TRIBUTE: The unveiling of Cessnock Racecourse’s tribute to “Bill the Bastard” and the walers ridden by the Australian Light Horse during World War I. Picture: Krystal SellarsTHE Jericho Cup will be a new feature on Cessnock’sAnzac Day program on Wednesday.
Newcastle Jockey Club is funding the2700-metre stayers’ race for the first time, giving the meeting a sixth event.
The Jericho Cup isnamed after the famous World War I staying race conducted near the Jordan River in 1918 and run over 4800m.
This war-time contest cunningly acted as a diversion for the opposing Turkish defences. It was famously won by legendary warhorse Bill The Bastard.
Cessnock’s 2018 version of the race, a Benchmark 50 Handicap, will start from the 900mmark and take in another lap of the course. A replica cup will be awarded to the winning connections.
Last Anzac day, a memorial to the walers, which were ridden by the light horseman in the World War I, was unveiled. A life-size statue of Bill The Bastardstands at the track and celebrates the incredible achievements of man and beast during the Middle East campaigns.On Wednesday, family of the late Major Michael Shanahan will be guests of the NJC at Cessnock Racecourse.
Shanahan was Bill The Bastard’s only rider and closest companion during the war. The horse famously savedShanahan’s life after he was wounded in combat.
Anzacday activities at the racecourse will include Two-Up, the Last-Post Anzac Day memorial ceremony, a band and free kids’ entertainment throughout the day.
The cost of admissionis $10, however by going to the Newcastle Racecourse website, racegoers can secure two admission tickets for the price of one.
Cessnock trainers Jeremy Sylvester and John Bannister, who have saddled up winners in recent weeks, are primed for the day.
Sylvester’s four-year-old Settlers won his second race when successful at Tamworth on March 26.
Last Sunday, Jackknife, trained by Bannister, won his third race at Wellington.