This week in Winning Post

The inaugural edition of The Championships reach their climax this Saturday with the running of the richest race in Sydney history, the $4 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes, where crack Kiwi mare Silent Achiever will battle it out with a galaxy of weight-for-age stars over the globally acknowledged championship distance of 2000 metres.

A corker support card includes three $1 million Group 1 races: the Schweppes Sydney Cup, the ATC Australian Oaks and the Queen of the Turf. Then there's the $500,000 Group 2 Arrowfield Royal Sovereign Stakes for the three-year-old sprinters and a brand new race, the $500,000 Group 3 Royal Randwick Stakes for two-year-old fillies.

To celebrate, Winning Post will be out a day early (Wednesday afternoon in selected Melbourne CBD and Flemington newsagents, Thursday morning elsewhere.)

Of course, there's plenty of quality racing around Australia this Easter weekend and Winning Post will have it all covered. We start with full form for four Thursday TAB meetings. The metro racing this Saturday is at Randwick in Sydney, Caulfield in Melbourne, Oakbank in SA, Eagle Farm in Brisbane and Ascot in Perth.

Winning Post carries full-colour liftout guides for all those meetings plus Tatura (Vic/SA/WA/Tas edition), Kembla Grange (NSW edition) and Gold Coast (Qld edition), as well as fields, tips, ratings and/or colours for other TAB Saturday cards.

On Sunday we've got liftout formguides for four TAB meetings plus fields, ratings, tips and colours for a stack more meetings.

Easter Monday is a huge day in Australian racing and we've got full form for the meetings at Oakbank (Great Eastern Steeple day), Caulfield and Randwick (Kensington).

Don't forget Winning Post now carries trackwork reports for all four Melbourne training tracks, all three in Sydney, Morphettville in Adelaide and a general Brisbane report.

Away from the form, we've got news columns from Queensland, NSW, six Victorian districts, SA and Tasmania.

On our Your Say page, our readers are fired up across all the big issues. Richard Callander has the inside mail on NSW racing. Further back in the book there's the Snippets column, Richo adds his unique take on the sport, Shane Templeton reminisces, Brent Zerafa reports and Peter Lucas and John Barker go head to head on the burning issues in sport.

If you're a breeding enthusiast you won't want to miss our WP Thoroughbreds liftout, featuring contributions from TVN's Tara Madgwick.

Don't miss this week's Winning Post ($5), available from Thursday afternoon in selected Melbourne CBD and Flemington newsagencies, the crack of dawn Friday elsewhere around Australia.

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Inside Winning Post April 19 edition you'll find liftout form guides for:
Thursday:
Sale, Wyong, Rockhampton, Geraldton
Saturday:
Randwick, Caulfield, Oakbank, Eagle Farm, Ascot, Tatura (Vic/SA/WA/Tas edition), Kembla Grange (NSW edition), Gold Coast (Qld edition)
Sunday:
Mornington, Donald
Monday:
Caulfield, Oakbank, Randwick (Kensington)
Who will be the Australian horse of the year for 2013/14?
Eye Catchers
Each week Paul Richards identifies horses from recent race meetings that he believes are ready to win. Here we update you when they are about to have their next start.

There are no Eye Catchers this week

Letter of the Week

Thurgood 34 years on

As Elvis "Ricky" Thurgood left for Caulfield races on Easter Saturday in 1980, life couldn’t have been better for the 21-year-old.

He had just completed a successful apprenticeship with the leading Caulfield stable of Angus Armanasco. He had ridden 58 winners in a career spanning five years.

Tragically, Easter Saturday at Caulfield 34 years ago would leave Ricky facing certain death.

Ricky suffered every jockey’s worst nightmare when Taras Regent collapsed and died on the home turn in the Easter Cup. It was a fall without the slightest warning in a big field.

Later that day at the Alfred Hospital, his parents, Noel and Doris, his brother Derek and sister Debbie were told that their son and brother was not expected to survive the night.

Not only did Ricky survive the night, but he survived the next day, the next week and the next month.

In the best of faith, doctors told Noel and Doris that Ricky’s life expectancy would not exceed one year.

Today, 34 years later, Ricky is still being cared for by Noel and Doris at their home in Caulfield.

His survival meant the start of a lifetime of commitment by his parents. These two extraordinary people are a unique example of love, care and attention that has been unconditional, without boundaries and unending.

Ricky’s injuries were genuinely catastrophic. A massive brain injury has left him unable to communicate at all. Physically, Ricky is a complete quadriplegic who requires 24/7 care every day of his life.

In Ricky Thurgood’s case, the greatest of all privileges associated with my job is that I have got to know him and his parents well. I’m proud to say that Noel and Doris, along with Derek and Debbie, are close friends.

It is impossible to understand the grief experienced by the families of Victorian riders who have paid the ultimate price. The emptiness felt by the families of Andrew Gilbert, Mark Goring, Adrian Ledger and Gavin Lisk is impossible to describe. The incredible sense of loss felt by the families of Ben Smith, Harry Hillier and Adrian Lechmere lost at such a young age in tragic circumstances can’t be understood. The challenges faced so bravely by Lonagan Milham, Brenton Primmer, David Taggart, Danny Brereton, Billy Hernan, Louise Cooper and so many other injured riders is what makes jockeys unique.

Each situation is different, heart-breaking and challenging… but to the families of riders we have lost and to those riders who have suffered life-changing, career-ending injuries, the industry does remember you.

To Noel and Doris Thurgood, please pass on to Ricky that the racing industry remembers him this Easter, 34 years on.

(The Thurgood family sincerely thanks the Melbourne Racing Club for remembering Ricky by allocating a race on Easter Monday, the Ricky Thurgood 34th Anniversary Plate.)

Des O'Keeffe
Victorian Jockeys Association
Today's Racing
Saturday 19 April
Sunday 20 April
Social Networking

Paul Richards introduces a fun formula each week designed to come up with the odd winner for those looking for a small interest or to see if systems really work. On this page he subjects Saturday's fields to one of those systems: