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Larkfield Estate St Pat's Yea Picnic Race Meeting

The annual Larkfield Estate St Pat’s Yea Picnic race meeting in the foothills of the Victorian high country takes place on the last Sunday of summer.  As one of the last picnic cups for the Victorian amateur season, the standard of racing is always highly competitive and the six race program ensured an afternoon full of excitement in a very relaxed setting. A world away from suits and high fashion as the 90 minute drive from Melbourne through wineries, farmland and forested areas delivered racegoers to a delightful country trackside setting where they could truly relax and enjoy the day.

Early victories on the day went to the Peter White trained Delightful Spirit in race 1, ridden by Leigh Taylor and the newly accredited high weights jockey Dylan Dean, aboard the Mick Sell trained Robin the Rich with the big weight of 66 kilos in the second event. Two kilos down on the original weight allocation given Dylan’s fast diminishing claim.  I had the pleasure to call Dylan Dean’s first race win at an Arabian race meeting last year as well as his father Colin Dean as a jockey nearly 20 years ago at King Island. It has been wonderful to watch various generations from the one family enjoying their riding.

The third race sponsored by Webb Pastoral was a little testing from my perspective as the race caller with just the three runners given scratchings on the day, however the efforts of trainer/jockey Geoff Brunsdon from Benalla in Victorian Kelly country, certainly made up for the pint size field.  A 14 length victory over 2100m’s for Geoff, riding his 4 year old mare - Burzali, previously with James Cummings as well as Grahame Begg who coincidentally trained the Blue Diamond at Caulfield the day before.  Only having 8 prior race starts and bred by Sir Patrick Hogan, Geoff had helped the mare regain her race confidence and put on a bold display in front of the crowd, opening up a tear away lead in the home straight.  A warm reception awaited the winning combination, Geoff reciprocating with a very entertaining acceptance speech as part of the race’s presentation.

Ruth Hargrave, always fashionable!

Club President, Leonard Sheahan on left with Mr Hanlon and jockey Dani Walker and daughter.

Larkfield Estate’s Frank Hargrave and Cup winning jockey Caitlin King

The feature event of the day was the Larkfield Estate, Yea St Pat’s Cup.  With the field featuring two previous Yea St Cups winners - Lardner Lou trained by Michelle Murray of Sale and Riley’s Rocket trained by Paul Kramer, I guessed we would have an exciting finish to the event and did we ever!  With the 2016 winner of the Cup, Riley’s Rocket drawn on the inside alongside of the 2017 winner - Lardner Lou it was on from the start of the race.  Quickly It Could Be You grabbed the lead early with Lardner Lou settling on the pace and Riley’s Rocket happy to settle mid field as he is known for his big finishes, running from behind!  Watch the attached video below thanks to to relive the action.  In a head bobbing conclusion, Lardner Lou just manages to hold off Riley’s Rocket in a thrilling finish.

Watch race 4 here

Earthling, trained by Bob Dwyer at Seymour provided Dani Walker with the first of her doubles in race 5 sponsored by Black Range Estate.  However Dani certainly wasn’t grounded as she flew down the home straight in the last event of the day aboard the ever gutsy Howling Wolf to victory with the incredible weight of 73 kilos to take race 6.  Watch Dani and Howling Wolf in the black silks stalk the leading horses and run away to victory in the video below.

Watch race 6 here

First time sponsorship from Larkfield Estate with the Yea St Pat’s Cup was greatly appreciated, as long standing support to the Yea community and the St Pat’s race club over many years has been provided by Frank Hargrave AO.  Frank a former St. Pat’s Race Club President, was delighted to be contributing again to the race club with his business Larkfield Estate and equally both the club and myself treasure his ongoing interest in the event and race meeting.  Some sixteen years ago,  Frank Hargrave and former club secretary Lorna Slavin, provided me with my first mainland Australian race meeting, that I have been broadcasting ever since.  An opportunity that I treasure post many small aircraft flights to the racetrack at King Island that was my previous venue.  Today the Yea St Pat’s Race Club is more like family for me and given the nature of the day and all those involved at the club, I am certain that feeling transpired to everyone that attended.

Enjoying the day, wherever you go trackside

A thoroughly fashionable line up!

Yea Pipe and Drums bank – always a winner!

Mounting yard

Hollowing Wolf returning to scale with jockey Dani Walker, winner of Race 6
over 1600m carrying 73 kilos! Sponsored by the Royal Mail Hotel in Yea.

Geoff Brunsdon trainer and jockey of Burzali entertaining everyone!

Over many years the St Pat’s Race Club has had a longstanding association with the local community of Yea and the surrounding district. The St Pat’s Race Club at Yea is a non for profit organisation and each year extends their support to various sporting, social and charitable organisations in Yea and the surrounding district such as the local football and netball clubs, Men’s Shed, the Yea scout and cubs, the Sacred Heart School and Parish, plus various other community groups that require financial support to keep servicing their beneficiaries.

A very special thank you to the Yea Race Club especially the president Denis Smith.  Denis was instrumental in the success of our race day and his ongoing support to the St Pat’s Race Club Yea is truly cherished.

It is the deeply entrenched sense of community support at Yea with the St Pat’s Race Club that has reached out to many people over several generations.  A fraternity that always comes together once a year on Cup day, with the backbone of their bond lasting well beyond the year ahead, in fact it never leaves you!

Lardner Lou the winner of the Larkfield Estate Yea St Pats cup in the pink driving to the finishing line defeating Riley’s Rocket on the inside.

The dining room

Leonard Sheahan Club President on left. Frank Hargrave AO, second on left. Winning Jockey of the Larkfield Pastoral – Yea St Pat’s Cup, 2018, Caitlin King and Mr C G Murray, representing winning trainer Michelle Murray.


Article written by Victoria Shaw

Photography by Alan Cole and Victoria Shaw




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