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Newcastle Mile pinnacle of calendar year: Rodgers

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Newcastle Harness Racing Club chairman Daryl Rodgers has his fingers and toes crossed the 2022 AVE Technologies Newcastle Mile goes off without a hitch this week.

The Group 1 feature event returns to the Newcastle Paceway on Friday 18 February.

And, with $100,000 prizemoney and automatic qualification into the $1 Million Miracle Mile at Club Menangle on offer, a quality field of in-form pacers is expected to light up the local circuit.

“We’re keen as mustard,” Rodgers said.

“The Newcastle Mile is the pinnacle of the calendar year for us.

“It’s certainly the club’s biggest race.

“So, we try to pool our resources to make it a great night to showcase the best racing in NSW is actually in the Newcastle/Hunter region.

“We’re usually supported by a good crowd as well.

“Hopefully, in 2022, it will be no different, despite the COVID-19 restrictions.

“We are really looking forward to a top night.

“There’ll be plenty of activities on and off the track.

“The line-up for the Newcastle Mile, featuring Boncel Benjamin, Expensive Ego and local hope The Black Prince, is pretty impressive, too.

“I think it will be the best [race] we’ve had here.”

The previous editions of the Newcastle Mile have been entertaining but for all the wrong reasons.

So, Rodgers is keen to see “everything goes smoothly” in 2022.

“We’ve had issues the past three occasions, since it transformed to the $100,000 feature,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.

“The first year, we were on the wrong end of a massive storm – the races were pushed back an hour and 40 minutes.

“Had it been a normal meeting, we wouldn’t have run.

“It was very sloppy conditions, however we got through.

“Twelve months later, we had an incident where the stewards scratched one of the stable horses, which took three gallopers out of the race.

“Then, in 2021, the pre-race favourite was scratched on the morning of the event.

“He injured himself during trackwork that day.

“So, for the first few runnings of the Newcastle Mile, we’ve suffered a couple of setbacks.

“Hopefully, the next three will be drama-free.”

Those obstacles, however, haven’t tarnished the Newcastle Harness Racing Club’s reputation at all.

In fact, the organisation’s continuing to go from strength-to-strength.

“Newcastle and the Hunter Valley has been a long-standing and well-supported racing area,” Rodgers said.

“This event [Newcastle Mile] solidifies our standing in the sport.

“We’ll host 70 meetings this season and the next – that’s an increase of 10 per year.

“So, it seems the Newcastle Harness Racing Club is putting its best foot forward.

“And, we’re certainly reaping the rewards.”

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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