Action in the betting ring on Grafton Cup Day.
Action in the betting ring on Grafton Cup Day.

#14: 'Jockey' shocks the betting ring

BOOKMAKERS have long been a feature of the July Racing Carnival with Grafton often noted for the size of its betting ring. In years gone by it was certainly no place for the faint-hearted during cup week.

But that is not to say the bookies have always been on the right side of the ledger. Clarence River Jockey Club's annual racing event has been the scene of some of the more audacious betting plunges in racing history. But there is one that rises above the field which came from the far reaches of country Victoria in the small dusty town of Benalla.

The unremarkable Zoom Power, trained by JG "Jockey" Griffiths journeyed to Grafton to tackle the 1964 Sir James Kirby Handicap over five furlongs, the final event on the program.

On arriving in Grafton, Griffiths told the locals he hailed from "Ned Kelly country" and that he had "another Phar Lap" ready to storm the Grafton track.

On viewing Zoom Power, the good local judges rated the four-year-old closer to Ma Kelly's cart horse than a fierce gelding and figured the trainer was around the twist.

It had been a long time between drinks for the chestnut gelding, after spending a year in the paddock following an unplaced start at Moonee Valley.

Bookmakers offered 12-1 about Zoom Power and, while he wasn't quite at the heights of the great Australain race horse, he was quickly backed into 4-1 and pulled off a plonk still recalled with reverence by racegoers of the time.

The gelding led all the way to win in track record time (58.8 seconds) and put a Cheshire smile on his trainer's face.

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