Winners are grinners so the inaugural victor of the jockeys’ challenge, Craig Williams, was always going to enjoy the inaugural Rapid Racing day at Flemington on Sunday.
A last-race win for double points forced Williams into a tie on nine points with Jye McNeil but Williams was awarded the title on a countback as he lifted the metro jockeys team to a six-point victory – 43 to 37 – over their country counterparts.
The country riders led all day after winning the first three races but with double points on the line in the final event, Williams snared an unlikely win when he partnered Delusions to victory.
Williams said he was pleased the day introduced racing to a new crowd.
“We are happy to embrace concepts at the right time and people got out here and had a great day and that’s what we want,” Williams said.
“We want new people getting involved in racing and having a taste of what we love.”
After 10 races at The Valley on Friday night and nine more at Caulfield on Orr Stakes Day on Saturday, Williams said many of the riders were feeling it when they arrived at Flemington but were quickly whipped into action by AFL great Denis Pagan, the coach of the metro jockeys team.
“It’s been a pretty tough schedule for all participants in racing, this is the third city meeting in a row and it was hard getting out of bed this morning,” Williams said.
“All the jockeys have been feeling it and not just the jockeys – the trainers and the strappers as well.
“It was only when Denis walked in and gave us some motivation that we came alive. You could see all the spirits lifting.”
Mick Price and Michael Kent Jr were awarded the trainers’ prize after gathering seven points and winning on a countback from the Lindsay Park stable.
The VRC had catered for a crowd of 4000 and happily announced that 4092 people attended the first Rapid Racing meeting.
In contrast, the Group 1 meeting at Caulfield just 24 hours earlier had attracted 7578 patrons to the course.
Racing Victoria chief executive Giles Thompson said the concept of Rapid Racing was definitely worth a try and he was keen to review how the meeting had performed.
“The atmosphere is great down here – very relaxed,” Thompson said. “The racing is coming through thick and fast and there’s been some good stories around the country and metro (jockeys) so I’m really enjoying it.
“It’s great to try new things and there’s been plenty of feedback as well about the day and about the silks and the time of the day and we’ll take all of that on board. But, as a concept, the fundamentals are there, and it’s been a good day.
“We shouldn’t be afraid of trying new things. If we don’t try new things we won’t move forward and I am very keen for us to keep trying new things and I congratulate the VRC for having a crack at this.”
Article via Racing.com