Galloping Around CQ, with Tony McMahon

Published 14 October 2022

Galloping Around CQ, with Tony McMahon

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Rockhampton’s Callaghan Park racecourse is looking spic and span for its date with fun in the sun and of course racing tomorrow (Saturday). The occasion is the annual racing bash, the St Peter’s School Caulfield Cup Day races. This day has not only become a winner for the Rockhampton Jockey Club and major fundraiser for St Peter’s School itself, but also for the Rockhampton economy. Party going young racegoers have already started to descend on Rocky from various parts of Queensland. I personally know some from the Gold Coast region. Big race days (and this is the biggest on the RJC calendar in terms of attendance), provide huge bonanzas and spin offs for local economy in wherever they are staged. It was the same at Emerald last weekend for the Emerald 100 race meeting. From taxi drivers to accommodation house owners and bar managers, the message was unanimous “this is our biggest day of the year”. All because of the racing industry. This message should be rung home to all community leaders and major business owners in the centres staging race meetings that draw crowds.

Speaking of the Emerald 100 race meeting last Saturday it was massive. A crowd of 2600 people attended Pioneer Park and that folks is very big. They came from all forms of life and backgrounds. It was huge as I saw it for my own eyes. The grass track was brilliant. The Emerald Jockey Club has copped a bagging in recent times when through rain events meetings were canned or on occasions the track did not come up to scratch. The new look committee and mind you they only comprise seven in number has put in a huge effort to turn the negatives into positives. Pioneer Park racecourse is a big complex and with nine meetings annually arguably requires a full-time curator and track manager. However, let’s be real the Emerald Jockey Club doesn’t print money and simply can’t afford that luxury. So, like so many other country race clubs its survival relies entirely on selfless individuals who put in the hard yards and in the main on a voluntary basis.

It is so easy for we the professionals to be critical of a country race club when something goes wrong. However, next time when in that frame of mind, I urge you to stop for a moment and just ask yourselves “would I do all that voluntary work giving up my spare time and holidays so a race club could keep going”? The answer in my opinion would be an overwhelmingly NO. I’m not being a scaremonger here but I can name four country race clubs in Capricornia that I am involved with which would be “stuffed” (excuse the expression used for emphasis only) without the contribution of individual families who virtually keep them in operation. Down the track I envisage that Racing Queensland will have to employ and deploy and base small professional operatives’ management teams to get out there in the field and assist country race clubs. This will have to happen for the longevity of country racing and if you think it won’t, I bet you also that you never thought use of the whip in races would be regulated either. Well, it is. Believe me what I suggest will happen.

A classic example of this (whip restrictions) took place when comeback jockey Colin Lennon got over enthusiastic or just plain forgot that jockeys are barred from applying the padded whip (I call it a feather duster) more than 10 times in a race before the last 100 metres. Poor old Col (sorry Col I meant that in affectionate terms) had been off the scene for over six years from a broken neck and returned last month. He was riding for dear life with Bayerische leading in the Emerald 100 and that win which eventuated meant much for him. Anyhow he copped a week’s suspension for using the padded whip more than 10 times before the 100 metres on Bayerische. On face value that seemed a tough call given Lennon’s circumstances, so I put in a call to chief stipe Ben Cooke who issued the suspension. He explained that there is a template in use agreed to by the Jockeys Association and the authorities when the new whip rules were introduced some years ago. The rules changed in 2009 and were tinkered with again in 2014 so if a jockey goes over the 10 strikes before the last 100m, he/she is out and it’s as simple as that.

Stewards in cases such as Lennon’s are bound to adhere to the template and have no discretionary powers Ben Cooke explained. So that explains it. By the way for those of you who don’t know and I was unsure, jockeys are bound not to apply the whip in totality more than 14 times during a race. There are also restrictions banning its use in consecutive strides. Anyhow, Colin Lennon will be back in action next Saturday at Gladstone. Damn bad luck he couldn’t ride at the St Peter’s School meeting tomorrow in Rocky where just eight hoops were available as of this morning. This meant that after declarations 10 horses did not have jockeys. At Saturday race meetings in Capricornia, jockeys are as scarce as hen’s teeth. It would appear that regrettably quite a few horses will be scratched from the meeting because of that reason. Tough gig this horse racing caper.

THE GOOD TO HEAR NEWS.
Rocky jockey Natalie Summers on winning on supporter, the Mackay trainer Ian Shaw’s Ixelles at Bowen last Saturday. Here, there and everywhere man Ash Butler scoring yet another win at Townsville races on Thursday. That came on top of nine previous winners over the last five weeks at Mackay, Townsville, Yeppoon, Emerald and Rockhampton. To Taroom trainer Rodney Hay, a great supporter of Capricornia and Rockhampton racing on acquiring a magnificent property at Chinchilla. Rodney told me at Emerald he is also considering purchasing a small stables set-up in Rockhampton. To Bill and Dianne Ouston for their win at Warwick Farm on Wednesday with Street Gossip. Emerald trainer Raymond Williams for his continued success with veteran gallopers. Ray trained the winner Star of O’Reilly (7YO) formerly with Todd Austin and Ahwahneechee (8Y0) runner-up in the Emerald Lightning last week. He has enjoyed success with Shigeru Mahogany (11YO) and last season’s 12YO Boot Shaker. I’m considering transferring myself to Ray to put me into work as he seems to have a lot of success with old geldings. Did I just say that?

COMING UP.
Gladstone Turf Club Country Stampede Qualifier race day at Ferguson Park next Saturday, October 22. Callaghan Park TAB races on Thursday, October 27. Yeppoon Turf Club Country Cups Challenger Qualifier race day at Keppel Park, Saturday, October 29. Melbourne Cup Day races at Gladstone on November 1. Big phantom Melbourne Cup Day Luncheon at Callaghan Park on the same day. Tickets available from callaghanpark.com.au Then of course the first of the 2YO races at Callaghan Park on Breeders Plate Day, Friday, November 4.

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