Last Friday, from the sanctity of the Royal Oak Hotel in North Fitzroy, Bob, Simon, and myself prepared for the big journey over the border, deep into the Riverina; our destination, Ardlethan. This sleepy town, population in the 2006 census, was 379, unsure if it has grown since, is the renowned birthplace of the legendary Aussie working dog, the Kelpie. It also has an annual picnic race meeting, for which we were heading.
Off we drove, on our big journey. Along the way we stopped at Tungamah hotel, for a refresher. Lo and behold we discovered Peter Chisnall was the publican. Peter recruited from Corowa, played for North Melbourne, also turned out for Sandringham in the VFA . A coaching career followed , including a season with Port Melbourne. We had a good natter followed covering footy, familes from Corowa, and a range of intrigung topics. Peter brought out his 1975 premiership medal for us to peruse. He still looks fit, and footy memories from the 70’s were rekindled amongst us.
Arriving in Ardlethan we settled in to the London Hotel, which turned on the hospitality. The next morning, Saturday, followed, a nice temperate day, with the temperature in the high 20’s. Off to the course , for the 54th running of the Ardlethan Cup. A big crowd from around the region turned out to enjoy this 6 race picnic meeting. What did the day hold ? Who would salute? The first was at 1-55 pm, by which point the anticipation was building.
The Cup was run at 4-05. Dramas preceded its running with Rhythmic Chimes misbehaving in the mounting yards, and being scratched on vets advice. An 8 horse field competed in the Cup, which was won in a tight finish by Distinctly Sports, trained at Narrandera by Peter Bloomfield, ridden by Rebeka Prest. Second was the Wayne Carrol trained Bayonet Charge. These two horses had come 1, 2 in the 2012 Ardlethan Cup, though Bayonet Charge won that day. Wayne Carrol is the former Sydney Swans player, turned Wagga based horse trainer. Its jockey Wataru Shimamura has an interesting way of having his pants marked for indentification. As you’d be aware Hoops have their names written on the legs of their pants. Wataru has Kanga on his left leg, with Japanese lettering on his right leg .
Honours for the day go to the Cup winning combination of Bloomfield, and Prest, both having 2 winners. Wagga trainer Trevor Sutherland took the most points in the SDRA trainers award. He brought a large team across, with a winner, 2 seconds and a third to show for it. An interesting winner in the fifth was Soward, a horse trained in Leeton by Peter Clancy. Though it was the class horse of the field it was quite a while since it did anything, so its easy win was some what of a suprise.
Post race we were off to the Ardlethan bowling club for some tucker, and in the trophy cabinet is a photo of one of the towns finest, Greg Smith, former Sydney, and Victorian winger. From there off to the sights of Junee, and Cootamundra, but that’s another story.