Popularity Edge may lift spirits in bushfire crisis

Jungle Edge is the salt of the earth horse for salt of the earth people in need.

In March, with luck and conditions to suit, trainer Mick Bell and managing owner Ian Dunkley want to fly the flag for scorched East Gippsland and southern NSW communities in the $5 million All-Star Mile.

Stream over 50 sports Live & On-Demand with KAYO SPORTS on your TV, computer, mobile or tablet. Just $25/month, no lock-in contract. Get your 14-day free trial and start streaming instantly >

Lakes Entrance resident Dunkley, who serves as the secretary for fire-damaged Buchan & Gelantipy Racing Club, nominated the mudlark after Racing Victoria pledged $1 for every All-Star Mile vote would be donated to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal.

Racing Victoria received about 140,000 eligible votes last year towards the inaugural All-Star Mile selection, including 63,982 votes for the top-10 runners.

All-Star Mile voting opens on Thursday and ends on February 16.

Cult racehorse Jungle Edge will need to be at his absolute best if he wins All-Star Mile selection as the 1600m is at the top of his distance range.Source:Getty Images

“Even if we got 4000 votes (and not get a run in the race) that’s $4000 for the fire appeal,” Dunkley said.

“If we do get a run, even if he finishes last ($50,000 prize) I’m happy to give a percentage of the stake money to the Buchan race club.”

Trainer Mick Bell says Jungle Edge is “the horse of dreams”.Source:Getty Images

The Sapphire Coast-foaled sprinter Jungle Edge has started 73 times for 16 wins, 22 placings and $1.4 million in prize money.

All wins for the nine-year-old gelding, with a regal pedigree, including three at Group 3 level, have come on soft or heavy tracks.

“When I nominated him on January 9 we got the rain at Buchan and Canni Creek on the 11th, it was a bit of an omen,” Dunkley said.

“If it gets a run, potentially it can rain on March 14 in the All-Star Mile.”

Getting votes shouldn’t be a problem either for the Bell-trained frontrunner Jungle Edge, having raced on 24 separate city and country tracks in Victoria, NSW and Queensland across six seasons.

“He ticks the popularity box and he’s the people’s horse a bit,” Bell said.

“He’s the local (East Gippsland and Sapphire Coast) champ, he gets a lot of Lakes Entrance support, all in that fire area he’s got a huge following.

“We feel like he’s the horse to represent the area.”

Jungle Edge not only put Bell back on the training map, their association helped the Devon Meadows horseman through incredibly hard times.

Bell won the 2017 Star Kingdom Stakes at Rosehill — his first Group 3 — with Jungle Edge six weeks after losing his wife Bev to breast cancer.

“This horse is the horse of dreams,” Bell, who added a small pink lady to the cap worn by Jungle Edge’s jockeys as a standing tribute to Bev, said.

“When things are crook he seems to help out.”

Jungle Edge (left) takes out the June Stake at Royal Randwick.Source:AAP

Jungle Edge went too hard in front and finished fifth in a blanket go for third at his only attempt over 1600m in the 2017 Sale Cup.

“It (1600m) is right at the end of his distance but on the right (rain-affected) track I reckon he could give it a shake,” Bell said.

“It’s never been too hard to extend him out to 1400m once he’s had a few runs under his belt and if the conditions are right he doesn’t stop.

“I wish it was the All-Star 1400m.”

Jungle Edge has been kept in work and ticking over towards a possible first-up assignment in the Group 2 Rubiton Stakes at Caulfield on February 8.








Country Racing Victoria officials will on Tuesday inspect the fire-affected Buchan and Gelantipy Racing Club to assess the viability of its cup meeting next month.

The Canni Creek circuit has hosted picnic races for 133 years, but extensive fire damage has put the February 15 Buchan Cup in jeopardy.

The winning post, caller’s tower, running rail and parts of the track surface have been scorched.

But club secretary Ian Dunkley hopes to go ahead with the meeting.

“The community want to race there because they’re all devastated and look at it as a situation where they can all get together and chat over things,” Dunkley said.

“It’d mean a lot (to be able to race). If we can possibly do it, we’d like to have the races there.

“It’s a scene out of a black and white movie; it’s all black and white.”

A giant eucalyptus tree outside the mounting yard split and fell.

The biggest branch landed in “winning stall No. 1 and didn’t touch the sides”.

The club’s 2006 meeting was transferred to Bairnsdale because of bushfire threat and smoke.

Proceeds from Buchan’s annual picnic race meeting help fund the local nursing centre, primary school, church, cemetery and Avenue Of Honour.

“Anything we get, we distribute back to the local community,” Dunkley said.

Racing Victoria cancelled Monday’s Werribee meeting because of the persistent smoke haze. Trials at Pakenham and Tatura went ahead as scheduled.

RV said it would decide on Tuesday morning whether Caulfield’s twilight meeting could proceed. Race one is scheduled for 3.40pm.

Originally published asPopularity Edge may lift spirits in bushfire crisis

Source: Read Full Article