NEW! Racing around Rocky with Tony McMahon

Published 8 March 2022

NEW! Racing around Rocky with Tony McMahon

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Plans for Sweet Dolly to annex a rare double and contest the $500K Aquis Jewel 3YO Plate (1200m) at the Gold Coast on Saturday, March 19 have been scrapped. Last year the Kevin Hansen trained glamour won the $500K Jewel 2YO taking her winning sequence to four straight. After an injury enforced 12 months layoff, Sweet Dolly resumed at Mackay on Feb 26 in the 3YO Jewel Qualifier (1200m) but wakened for third. In announcing the rethink on Tuesday trainer Hansen said there were no injury related dramas with Dolly. “The heat on the day meant she had a tough first-up run which we hadn’t planned for. She has just taken time to get over it and I have given her a quiet time since”, Kevin said. He reiterated that Sweet Dolly would be set for a Brisbane campaign in April. Sweet Dolly is not the only one feeling this terrible heat, is she?


What has become of Marway? Good question so I sought an answer from senior part-owner Greg Sturgiss. ‘’He has developed a sarcoid over the left eye and is currently at Oakwood Farm (Haigslea) and is taken across to the Gatton Equine University for regular treatment. After one or two more treatments Marway will be coming back home to re-join John O’Sing at Callaghan Park”, Greg revealed. Dr Google enlightened me that sarcoids are the most common skin tumours in horses and as many as one in 50 horses acquire them. They can lead to serious consequences so let’s hope Marway’s expensive treatment (“we’ve found that our “, Greg said) is successful. Overlooked at the Capricornia Yearling Sales and retained by his breeders, Marway starred in Rocky before winning three in succession for Sydney trainer Mark Newnham early last year including the prestigious Wagga Town Plate. His form tapered-off last summer and he has not started since unplaced on December 12 at Rosehill. Apart from the heath issue, Marway’s biggest battle may be with the handicappers as the” grandstand” may await him in weights at Rockhampton. Best of luck Marway, the winner of 12 races and $439,550 in stakes.


Has it ever entered your mind where all the money in fines imposed by stewards against racing licensees ends up? I know in my years as a stipe with the Australian Jockey Club ending in 1986 as far as I knew it went into internal (consolidated revenue). It seems from enquiries I made this week nothing has changed. Contacting the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission, the body for who stewards are contracted, it was confirmed the fine funds go to consolidated revenue. Each month it runs into many thousands of dollars. Just an example at the RJC races on February 25 stewards imposed $1900 in fines for jockeys over using the padded whip in excess of the mandatory number of whips strikes prior to the 100 metres mark. Similarly at Toowoomba in early March some $2300 in whip fines while they totalled $1400 recently at a Sunshine Coast meeting. What a shame it goes back into a form of Government coffers. In a perfect world wouldn’t it be appropriate that the funds from fines went towards a retiree licensees welfare fund or injured jockeys’/trainers’ charity?  A perfect world – what’s that?  The irony of the whip usage was that in my stewarding days the jocks were fined for insufficient vigour. Times have changed and visual perception rules.


Rocky St Pat’s Day races on Saturday at Callaghan Park  looms as an interesting race card on the track. Successful young trainer Nick Walsh has two of his stars reappearing in the Open Handicap (1050m) in Bollente and Princess Rules. The latter no doubt will be gearing for the QTIS $93K Capricornia Yearling Sales 3 & 4YO Championship (1300m) at Callaghan Park on Saturday, April 9. Bollente, third in last years Rocky Cup has bigger fish to fry this winter. Nick Walsh has been a real revelation among the local training ranks since taking out a brief in November, 2019. Nick has had 43 winners since, including his city first with Aleysa’s Dream at Eagle Farm on December 18 last year. He is chasing another success with the Carrara mare at Doomben over 1000m on March 26.


Speaking of Carrara his stock is on fire this season. Emilee’s Empire made it five wins in succession last week at Callaghan Park and Aleysa’s Queen is another recent winner for the Riverside Stud, Alton Downs based Elstroem sire. I managed to pick-up a lovely Carrara filly from Bruce Watts’ Riverside Stud draft at last year’s Capricornia Yearling Sales at a bargain price. Bruce has been a real stickler for the Central Queensland Thoroughbred Breeders Association and I think you will find his three Carrara’s in the forthcoming Rocky Sale on April 10 will attract keen competition. If they don’t, I give up, something which Bruce has never done with Carrara. Best of luck with them Bruce and let’s hope perseverance pays.


Talented Rocky apprentice Cody Collis is making “a fresh start” to his riding career and is currently on the Sunshine Coast with trainer Tom Button. There is no doubting Cody is a natural lightweight talent and he should be back in action riding for the Button stables at Townsville or from their new Canungra base shortly. If ever a young man has the mould of a male jockey, it is Cody. In something of a “stop start” career Cody has ridden 38 winners since his first on Exocet Rocket at Gladstone in December 2020. Cody hasn’t ridden for two months and if he puts in the hard yard the racing world is at his feet. I mean that as if you will excuse the expression, he has that cheeky charisma which takes a kid a long way down the path of becoming a good jockey.  That’s how I see it anyway – time will tell”


Finally, Tony Fenlon advises printed catalogues for the 2022 Capricornia Yearling Sales on Sunday, April 10 will be available at the Rockhampton Jockey Club offices at Callaghan Park from this coming Saturday. Good reading aplenty there with some you beaut future stars up for sale. Get ready to bid!

Hope you enjoyed the second edition of Racing Around Rockhampton as much as I enjoyed writing it. Happy Horses Tony McMahon.

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