Big occasion for Pioneer Park Racecourse Saturday October 8: By Tony McMahon.

Published 28 September 2022

Big occasion for Pioneer Park Racecourse Saturday October 8: By Tony McMahon.

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The attached story is one of many in a series I have been penning for the Emerald Jockey Club in the lead-up to its feature race meeting of the year, the Emerald 100 (1850m) on Saturday, October 8. This article will revive the memories of readers of quite a few jockeys that also played a prominent role during a similar era in Rockhampton racing. Enjoy the read and don’t forget to get out to Pioneer Park racecourse at Emerald for the big occasion on Saturday week. Happy Horses Tony. 

The Emerald Jockey Club’s signature race, the Emerald 100 (1850m) is only 12 days away on Saturday, October 8 and getting closer by the minute.
Casting an eye over the results of the “100” since the year 2000, it struck me that so many of the winning jockeys have as the racing lingo goes “hung up their saddles”. Sadly, Keith “Magic” Mahoney, the winning rider of Golden Scroll the first on my list in 2000 and “pound for pound” arguably best rider to ever win the feature, died just four years later at 42.
On Saturday, October 14, 2002 “Magic” Mahoney, outwardly a flamboyant, brash and ultra-popular jockey starred on the day winning a double at Pioneer Park courtesy of Kerrod Smyth trained Spritely Style. The winning trainer of Golden Scroll (7Y0 Blazing Sword-Adoyne) was Capella’s Bernie Barbeler which made the 100 win all the more popular.
Inwardly, Keith Mahoney had mental health issues which regrettably often went unnoticed or were disguised in that era.
The crowd that witnessed his spontaneous and effervescent winning elation at Emerald would never guess that to be the case such was his winning persona. In July 2004, Keith Mahoney was found deceased in his car in bushland west of Townsville – another victim of suicide presumably ravaged by the “Black Dog”.
The very reason I have commenced this essay so poignantly was not to sensationalise but to remind us all to be attentive to those around us who may be undergoing mental health issues.It is not a stigma but in reality, one of the biggest health issues inflicting Australians today.
In 2001, the following year Rockhampton based jockey Craig Beets, a native of New Zealand won the first of his two Emerald 100’s on the late Margaret Cooney Rocky trained Norpick. Craig repeated the dose six years later on Shane Iverson’s Power’n’Water. He retired from race riding around 2011 and as fate would have it now resides in Emerald where he still rides or should I say drives trucks and loaders. Craig 53, later overcame serious physical health issues and is now “all fine”. “I work at the Kestrel Mine outside of Emerald. I think I am off on Emerald 100 day so I look forward to getting to the races that day. It holds many good memories for me and be good to catch up Tony”, Craig enthused and I concurred. With hundreds upon hundreds of winners alongside his name, Craig Beets would never be short of cherished racing memories.
Roma based jockey Anthony Lane now 51 won the Emerald 100 in 2004 on Garnett Taylor’s New Trader. A winner of over 800 races, Anthony or Tony as he was better known, bowed out of jockeying at his home track Roma on March 23, 2012 winning for his grand supporter the local trainer Craig Smith. I could go on and on with winning riders of the Emerald 100 as who could forget that special locally based talent Athol Williams? Athol won the Emerald 100 on three occasions – in 1992 on Robbie Peckett’s tough campaigner Pleasant Express which won it again the following year under an equally as tenacious John Stephens. In 1999, Athol combined with his journalist and horse trainer wife Bernadette to collect the trophy with Volcanic Sparke.
Williams won his final Emerald 100 in 2000 for the late Blackall trainer Denis O’Brien with Exploder which won again the following year for now Bluff based mentor Bill Trimble and hoop Ricky Barrone. Now there was a good rider, Ricky Barrone. He won it again in 2005 on Todd Austin prepared Again and Again.
Athol Williams hung up his racing saddle on May 24, 2003 at none other than Pioneer Park winning a race on the card on Dallas Powell trained Dust Stormer.
As for the widely travelled and much skilled Ricky Barrone, he packed away the jockey boots at Roma 18 days after Mayybe Diva won the 2005 Melbourne Cup at Flemington before 109,478 racegoers.
There are likely to be about 2000 at Pioneer Park for the 2022 Emerald 100 but it’s a safe bet they will have as much fun as the hundred thousand plus that crammed Flemington on November 1, 2005.
HOOFNOTE: Looking for a suitable picture I came across this one of retired Rocky jockey Viv Welburn who is listed as winning the 1971 Emerald 100 on Jaffarugh. This picture was taken 14 years later at Callaghan Park but I’ll bet Viv had just as big a winning smile at Pioneer Park in 1971. Viv (for Vivian) or “Bones” as he was tagged, retired from race riding in December 2001. He looks a picture of health these days but definitely would not fit the “Bones” mould anymore. They say “winners are grinners” but this one would take some beating Viv!
By Tony McMahon

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