Please don’t ask me: By Tony McMahon
Published 17 November 2022
Lone behold it must have been meant to be, as by chance I stumbled across this brilliant photograph published in The Morning Bulletin, Rockhampton in September 1991 of Don’t Ask Me.
This occurred within minutes of penning a yarn on Wednesday about race caller Scott Power being chosen to broadcast the Country Race Series Finals in Brisbane on Saturday, December 3.
That story outlined Scott’s family background in the racing industry and made mention of his uncle the retired jockey, William “Billy” Bell and his late grandmother the Rockhampton trainer Iris Bell.
The accompanying picture is of Billy Bell riding his mother Iris Bell’s magnificent grey gelding Don’t As Me to victory at Callaghan Park on Saturday, September 21, 1991.
I just had to share it with you on the Rockhampton Jockey Club sites.
The caption I wrote along with the photograph published during the subsequent week in 1991, evoked many memories for me and I suspect will do for many readers of this site.
It read – “William Bell was the apple of his mother Iris’ eye after his delightful winning ride aboard Don’t Ask Me in the $6000 Ansett Cup at Callaghan Park races last Saturday”.
I called the race that day and had arranged for TMB photographer to snap the race finish.
Don’t Ask Me (1986, gr g Pride Of Kellina-Pixie’s Pride) was a prolific winning sprinter under the guidance of Iris Bell dubbed the “Galloping Grandma”.
Note the low crouch of jockey Billy Bell and his foot in the irons – totally different to the toe in the irons style now.
I recall that her son Colin Bell named and raced a Hidden Dragon mare Now Ask Me (2014) in more recent times winning five races when trained by Rockhampton’s Fred Smith.
Assuming that Colin came up with the name Now Ask Me from a derivative of his mum’s naming of Don’t Ask Me, I was about to leave it at that.
My gut feeling said “no” and I knew too well that in any form of journalism one should never assume.
Turns out that was the case, as had I not further delved my assumption would have been incorrect.
Upon going back through Stud Book records, I discovered that there was in fact a Pride Of Kellina yearling (1987) subsequently named Now Ask Me.
If one plus one makes two, there would be no doubt that Iris Bell would have named and trained this Now Ask Me after her Pride Of Kellina youngster (Don’t Ask Me) acquired the year previously had signalled promise.
Once bitten and twice shy, as contact with Iris’ daughter Julie Bell (now in Townsville), who I reckoned had won on Don’t Ask Me in her jockeying days, proved me to be right.
“Yes, Tony I won two races on him. You called one in Rocky and the other I rode him winning at Thangool. In all Don’t Ask Me won 14 races”, Julie enlightened me.
“Did by chance Iris race Now Ask Me”, I asked?
“Sure did. Now Ask Me won races and I think from memory he won in Brisbane. No, that’s right he ran third in a race in Brisbane”, Julie said as we reminisced.
So, in fact, Gracemere’s Colin Bell named his Now Ask Me after his mother Iris’ s Now Ask Me some 27 years later.
If you are assuming Colin should have named his Now Ask Me, Don’t Ask Me well you see he did the next best thing naming his Spirit Of Boom colt Didn’t Ask Me (2018), a last Callaghan Park placegetter in February.
I know what you are going to ask.
“What’s become of Didn’t Ask Me”?
Please “don’t ask me” because I didn’t ask as I am far too confused and that would be too big an ask.