Albany Racing Club will host the $100,000 Western Australia Jericho Cup Qualifier on Anzac Day weekend, Monday 26 April 2021, where the winner will be guaranteed a start in the Jericho Cup at Warrnambool Racecourse Victoria scheduled for late 2021.
Building on Albany’s connection to Anzac Day, the race will celebrate the history of the Jericho Cup, a race meeting originally conducted on the eve of a major offensive by the Australian Light Horse against the Turkish Empire towards the end of World War I.
The Jericho Cup was first held in 1918, which was won by Bill the Bastard, arguably Australia’s Greatest War Horse.
In 2018, the Jericho Cup was revived and is now a feature race run over 4,600 metres with $304,000 in prizemoney at Warrnambool Racecourse in Victoria, to honour Australia’s World War I heroes.
The reinvention of the Jericho Cup was the idea of philanthropist Bill Gibbins.
“It was a part of Australian history that I was totally ignorant of, about tough hardened men who came together from every corner of this country and combined with even tougher hardened Australian horses – the Walers – to form a dynamic victorious fighting force,” Mr Gibbins said.
“There is probably no better place on this planet to hold a qualifier race than Albany, which is where it all came together with a 2-3 week build-up of over 30 vessels from every part of Australia and New Zealand to eventually sail out as a fleet, the launching place of a unique piece of Australian Heritage.”
Mr Gibbins said the iconic Jericho Cup is a ‘race for the battlers’.
“When the racing industry celebrates this bit of Australian history they are in fact celebrating their own history, and whilst racing is known as the sport of kings, it is the 99% of “battlers” striving to get to the top that make it great – and every one of them can win a Jericho Cup, it’s for all those battler horses looking for that extra lap.”
“The history of the Anzacs is part of our DNA, and as for the race day it is not just the Jericho Cup, each race honours a person, horse or engagement in that conflict, each one tells a story that is compelling.”
Every race of 3,000 metres or more in Australia and New Zealand has points awarded to the first three Australasian bred horses over the line in the 12 months leading up to the Jericho Cup.
In addition, there are a number of races that are declared guaranteed start races, of which Albany is now one.
Albany Racing Club General Manager Mark Bayliss said the club is honoured to host the Jericho Cup qualifier.
“Anzac Day weekend is an important event in our town, and our race day on 26 April is a day of remembrance, celebration and Aussie spirit, a weekend of great significance for our community,” Mr Bayliss said.
“Attendees will gain free entry on the day if they are wearing their medals, and all gate entry fees will be donated to Albany Returned Services League (RSL) WA.”
Community TAB of Racing and Wagering Western Australia (RWWA) will be matching the donation to Albany RSL WA up to $2,000.
RWWA General Manager Racing Charlotte Mills said RWWA is thrilled to support the partnership between Albany and the Jericho Cup.
“Racing is entrenched in our history in Western Australia and this is an exciting opportunity for a local horse to travel to be involved in the Jericho Cup in Victoria,” Mrs Mills said.
“The qualifier at Albany represents a major piece of history in our State and we are thrilled to follow the winning horses’ journey from the qualifier in Albany to the East later in 2021.”
Both the Albany Qualifier and Jericho Cup in Victoria are restricted to horses bred in Australia or New Zealand only.
In addition, RWWA will provide a $20,000 horse travel subsidy for the winner of the Albany qualifier to support its journey to the East.
The Albany Jericho Cup Qualifier will be run as a Rtg 66+ Handicap over 3100 metres. The Western Australian Cup, previously run at Ascot over 3200m at a similar time of the year, will no longer be scheduled.
More information on the Jericho Cup can be found here.