ONE of Darwin horseracing’s most popular jockeys will ride his last race at Fannie Bay today.

Richie Oakford’s ride on six-year-old gelding Wongur in the last race on tomorrow’s program will be his final appearance at the home of Territory thoroughbred racing.

And fittingly, Darwin Turf Club has named the $17,500 Farewell to Richie Oakford (1000m) race in his honour.

Oakford told the NT News it had been a long ride from his early days at Pioneer Park in Alice Springs to Fannie Bay.

He took a 16-year hiatus from the sport from the early 1990s to 2008 when he joined the Stephen Brown stable in Darwin before shifting to Gary Clarke’s horses in 2010.

Oakford, who steered Clarke’s gelding Mahaffey Road to a Darwin Guineas win in 2010, is moving to Rockhampton in Queensland to work and ride.

“It’s a stepping stone to my retirement plans,’’ 51-year-old Oakford said.

“I’ll do some riding over there, but it’s farewell to Fannie Bay, a track and its facilities that are a lot different to the course I first saw when I rode in the 1986 Darwin Cup Carnival.

“Unfortunately, I haven’t won a Darwin Cup, but I did get a second on Litinthenite in 2014 when I picked up the ride at the last minute.

“It was the year before Hugh Bowman won it on the same horse.’’

Oakford said his win on Mahaffey Road in the Guineas was his best in a 10-year riding career at the Bay.

“Actually that year, 2010, was a pretty good one for me. I won the Guineas and the Coleman’s Cup and got married, so it was one to remember,’’ he grinned.

Oakford, who did his apprenticeship at Morphettville in Adelaide at age 14 and won the 2017 Palmerston Sprint on Captain Punch, is one of a handful of veteran riders still performing on racedays in Darwin.

“(Steve) Ridler is finished now and Baz (Barry Huppatz) is probably the next,’’ Oakford said.

“Barry and I came to the Territory at about the same time and (Paul) Denton was a year earlier I reckon.

“We’ve all seen our good times and bad, but the industry has improved immensely, we’re getting great prizemoney now as can be seen with the Guineas winner now, who gets more than double what I won.’’

Oakford will also be on board former Wanderers footballer Peter Stennett’s 8yo gelding Ominous Warning in the first race on today’s card, the $18,500 Ladbrokes Handicap (1300m).



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