Few people know as much about Jungle Juice Cup Day in Cessnock quite like veteran jockey Robert Thompson.
He’s won it seven times in his career on a track that sits only a stone’s throw away from his front door.
Having said this it’s been a very long time between drinks, in fact not since the mid-nineties has he managed to win the main event.
That could change this afternoon though when he climbs aboard Sly Lu, one of the hot favourites in the 2011 Jungle Juice Cup.
Trained by Mark Mason the five-year-old gelding has built quite an impressive record on the country circuit.
From 22 career starts he’s claimed 10 events, including a win in town at Canterbury.
He’s won his last three including a last start win at Cessnock back in May.
A win today would give him more than $100,000 in career earnings and he’s a big chance of making that a reality.
“The horse is racing well and I’m sure he’ll give me a good ride today,” Thompson said.
Thompson is a regular jockey for Sly Lu and their partnership is proven in returning good results.
“I’ve been lucky enough to win four or five races on him, his last win he dominated the race from up front and won quite well at the finish,” he said.
He’s a horse that will certainly be in the race, he’ll try and nab a sit or if not he’ll be content striding to the lead.
“He’ll race forward, he’ll be in the first two or three, he has an awkward draw and plenty of weight,” Thompson said.
“Drawing a little bit wide is a little bit awkward but he’ll go forward and run a good race for me.”
That style of racing should work very well for them today with the short and tight Cessnock surface tailor made for a horse like Sly Lu.
“It generally suits a horse that can get up on the speed, you can’t give them a hell of a start,” he said.
Thompson has a very nice book of rides throughout the entire Cessnock program today but he knows exactly which one he wants to win.
“If I haven’t rode a winner by the last race I’ll need to pull all the stops out,” he said.