BIRTHDAY BASH: From left: Gary McCormick, Eddie Clack and trainer Bruce Swan with horse ?Skinz Hope? who will be carrying the h
BIRTHDAY BASH: From left: Gary McCormick, Eddie Clack and trainer Bruce Swan with horse ?Skinz Hope? who will be carrying the h

Forgotten? horse new Hope

Racing by Tony White

twhite@dailyexaminer.com.au

POPULAR Grafton identity Ron Skinner and close mates Garry McCormick and Ed Clack hope to celebrate the variety bash car's birthday in style at Grafon races today.

The trio are part-owners of five-year-old gelding Skinz Hope who will line up in the Australian Idol Class 2 Hcp (1000m).

Trained by Bruce Swan in Grafton, and to be ridden by leading North Coast jockey Peter Graham, Skinz Hope has 56.5kg, but plenty more in weight of expectations.

The affable Skinner wouldn't admit to his real age suffice to say, according to his mates, it's into the 60s.

"Mate it will be a good day regardless of the outcome," Skinner said.

"It will just be great to celebrate another birthday with friends and nice if Skinz Hope can win for all of us."

Skinz Hope was a forgotten horse, literally.

The gelding roamed a paddock in Glen Innes for several years, simply living off the fat of the land.

Skinner had three horses in the tablelands and it wasn't until someone rang him and reminded Skinner he had three horses 'getting fat in the paddock' that his memory was jogged.

Brought back to a property in Grafton, Skinner invited McCormick, a local pest controller and Clarence River Jockey Club director, to have a look at Skinz Hope and another gelding with a view to going into partnership to race one of them.

"Both horses had come into the paddock from the hills and there was an athletic looking black gelding and a fat grey gelding," McCormick said.

"The old grey horse was there chewing away on grass and looked like a bit of a hack but there was something about him I liked. He looked like he could develop into something.

"I sort of tossed a coin and settled on the grey, but nearly baulked when Ronny said he was a five-year-old. The age was a bit of a concern."

McCormick has shared in around 11 thoroughbreds over his racing career.

"If Skinz can come up to the standard of Silver Saga (winner of 11 races) and Bever Creek (9 races), I'd be over the moon but I'm lucky to have an association with Ronny and I'm thankful to him for bringing us into the horse.

"It would be sensational to see Skinz Hope win on Ronny's birthday, for him as well as Ed and I."

South African-born Clack, or 'Eddie The Eagle' to his mates, is a co-proprietor of Clack and Walsh Optometrist's.

Clack's previous foray into racehorse ownership was with North Star Beauty, a winner of one race at Ballina.

"It's Ronny's day and we're all hoping for a good run from Skinz Hope," Clack said. "We'll be rooting for Ronny and Skinz.

"I'm sure it will be a great day no matter what happens. We've had plenty of fun so far."

Skinz Hope has had four starts for a win at his home track and two placing's. The John's Hope gelding resumes today after a 41-day lay-off.



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