head away in third in a time of 59.64.

Photo : One Last Trick wins the Brandon & Associates/Rex & Catherine Smith Memorial QTIS Maiden Plate 1000m

Amy Graham and Wayne Baker combined for their second win of the day with Catalyse, winning the SQS Rodney Hoffman Memorial Class B of 1000 metres. Graham quickly jumped to the lead on Catalyse and was able to dictate terms in front leading all the way defeating Opaquely by 1¾ lengths with the winner’s stablemate Murphy’s River 1¾ lengths back in third place in a time of 59.39. Successful at the Club’s Christmas meeting in December, Catalyse made it back-to-back wins on the Bassett Park sand and with the win on Catalyse, Amy Graham brought up win number 50 of her riding career. Graham only commenced riding in September 2022, and statistics show she has quickly brought up the milestone of 50 wins along with 136 placings from just 325 career rides.

Photo : Catalyse wins the SQS Rodney Hoffman Memorial Class B 1000m

The day’s feature event, the Sydeva Haulage Bendemere Cup of 1000 metres saw the Craig Smith stable quinella the race with Craig And Hoff just edging out stablemate Deference by a short-half head with Limited Reality ¾ of a length third in 59.04. Apprentice Jacob Golden took Deference to the lead down the centre of the home straight and looked to have the Cup all sewn up, but jockey Adam Sewell was able to surge through between the placegetters on Craig And Hoff to get the Real Saga across the line. Following the race, Smith was presented with his award as the Club’s leading trainer for the 2023 Premiership and received a trip for 2 to the Victoria Derby during the Melbourne Cup Carnival at Flemington in November courtesy of Ambassador Travel.

Photo : Craig And Hoff wins the Sydeva Haulage Bendemere Cup 1000m

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Race replays courtesy of Racing Queensland and Regional Cast

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