‘Spectacular prize’ on offer in Lightning Ridge Cup

Jo Lindsay of Lost Sea Opals with the 2024 Lightning Ridge Cup bracelet, which will be awarded to connections of the winning horse.

Lightning Ridge’s four-day Easter festival will kick off on Friday, and Saturday’s non-TAB meeting will be one of the highlights of the community’s celebrations.

The festival commences on Good Friday with the Bull and Bronc Ride, which includes trick riding before Saturday’s Rickshaw Challenge, opal hunting, an egg and spoon race, a strength challenge, a fireworks display, Aboriginal dancers, and live reptile displays.

The popular race day attracts people from everywhere and will see owners and trainers fighting it out in the $14,000 Lightning Ridge Cup (1200m), which carries a much richer prize than the $7,450 in prize money to the winner. 

Lightning Ridge is the centre of the mining of black opal and other opal gemstones, and it’s only appropriate the feature winner on Saturday will receive a bracelet valued at approximately $25,000. 

Created by Jo Lindsay and the Lost Sea Opals team, the beautiful bracelet, which includes two locally sourced opals and a diamond, will be on offer to connections of the winning horse.

Lost Sea Opals has been designing the Lightning Ridge Cup bracelet since 2008, and Jo Lindsay takes great pride in producing a unique statement piece each year. 

“It’s a pretty spectacular prize and would be worth well over $25,000 to buy in-store,” Ms Lindsay told NSW Country and Picnic Racing. 

“They first approached me to make one in 2008, and there was a changeover in the committee, and they were looking to make the race more prestigious.  

“I was a young jeweller at the time and was quite thrilled to be picked. 

“We’ve done it ever since, and there have been a couple of rained-out ones over the years, so some have carried over, but it’s something I look forward to making each year.”

Lightning Ridge is renowned for producing high-quality gemstones, and Lindsay takes her time to find the right opals to create her pieces. 

Outdoing herself in 2024, the bangle is made with 18k gold, a diamond and two black opals. 

“It’s always a thrill to come up with a new design and a challenge to outdo the previous year,” she said. 

“One always likes to improve on one’s previous work; this year, in particular, it’s a beautiful bracelet.

“I had been collecting a few gemstones with this bracelet in mind, and I started playing with the design. I believe they are two opals that worked beautifully together.”

The night sky has inspired the 2024 bracelet.

“A lot of my designs come from my fascination with beauty and what inspires us, and there is nothing more inspiring than the night sky,” Ms Lindsay said.

“This design is a bit abstract, but I like those celestial designs, and it’s a beautiful bracelet.”

The Lightning Ridge-based jeweller will be on hand for the presentation to the winner of the 2024 Lightning Ridge Cup, and she said she has had some wonderful experiences when handing out the highly sought-after prize. 

“It’s been wonderful,” Ms Lindsay said.

“Women have burst into tears when they’ve won, and one particular group of women wanted to win it for several years, and when they did, it was very emotional. 

“It’s a special moment to see someone win something so valuable and just appreciate it.”

Angus Remond, President of Lightning Ridge Race Club, is grateful that Lost Sea Opals provides the club with its yearly statement piece.

“It’s a really important statement of what our town does and what we produce, and I think it is important to present it in the best possible way,” he told NSW Country and Picnic Racing.

“Plus, it’s huge for us and a significant drawcard. There is no other country club in NSW that offers anything like this, and only a handful of other towns deal with opal. 

“The quality that comes out of the Ridge is second to none, so it’s great to be able to recognise that and showcase that on our big day. 

“Jo does us a huge favour each year, and owners and trainers really want to win it, and we couldn’t be more grateful.”

While the Lightning Ridge Cup headlines the six-race non-TAB program, the club will put on a bumper program covering all demographics. 

“There’s a stack of activities and entertainment before and after our big Easter Saturday race meeting,” Remond said. 

“It will be a fantastic day with Fashions on the Field competitions, kids’ entertainment, full bar facilities and multiple food vendors available in addition to our usual six-race program.

“To complement the activities, the Club will be hosting patrons after the day’s racing concludes with live music.

“Our food and bar facilities will remain open until late for patrons to keep the fun of the day going.”

For more on Lightning Ridge’s big day, click here