Grafton race in honour of 'Moose'
THE first race at Grafton today is a fitting send-off for outgoing Daily Examiner sports editor Matthew Elkerton.
'Moose' is headed north to the Townsville Bulletin as a full time rugby league reporter. But during his three-year stint in the role he showed his talents were just as worthy trackside as they were on the footy sidelines.
Clarence River Jockey Club has named today's first race at 2pm the Farewell Matt Elkerton Class 3 Handicap (1206m) as a testament to his dedicated coverage of Grafton racing.
"Matthew was really good for sport in Grafton,” CRJC chief executive officer Michael Beattie said.
"He made sure he had an understanding about sports that even when he got here he didn't know a lot about it.
"I think it did a lot not only for his own credibility, but the credibility of the paper.”
Elkerton was responsible for delivering the content in this 8-page Supaform liftout for all 25 of the club's race meetings each year. His rapport with the numerous local trainers made that task all the more achievable.
"I think the greatest indication of how well he was accepted was that all the trainers were aware of who he was, and when he rang for a story they were always happy to help him,” Beattie said.
"He made himself a personality. He wasn't just a name in the paper.
"We're going to miss him. He's a big boy, but he's going to leave big shoes to fill.”
The sports editor position is currently being advertised, with a passion for horse racing a 'must' in the job description.
"I probably don't have a lot of sympathy for the editor, because he's a big tough bloke,” Mr Beattie said. "But I am going to feel sorry for the person that steps into his place, because there is going to be an expectation that the new person will be just as good.
"Matt had an easier transition than the next person will. He was lucky to work with some great journalists that showed him the way, such as Tony White who unfortunately is no longer with us, and Matt was smart enough to learn from and bounce ideas off them.”
I questioned Beattie whether a Class 3 had too much 'class' to be named in honour of Elkerton.
"If I hadn't been watching his extra-curricular activities more closely I would've definitely come up with a maiden,” he said.
William, Solid North in Race Six
Meanwhile there is the chance for a dream come true for me in the sixth today. With the Matthew Dunn-trained William and Tess Wilkes-trained Solid North both starting in the Kensei Club Closing Soon Maiden Plate over 1710m, there is the potential for the race caller to scream 'William Solid North, William Solid North' as they tear down the straight.
However, as Beattie can attest as the former owner, Solid North has shown nothing to suggest it will be in the mix when they turn for home.
"Solid North is a former horse of mine that I sold because I couldn't win a race with him,” he admitted. "And he's now been brought to race back here by his new owners. He's a lovely horse, but whether he's good enough to win a race, well that remains to be seen.
"William ran a metropolitan place last start and is a genuinely strong chance, there's no doubt about that.”