Racing AROUND Rocky with Tony McMahon.

Published 14 March 2024

Racing AROUND Rocky with Tony McMahon.

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The Rockhampton Jockey Club’s St Patrick’s Day races will be conducted at Callaghan Park racecourse on Saturday setting the stage for a colossal two months of racing in the city. Saturday’s six race TAB card will cater for all parties and that is arguably the operative word to describe the occasion. An interesting six event local race program commences at 1.09pm and interwoven will be the Coco Brew Fashions on the Field with attractive prizes to be won provided by Gold Partner Luxury Blooms and Hampers. There are five categories in the FOTF and they are listed on the RJC social media sites. No need to leave Callaghan Park after the last race at 4.17pm as there is an After Party featuring RlyAir which will be much appreciated by the young racegoers and those “young at heart.”

Included in the fields for Saturday will be the Bill and Di Ouston and Ricky Vale trained Chimera Magic, a Sooboog-Futereal juvenile contesting the QTIS 2YO Handicap (1100m). Chimera Magic won on debut at the same track on February 16 over 1050 metres and the extra 50 metres of Saturday’s race will be very suitable. A Capricornia Yearling Sales graduate from last year, already Chimera Magic is being spoken of as one of the leading contenders for the $168K (plus bonuses) CYS Classic 2YO Plate (1200m) run on Saturday, April 6. Those bonuses, if the winner is eligible, amount to approximately the value of $45K which is nothing short of amazing. If applicable, the winner of the rich 2YO race collects around $145K for the connections. Saturday’s race should be a rip snorter as Tasha Chambers trained and ridden Age Of Aquarius is topweight while Liam Birchley runs Cryptostar. Among John Manzelmann’s four starters is a winner in Simply Tina. Makes for an intriguing contest.

Speaking of yearling sales, a sizeable contingent of yearlings will make their way north to Rockhampton after being purchased at the Magic Millions March Yearling Sales earlier this week. CQ trainers active included Clinton Taylor (5 including the top Lot 346 -$230K -sister to Chinny Boom); Graeme Green (3); Nick Walsh (2- Lot 135- $87K in partnership with One Syndications); John Wigginton (2); Kristie Clark-Peoples (2); Kevin Miller (2); Jared Wehlow, Stephen Rundle and Jamie McConachy each purchased a single yearling while a number of others were knocked down to Rockhampton owners. These included Rocky Amateurs chairman Bill Reid who purchased Lot 287 a Written By filly for $30K. If I have missed any trainer, it was unintentional.

While the Capricornia Yearling Salle listings/catalogues have been online for some time, the genuine item, written catalogue format is now available from the Rockhampton Jockey Club offices. Regular buyers from past CYS should receive their catalogues in the mail any day now. The consensus of opinion, judging by the fall in prices from the Gold Coast sale is that there will be bargains aplenty at the Rocky counterpart on the first Sunday in April. The commonality is this – you can bet your bottom dollar that some very talented graduates will come out of the Rockhampton Showground Sales in just under four weeks’ time. It’s happened consistently year in and year out since the inception of yearling sales here way back in the eighties. Among those that had been in the CYS catalogues was GR 1 winner River Lad which won the 2014 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m). Just four years earlier the very same River Lad won the Capricornia Yearling Sale 2YO Classic at Callaghan Park. Most racing stakeholders tend to dream but I think it is a fair comment never in your wildest dreams would one have believed that could have occurred with River Lad. I suppose it is in keeping with the ethos “from little things big things grow.”

Spoke to trainer Chris Munce at Magic Millions earlier his week and he was full of praise for his apprentice, Rockhampton’s Tahlia Fenlon. “Very pleased with Tahlia and her race riding, judgement and strategies keep improving and she is going from strength to strength.” This Saturday at Eagle Farm she links with the Graeme Green Callaghan Park trained pair of Shamedy (R 6 -TAB 1) and Phoenix Flyer (R 4 – TAB 12). Shamedy is extra smart and even allowing for his topweight and wide barrier, he has to be strongly fancied. Tahlia has five rides on the EF program, being the most she has taken for a Saturday city race meeting. Seems finally the message is getting out to trainers down that way. 

Another talented Brisbane based apprentice jockey, the lightweight Melea Castle will also rejoin the Fly In jockeys’ roster at Callaghan Park for Rocky meetings from March 26. Melea, 24, was the leading apprentice jockey for Callaghan Park in an earlier season. From my records, Melea has not ridden at Callaghan Park for about 12 months. However, she has been riding very actively in the SE corner and will be in action at Eagle Farm this weekend.  With 97 winners on her CV, Castle will be in keen demand at Callaghan Park meetings, a track on which she has ridden 10 winners during her infrequent previous visits.

Melea has ridden winners for Callaghan Park’s Ricky Vale who deserves the heartiest congratulations for continually bringing back his versatile giant galloper Namazu to winning form preparation after preparation. Great effort Ricky to train Namazu to win under 68kg at Mackay earlier this week. I’ll be surprised if Namazu, a previous fourth in The Archer is not snapped up by a slot holder for this year’s edition of the $750K race.

Thrilled to see Lyn Sullivan’s confidence and perseverance with her sole horse Lynric Lass pay off with a win at Callaghan Park races last Friday. Lyn is a very resilient horsewoman as well could be expected from a former prominent Rockhampton Harness Racing Club based driver at Callaghan Park Paceway a few decades ago. It’s safe to say, to which Lyn would attest, Lynric Lass was a feisty gal earlier on with an aversion for loading onto horses floats and into starting gate barriers. Thanks to the skills of John Poots (here) and later Joshua Morrow on the Darling Downs, Lynric Lass has changed her ways after respective wins for them at Yeppoon (April 2022) and Texas (December 2022). Since then, her mare has not won in 17 attempts for Lyn, while mending her ways and running some very good races. That all changed last Friday so congratulations Lyn.   

Plaudits go out to former Callaghan Park apprentice jockey Alisha Donald, 25 who achieved almost the unthinkable during last Saturday. That being Alisha rode winners on three different racecourses on the same day, Ipswich, Esk and Toowoomba. That’s one for bragging rights Alisha who has been in keen demand from her Darling Downs base. That treble brought her career tally up to 117 winners. Congratulations. Meanwhile, out at Springsure St Pat’s Day races last Saturday, Rockhampton’s Tasha Chambers won the prize for jockey of the day. Down at the Ipswich races the same day up bobbed the gifted lightweight former Rocky apprentice Cody “Chip” Collis, 20. A year’s absence from race riding held no bars for Cody winning on his new master Stuart Kendrick trained Storm Force Ten. Proving it was no fluke, the ultra-lightweight Cody backed-up with another winner for his boss on Divine Okay at their Sunshine Coast base on Sunday. Kendrick, years back the dominant force at Mackay from where he trained, produced a career best five winners last Sunday at the Sunshine Coast meeting. 

Totally forget the out of character runs from the Rockhampton contingent of In Evidence, Sunshinyday and Acre’s Away at the Gold Coast last Saturday. The other Rocky duo of Master Jamie and Fine Shot produced very commendable efforts. Victorious on the day was Capricornia Yearling Sales graduate, Party for Two, winning the Mr QTIS Jewel (3YO) last Saturday. Of course, the brilliant winning effort there from Chinny Boom was a talking point at the Gold Coast MM Sales. Onwards and upwards now to The Archer on April 28 here for Chinny. 

 Happy Horses everyone – Tony McMahon.       

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