Over the weekend the big story in rugby
league was not the Tigers’ loss to the Bradford Bulls (predictable), or Craig
Gower bleating about “how badly done by” he has been (boring), but a story out
of Royal Randwick racecourse.

At a time when racing is struggling with
the damage inflicted by the television rights dispute (also boring), the
arrival of a potential champion colt by the name of Regreagan might be the
godsend racing administrators have been praying for.

Regreagan is a two-year-old colt owned by a
syndicate that includes the Knights Andrew Johns, and his brother Matthew
(aka Reg Reagan of The Footy Show and elsewhere on Nine).

The Australian Jockey Club, that bastion of
racing tradition, allowed Matthew into the saddling enclosure without a tie and wearing a KB coat to cover his beer
gut. And the publicity will do racing no end of good. The pictures made all the
Sunday papers and even the television news bulletins.

I am a modest punter so not surprisingly I
took a special interest in the Regreagan’s first start. And it saluted the
judgement in style, at the unattractive odds of even money.

So much so that the Sydney Turf Club has
sensed it might have a major PR coup on its hands given the amazing and largely
inexplicable cult following Reg Reagan has – especially among young women.

Fans who turn up at Rosehill on Silver
Slipper Day in “Reg Reagan” gear will gain free admission. And they will get
the chance to see Regreagan the colt try and win a major lead up to the race of the
year for two year olds, the Golden Slipper.

The Johns brothers are not the first rugby
league personalities to own racehorses. But Regreagan might be one out of the box –
and the following its owners command has racing officials falling over themselves to
capitalise on the involvement of rugby league’s highest profile family in the
Sport of Kings.

And Regreagan – well bred though he is –
has a big incentive to do well at the track. If he fails he might end up not carrying a
jockey, but the Newcastle Knights mascot up and down the sideline at Knights
home games.

Peter Fray

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