Right timing for Snowden
TIMING was everything for Clarence River Jockey Club and its special guest of the July Carnival.
Peter Snowden was in the transition from Darley to his new Randwick stables when CRJC executive officer Michael Beattie mentioned he was on the verge of confirming the leading Sydney trainer as headline speaker at the Grafton Cup Carnival Barrier Draw Luncheon held Monday.
A trainer of Snowden's stature is a major coup at any time.
But the decision to go independent and start his own entity with son Paul Snowden has piqued interest in the 57-year-old.
Furthermore, he has a history in Grafton, not only through recent Ramornie winners Pinwheel (2010) and Jerezana (2011), but from an incident as a young jockey in the 1970s.
Snowden was more than an hour late to the function, with his flight delayed from Sydney.
But he arrived, after an impressive bill which included Queensland syndicator Joe O'Neill and legendary jockey Mick Dittman, and the 300-odd crowd was not left disappointed as he engaged in a Q and A session with host Chris Scholtz.
"I thought with the quality of speakers we had, any could've been a headline act," Beattie said.
"To get them on the same bill was excellent and Snowden spoke very well."
TRACKSIDE - The DEX will run up to date commentary with race results, fashions and any items of interest from the carnival on its website.
Snowden spoke candidly about his recent split with Darley, explaining how "the enthusiasm and emotion" was no longer there.
With 66 horses already in work, he said the new operation had been a "huge learning curve".
He described the glory days of his "first champion" Octagonal, life as a jockey struggling to shed weight, as well as his horrific fall at Grafton, which left him nursing a broken ankle.
On that day, Snowden fell heavily and felt the hooves trample over him. It all happened in an instant and on Monday he elaborated on how he expected to see the pearly gates of heaven.
"I remember the fall clearly," Snowden said.
"It was my first major fall.
"I was lying there thinking 'I've got to be dead, there's no way I could survive this'. Someone tapped me on the shoulder and I expected to look up and see a man in a white gown and white beard or worse, a man with red horns. But it was Michael Beattie.
"He was the first person to ask me if I was all right."