The long-term future of the Haymes Paint Jericho Cup (4600m), which celebrates its fourth edition at Warrnambool this Sunday, has been assured with Racing Victoria (RV) to assume sole responsibility for the $300,000 prize fund from 2022.
Thanks to the generous contributions of philanthropist Bill Gibbins, founder of the race which honours the bravery of the Australian Light Horse brigade and their mounts during World War One, the Jericho Cup has enjoyed great success and become a popular fixture on Victoria’s racing calendar since its inauguration in 2018.
In acknowledgement of Gibbins’ significant support over the first four editions of Australasia’s longest flat race, which was won in 2020 by Warrnambool trainer Symon Wilde with Count Zero, from next year RV will underwrite all prizemoney payments from the $150,000 first prize down to $4,000 for the 14th horse to finish.
“This announcement is a very important step in safeguarding the future of the Jericho Cup for the Warrnambool Racing Club and Victorian racing,” said RV’s Executive General Manager – Racing, Greg Carpenter.
“In its short history, the Jericho Cup has already captured the imagination of the racing public and that is largely due to the tireless efforts of its founder, Bill Gibbins. Bill is the architect of the Jericho Cup and will continue to be the face of a race which has firmly established its place on the Australasian racing calendar, with qualifying races now conducted right across Australia and New Zealand.
“On behalf of everyone at Racing Victoria, I would like to thank Bill for his extraordinary contribution over the past three years and congratulate him for making the Jericho Cup a huge success. I look forward to thanking Bill in person at Warrnambool this Sunday on what promises to be another memorable running of the Jericho Cup.”
Tom O’Connor, Chief Executive Officer of Warrnambool Racing Club, added: “It is fantastic to have the future of the Haymes Paint Jericho Cup secured by Racing Victoria. This support is a testament to all the hard work put into the Jericho Cup by Bill Gibbins and his wife Iolanda, and the Warrnambool Racing Club looks forward to continuing to work with Bill and Racing Victoria to further grow this great race meeting.”
The field for the 2021 Jericho Cup, which is open to Australasian-bred horses only, was released on Tuesday with 14 starters and four emergencies declared including runners from New Zealand, New South Wales and South Australia alongside the local contingent.
Grand National Hurdle winner and 2020 Jericho Cup placegetter Wil John carries topweight of 70kg and is one of two runners for the leading stable of Ciaron Maher and David Eustace.
Their other runner is New Zealand import Heberite who is owned in the same interests as the stable’s 2019 Jericho Cup winner Ablaze and has won three of his five Australian starts since crossing the Tasman in July.
Fresh from saddling up his first Lexus Melbourne Cup runner, trainer Symon Wilde has two chances to go back-to-back in the Jericho Cup with Beachgoer and American in Paris, both horses he shares in the ownership of with a number of Warrnambool residents.
Jockey Luke ‘Stumpy’ Williams celebrated a career highlight piloting Count Zero to victory in last year’s Cup and Megan Dunseath will be hoping to provide a similar fairytale story this year. A veteran of just 15 race rides, 27-year-old Dunseath heads into Sunday’s feature event aboard Allaboutattitude in search of her first career win.
The remaining fields for Sunday’s Warrnambool meeting, including a $60,000 Jericho Cup Consolation (4065m), will be finalised on Thursday with acceptances due at 9.30am (AEDT).
The 2021 Jericho Cup field
Count Zero and Luke Williams winning the 2020 Jericho Cup, picture Racing Photos