Tempting prize for Kiwi stayers Tue, 21 Mar 2017
Connections of New Zealand-bred horses deep on stamina will have a lucrative Australian target to aim at next year.
The Jericho Cup has been revived in its centenary year and will be run over 4600 metres at Warrnambool in November, 2018, for a stake of A$300,000.
The event is the brainchild of Melbourne racing enthusiast Bill Gibbins and is dedicated to the Australian Light Horse and their Middle East contribution during World War I.
"The Jericho Cup is limited to Australasian-bred horses, but the remaining programme is open to all comers," Gibbins said. "This will not be a centenary event, then forgotten about for another 100 years. It will be an annual event that can grow to be an Australian icon."
Approaching the end of the WW1, the Australian Light Horse were planning a major offensive against the Turkish Empire. In order to lull the enemy into believing nothing unusual was afoot, a race meeting was organised on the eve of the assault.
The main event was The Jericho Cup over three miles through the desert and won by Bill The Bastard.
"A friend of my wife's always calls me Bill The Bastard, a term of endearment I can assure you, and she gave me the book – I couldn't believe it all happened," Gibbins said. "It was a great read and we need to honour it. I've been a racing tragic since I went to the 1959 Melbourne Cup and backed the winner.
"I've also been going to Warrnambool for 35 years and it all ties in, the Jericho Cup has to be there. It will be a spectacular event to see."
The Cup will be a Benchmark 90 event with qualification on a points basis for the first three Australasian-bred horses home in lead-up races of 3000 metres or more. Double points will be scored in specified events in Melbourne, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and Wagga.
In New Zealand, the Chalmers Premier at Trentham and the 3210-metre race at New Plymouth are also likely to be included with the winners earning automatic entry.