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A win by Melbourne's premier jockey Craig Williams in the final race has given the metro jockeys' team a last-gasp win

A victory by Melbourne’s premier jockey Craig Williams in the final race has given the metropolitan jockeys’ team a last-gasp win at the first Rapid Racing meeting at Flemington.

The Victoria Racing Club trialled the format on Sunday with the meeting held in a twilight timeslot with 30 minute gaps between the seven races up the Flemington straight.

An integral part of the day was a jockeys’ challenge featuring a metro team against a country team, with the sides selected on premiership standings in Victoria at the start of January.

The country team got off to a flying start and led the pointscore – based on top four placings in each race – until the final race when Williams steered the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained Delusions to victory in the Resimax Group Jockey Challenge Trophy.

Double points were on offer in the final race and the metro team overhauled the country team to win 43 to 37.

Williams won the individual pointscore on a countback from Jye McNeil, who represented country, while Mick Price and Michael Kent jr won the day’s top trainer.

A crowd of just over 4000 turned up and the VRC’s Leigh Jordon felt the meeting was a definite pass mark.

“It has gone pretty quick and I think the jockeys got into it,” Jordon said.

“They seemed to be laughing and had a good time and it went right down to the wire, so it had good drama.

“The whole concept is about tight racing – three hours packaging it up. I think there was a lot of camaraderie between both teams which was good.

“I reckon it’s been more than a pass mark, it’s been successful, and we’ll take a lot of feedback and have a look at it and see how we can improve on it for next year.”

Williams said it had been a busy schedule with three city meetings in three days but hoped the people who watched enjoyed the day.

The country team got off to a flying start with wins in the first three races by Dean Holland, Jarrod Fry and Jason Maskiell before the metro team responded with Mark Zahra, Ben Melham, Luke Currie and Williams riding the other winners on the program.

Victorian-based Maskiell won on Excess Funds and gave up some strong rides on the Hobart Cup program in his native Tasmania, hoping riding for some different trainers at Flemington would lead to more opportunities in Melbourne.

“To get rides on a day like today and deliver, it’s good,” Maskiell said.

“Hopefully I’ll get more opportunities from it and it can open some good opportunities for us country jocks.”

 
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