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By Darren Winningham | Friday, July 12, 2019

One of the hardest working NSW country riders Ben Looker finally claimed his hometown Cup aboard the kiwi runner Sacred Day on Day Four of the Grafton Carnival.

Both of the big carnival feature races – the Ramornie and Grafton Cup – had eluded the locally raised jockey, who now lives in Port Macquarie, until his glorious win in the Cup on Thursday.

Looker and Scared Day had a wall of horses in front of them when the field came around the turn, but Looker waited patiently for a run before sneaking up along the rails which proved to be the winning move as Sacred Day quickly gained momentum and outsprinted his more fancied rivals.

Sacred Day has been racing consistently in Brisbane without much luck – however, after his last start win at Doomben kiwi trainer Tony Pike decided to take a shot at the Grafton Cup. His judgement paid off and he has evidence of that … the $83,000 prizemoney he takes home after winning the feature staying race of the Carnival.

“I always thought he was a progressive stayer and I think he will go on from here. We have always held him pretty high regard,” said Pike.


Meanwhile for jockey Ben Looker the win in his hometown Cup meant so much more.

“I thought winning on Victorem was a big thrill but to win the Grafton Cup, I can’t describe it,” said Looker.

“My old boss John Shelton is five metres away. Mum and dad are just over there and obviously there is my beautiful wife Priscilla.

“I had the offer of a couple of rides in the Cup. She (Priscilla) is the form judge. I asked her and she said this horse has plenty of upside. Credit has to go to the strapper as well who rides him in work … and a big thank you to Tony Pike.

“Whilst I live in Port Macquarie now, I am and always will be a Grafton boy”.


The support Looker felt with his mum and dad being at the track meant a lot to him and clearly it was also a very special moment for his parents as well – his father tearing up as his son was presented with the winning trophy for riding the Cup winner.

Looker’s celebration with the family, the cheeky call out to his wide Priscilla of … ‘Hey Cill, we are staying in town tonight, you better find us a room’ … as he was being led back down the straight past the large, very vocal and appreciative Grafton crowd were all part of some wonderful moments that I was fortunate to capture. (see photos alongside this article).

I have said for many years – no matter what sport you involve yourself in – the people who matter are those behind you. They make you the person that you are and invariably will be there to support you when times are tough.

Seeing Ben acknowledge these people in his life is testament to the person he is both on and off the track.

I remember on Sunday – Carlton Cup Day as he pulled up at the front of the track and we spoke through the fence. He told me he had not been home for a week. He said he had ridden at Tamworth – Rockhampton – Grafton – Gunnedah and had just driven to the track from Newcastle.

He has always been an under rated rider deserving of every success.

It was a real pleasure for me to be able to see him celebrate with his family, Tony Pike (the trainer) and the strapper Fergus Gallagher.

A big moment after a big win on a big day!

More articles

Ben Looker … with his family ...
Ben Looker … with his family ...
… with his wife Priscilla ...
… with his wife Priscilla ...
… with the spoils of victory

 Photos: Darren Winningham
… with the spoils of victory

Photos: Darren Winningham
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