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GALLERY: Excitement builds for Newcastle Mile

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The early money in the 2022 AVE Technologies Newcastle Mile is on Boncel Benjamin, according to Newcastle Harness Racing Club (NHRC) chairman Daryl Rodgers.

The organisation hosted the barrier draw for its prestigious Group 1 feature race on Monday evening, with 2014 Miss Universe Australia winner and NHRC ambassador Tegan Martin and major sponsor Chris Elkin tasked with the important role of finalising the starting positions for the gallopers.

With $100,000 prizemoney and automatic qualification into the $1 Million Miracle Mile at Club Menangle on offer, the Newcastle Mile – to take place on Friday 18 February – has attracted a quality field of in-form pacers from across the country.

“I think this will be a fantastic instalment,” Rodgers said.

“Trainers are starting to embrace this race, especially with $100,000 up for grabs.

“We received nominations from all around Australia – Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and New South Wales.

“They’re keen to get that lead-in to the $1 Million Miracle Mile.

“If they win here [on Friday], it gives them an extra week off as well.

“But, if they don’t, they’ll have to race at Menangle to qualify.”

Hot on the heels of the recent Inter Dominion series, ID21 winner Boncel Benjamin and second placegetter Expensive Ego return to Newcastle Paceway.

The duo drew barriers six and five respectively.

Unfortunately, local hope and last year’s Newcastle Mile champion The Black Prince – owned by Paul Borg and trained by Roy Roots Jnr – will start from number nine.

“My early tip would be Jason Grimsom’s Boncel Benjamin,” Rodgers said.

“However, I’d never discount our own The Black Prince.

“He loves this track, although he’ll have his work cut out from [barrier] nine.

“After winning the Newcastle Mile in 2021, he went down and raced in the $1 Million Miracle Mile, finishing just behind the placegtters.

“The Black Prince also won another Group 1 race, the Len Smith Mile, at Menangle.

“It’s pretty rare for a horse to do that (capture two Group 1s) in one season.

“So, he did a good job for connections.

“I know how excited they were when he saluted (last year), especially at home.

“Sydney driver Robert Morris did brilliantly to lead him to victory.

“And, the local crowd will certainly throw its support behind him again.

“Hopefully, he can repeat that effort here on 18 February.”

2022 AVE Technologies Newcastle Mile barrier draw

  • Balraj (Jack Trainor) 7
  • Boncel Benjamin (Jason Grimsom) 6
  • Expensive Ego (Belinda McCarthy) 5
  • Fouroeight (EM 1 – Mat Rue) 3
  • Jay OK (EM 2 – Paul Fitzpatrick) 10
  • Mach Dan (Emma Stewart) 2
  • Majestic Cruiser (Jason Grimsom) 4
  • Max Delight (David Aiken) 1
  • The Black Prince (Roy Roots Jnr) 9
  • Triple Eight (Jess Tubbs) 8

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