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Crowds flock to Yeppoon for Country Cups qualifier

By Kobie O'Brien

Yeppoon Turf Club president Gary Hall has described his club’s Newmarket race day on November 3 as the biggest since he’s been involved in the club and praised his volunteers and committee members for having the track in sensational order.

About 3000 punters flocked to the track to witness a strong five-race card, including the Yeppoon Newmarket, which doubled as a leg of the Country Cups Challenge qualifiers.

Wet conditions early in the week threatened to put a dampener on celebrations. However, the track remained in-tact with horses racing on a Good 3 surface.

And, the racing didn’t disappoint.

Strong TAB form was present across all races, highlighted by one of the strongest fields yet in the Country Cups qualifier, featuring Cleveland Bay winner Heartbreak Harry, Gold Coast Horse of the Year Malkara, Turkey Beach and Green Empire.

Hall was delighted with the Country Cups concept, highlighting the Racing Queensland initiative as one of the driving forces behind the strong nominations.

“That’s something we’ve been striving for, to get a race like that here in Yeppoon,” he said.

“That was a really tough, strong field. We were very happy with the noms today but the class of the Newmarket was up there with one of the best.”

The Yeppoon Turf Club will now look to build on this success in 2019.

The club is determined to secure TAB meetings and potentially, a Battle Of The Bush series qualifier.

With such strong nominations from the region for the 1600m race, the club is hoping Yeppoon could also attract Capricornia’s best sprinters for a potential qualifying race.

“Now we are part of this series, who knows we may become part of the sprint series as well,” Hall said.

“This race was only run over 1400m and the final is 1600m.

“But who knows, we could even swap our dates around and call today’s race the Yeppoon Cup. There’s nothing to say we can’t swap the Newmarket to earlier in the year (for the Battle of the Bush Sprint series) and move the Yeppoon Cup to this day.”

The Bevan Johnson-trained Artie’s Shore was convincing when winning the Yeppoon Newmarket and in doing so, booked his place to run at Doomben on December 1 alongside stablemate Fab’s Cowboy.