Local apprentice Tahlia Fenlon called on for Lee Freedman’s ‘Bottega’ in the Cup.
Published 6 July 2023
Hall of Fame trainer Lee Freedman, with five Melbourne Cups among the 127 GR 1 winners to his credit has called on local apprentice Tahlia Fenlon in his quest to win Saturday’s $150,000 TAB Rockhampton Cup (1600m).
Fenlon, 20 with 114 winners attached to her CV and 32 at Callaghan Park was recommended to Freedman when sourcing a rider for his first Rockhampton Cup starter Bottega which has the lightweight of 54kg.
’’I have had the Rockhampton Cup in mind for some time with Bottega and I felt the weight (54kg) was an invitation for the horse to run. However, getting a jockey to ride at that weight can be difficult”, Freedman explained.
Elaborating on what led to his engagement of the leading Rockhampton apprentice, Freedman said track experience played a big part.
“She knows the track up there which is a big plus and of course can ride the weight”, he said.
Bottega (b g 6 Snitzel-Bennetta) is a five times winner, once over the mile of the Cup whilst being runner-up at that distance twice.
Interestingly, Bottega has not raced for seven weeks with his last start being a sound second placing in a BM78 over 1600 metres at Doomben in late May.
“He is a horse that races well fresh and won first up for me at Eagle Farm over the 1600 metres when I first got him”, Freedman explained.
Naturally, Tahlia Fenlon, 20, currently on loan for three months to Chris Munce at Eagle Farm, is pumped about riding for such a high-profile trainer in her hometown Rockhampton Cup.
“I am very excited and so happy to have been booked to ride Bottega for Mr. Freedman in the Cup. It is a great opportunity for me. I miss the family being in Brisbane but am really enjoying it down here”, she said today (Thursday).
Very much family orientated Tahlia went on to say ‘’Ï know Pop is very happy and excited for me to be riding a horse for Mr. Freedman in a Rockhampton Cup’’.
She was referring to her grandfather Ray Fenlon a keen racing man and a local icon in this city.
Ray Fenlon, the father of former RJC CEO Tony Fenlon, has been unwell in recent times and was only discharged from hospital on Wednesday.
Imagine the exhilaration Ray, wife Dawn and Tahlia’s parents Tony and Jodie must be feeling presently but that would reach breaking point should Tahlia and Bottega, salute just after 3.40pm Saturday.
Despite the short notice attached to Tahlia’s late call-up on Saturday, such is her following that she has four other mounts as well on Cup Day.
The barrier hoodoo that has prevailed against the gallant Master Jamie at his last three starts has surfaced again in Saturday’s Rockhampton Cup with him drawing widely out at 11.
Jamie has overcome such obstacles before and with 59.5kg, it is a luxury for a horse with a such a goliath reputation considering he was second last start under 67.5kg
Despite saying, as silly as it may sound, the 59.5kg weight provides the Graeme Green trained local hero a grand chance of annexing back-to-back Rockhampton Cup wins.
Attention now focuses on the classy TAB Rockhampton Newmarket meeting on Friday with the best of news that the Callaghan Park track is in a favourable recovery zone.
It sustained 41mm of rain up to 7.30am Wednesday when rated by track manager Trent Williams as being a Slow 7.
Prevailing blue skies and no subsequent precipitation has brought about a much more positive track assessment.
“The track will be on the better side of a Soft 5 for Friday’s Newmarket meeting and it has improved considerably”, Williams said at 1.30pm Thursday.
Racing commences Friday at 11.59am and in a very open program, Jamie McConachy trained Dollar Dollar (NZ) may be worth just that for little each-way punters as TAB 8 in Race 5 at 2.42pm.
HAPPY HORSES AND GOOD LUCK – Tony McMahon.