CHAMPION Newcastle jockey Allan Robinson was handed the perfect chance to get his career back on track when he was confirmed as the rider for pure-white filly The Opera House for her racing debut at Newcastle on Boxing Day. The filly has attracted plenty of attention because of the rare colouring since John Singleton paid $220,000 for her at the Magic Million Sales on the Gold Coast. The Opera House will make her debut in a 1400-metre maiden which will be race one on the Broadmeadow program at 12.45pm. Robinson is re-establishing his riding career after being outed for three months earlier this year for his ride on Kwila's Law at Quirindi. Robinson admits he has found it tougher than he thought it would be to get the top rides he was used to securing. "I haven't helped myself by taking so many charity speaking engagements which meant I could not ride in the meetings around here," Robinson said. Last weekend he travelled to Emerald in Queensland to help out a charity show that featured rugby league identities Allan Langer and Scott Prince. "I am stopping that. I am not going to take speaking engagements now that interfere at all with race dates," Robinson said. But he believes there is another big reason why he is not dominating in his comeback. "I am not stupid. I have heard all the stories that I got time for not giving a horse a run and that owners and trainers would be silly to put me on," Robinson said. "I have always maintained it was a lazy ride on my part. I was not trying to get it beaten. "In the inquiry and appeals, even chief steward Ray Murrihy said that the ride was not up to one expected from a jockey of my calibre. "I have taken that on board, and now all I want to do is ride and ride winners." Robinson rides at Kembla tomorrow, Taree on Sunday and Cessnock on Monday. "All I can do is get out there and give it my best shot over the next few days," Robinson said. "Then I will be riding the white filly for Singo, and there will be plenty of pressure on there. "She has a real profile already, and hopefully she might be the one to put me back on the map." NEWCASTLE Jockey Club will call for tenders early in the new year for stage one of its new stable complex building project on a vacant site at Broadmeadow. The approval has been given for 75 to 80 new stables to be built. NJC chief executive officer Maurice Sinclair said officials from his club had used new stabling complexes at tracks like Warwick Farm, Rosehill and Wyong as possible models for their stage-one building project. THE NJC has openly stated that it has asked for financial help from Racing NSW for their major project, which is to totally rebuild the course proper at Broadmeadow. Figures of $5 million have been bandied about, so it is interesting that the big story coming from the south is that the VRC will spend 10 times that amount to rebuild the old areas of the members' stand at Flemington. It is hoped the new stand will ensure that 60,000 members can be catered for in the sacred area of the Flemington track. MASTER Newcastle horseman Paul Perry has openly declared his opposition to the new Benchmark system which was supposed to be the answer to the handicapping problems in NSW racing. "When the Benchmark system came in everyone was saying how super it would be, but from what I can see around here they won't be too happy for much longer," Perry said. "The system seems more intent on forcing horses to go to Sydney where they might run a nice 10th. "It was supposed to get horses to the races around the provincials, but that just is not happening and owners will soon get the jack of it and send their horses interstate or sell them. "There is just not enough Benchmark races to get horses a start. "There were supposed to be races for the older horses that might have to carry a fair it of weight, but at least they would get a start. "A horse like Opter would have to carry 10-stone seven or more in a 65 race, but there are just not enough high-weight type handicap races around the provincial area." CHAMPION Cessnock jockey Robert Thompson rides in the big races at Randwick tomorrow but is heading back north afterwards. Thompson has accepted the mount on Pepperwood in the Bernborough Handicap in Brisbane on Saturday week. The pair combined to win the race last year. PROMISING Newcastle apprentice Clare Pettigrew is set to resume her career. Pettigrew has been out for two months after badly injuring a knee while bringing a horse from the stabling area for barrier trials at Broadmeadow. Be Illusive was the horse, and it came out to win at Wyong on Wednesday when ridden by Jimmy Cassidy. Pettigrew was just starting to ride plenty of winners when the injury occurred. She has employed former rider Craig "Cricket" Rixon to be her manager. BOB Oatley really knows how to pick a winner whether it is a racehorse or a yacht. Oatley was represented by Parriwi which made a winning debut at Port Macquarie in the Rothbury Estate Handicap over 1000m on Monday when ridden by Andrew Gibbons. The Kris Lees-trained youngster was part of a good week for the Newcastle stable. Lees also prepared a winning double at Wyong on Wednesday. Now Oatley is chasing a double with a real difference. Oatley is the high-profile owner of super yacht Wild Oats XI, which is the one to beat again in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. SOMETIMES it is not only the winners who are grinners in racing. At Wyong on Wednesday, Stradeux ran fourth as a $120 chance. The horse is raced by a syndicate that comprises mainly lady members of Newcastle Jockey Club. Having just his second start for astute Newcastle trainer Phil Anderson, Stradeux was cheered on by a huge team of owners, family and friends. "The girls got a huge thrill to see their horse run so well," the NJC's Di Wade, who takes care of the syndicate, said. "I can't think what will happen if wins a race." THE jockeys calendar which has been featured in the Herald is a smash hit literally. "The website for the calendar had so many hits that after 40,000 it crashed," chief sales executive for the calendar, Belinda Gibbons, said. "The TAB has bought 500 so there is $10,000 for our charity, The Settlement, straight away."