In 1981 petrol cost less than 60 cents a litre, Newtown won the rugby league grand final and Robert Thompson rode the winner of the Grafton Cup.
While the first two things mentioned above will never happen again, Robert Thompson is looking to turn back the clock in the race he won thirty years ago aboard My Star Sapphire.
“I’ve been riding in the Grafton Cup since the mid 1970’s, but I look forward to it every year, it’s a great couple of days,” Thompson said.
“My Star Sapphire was trained by my father, Arthur, so that was a very special day. I haven’t won it since but I’ll be trying my best to win the race again.”
At 53 years of age, there may be some that question Thompson’s commitment, but he still has passion in spades, and a rock hard work ethic, which is evident by the fact that he has rides booked in 15 of the 16 races set down for the two day Grafton carnival.
Thompson, who was once described as ‘the George Moore of the bush’ by champion jockey Malcolm ‘Miracle’ Johnson, has ridden an incredible 3664 winners since taking up riding in 1972. He will be hoping to notch one more when he steps out in the Grafton Cup aboard Circle of Fame.
Circle of Fame was recently transferred from the Rod Craig yard to Ruth Cooper, and Thompson believes she has the horse in top shape.
“Ruth hasn’t had Circle of Fame for a long time and is still learning about the horse, but she has got him going well,” Thompson said.
“I won on him two starts back and he wasn’t beaten far last start in the Cup prelude. It’s a very tough field but he can run a cheeky race with no weight on his back.”
Circle of Fame is an outside chance with bookmakers at $31.00, well behind favourite The Verminator, who dominates betting at $3.80.
Thompson has a number of live chances over the two day Grafton carnival. He will partner favourite Snip N Duck in the Grafton Guineas, while he will ride Falco Star in the feature of the carnival, the Ramornie Handicap.
Falco Star had a disappointing Brisbane winter carnival, and Thompson knows the horse will have to turn it around if it is going to be a realistic chance in the Ramornie.
“Falco Star has to lift his game because the Ramornie always has a smart field. But Liam Birchley is a very good trainer and you have to respect him when he sets a horse for a race,” said Thompson, who won back to back Ramornie’s in 2007 and 2008 aboard The Jackal.
Thompson’s other main chances at the Grafton carnival will be unbeaten two year old Leviosa in the Inglis Bonus Plate and Youthful Jack in the James Kirby Handicap.