On the Road AGAIN with Tony McMahon.

Published 15 November 2023

On the Road AGAIN with Tony McMahon.

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Spring, summer, autumn or winter you can bet your life Rockhampton racing stakeholders will be ON THE ROAD AGAIN. Such as this Thursday (16/11) when quite a number are heading up the Bruce Highway to Mackay to race. Did it countless times myself with horses over more than three decades. I also was the on-course Mackay Turf Club race caller for yonks’ before leaving of my own volition in March 2013. Getting up out at Stanwell at “Ungodly” hours to feed and attend the horses and then regularly drivING about five hours from there to call the TAB races at Ooralea racecourse Mackay, was getting too much. I remember saying at the time it was “the tyranny of distance” and hence I know how trying and tiring the drive can be for our Rockhampton and Capricornia racing stakeholders. As well the Rockhampton to Mackay stretch of highway is not only a danger stretch (highlighted by a shocking road accident on Melbourne Cup Day delaying Rocky stakeholders and horses for a considerable time) but it is also so boring of a drive. I understand and do not envy for one moment the racing guys and gals that make that trip so often as part and parcel of deriving income. Rocky jockeys Dale Evans, Ashley Butler, Warwick Satherley, Erin Molloy, Nikki Olzard, Brooke Johnson, Raul Silvera and Natalie Summers will make the drive and be on duty at the seven race MTC TAB meeting on Thursday. So too will be 22 Callaghan Park horses representing trainers Jessica Kuhn, Darryl Johnston, Peter Fleming, Tim Cook, Mark Cochrane, Kerrod Smyth, Alan Jones, Ricky Vale, Clinton Taylor and Kris Hansen. It’s a tough gig especially for those (five jockeys-three trainers) with horses starting in the last race run at 5.20PM on Thursday meaning they won’t have much change if any from getting back to Rockhampton by 10pm. The late timing is no way the fault of race clubs such as the MTC on Thursday as it is out of their hands and designed by the powers that be to fit in with southern programs and the later the race the likely the bigger the betting turnover. That’s the way of racing in these troubled wagering times. Thursday’s number of visiting horses from Rockhampton is the lightest for quite some (midweek TAB) time I would say without checking back. However, it is a likely safe bet they will win their share of races on the program.  Get to the form guides!

I have penned a story on Rockhampton trainer-jockey Tash Chambers taking AGE OF AQUARIUS down 559km to race at the Sunny Coast on Saturday. Another local in the Kristie-Clark Peoples trained CENTAUR will have his final start there before the $200K Country Cups Challenge Final (1600m) at Doomben on December 2. CENTAUR starts in Race 7 as TAB 16 in a very strong race over 1400m. Unfortunately, unlike AGE OF AQUARIUS, Kristie Clark-Peoples CENTAUR has well and truly drawn the visitors gate with the outside stall 14. Meanwhile, Roma trainer Craig Smith’s informs me brilliant galloper ART BY CONCORDE, which put up a freakish last to first performance to win the Yeppoon Qualifier last Saturday week, won’t start again before the Doomben “big one”. For me, ART BY CONCORDE is the horse to beat at this early stage.  

Moving on, let’s get ON THE ROAD AGAIN to Roma for the massive $50K Cup (1640m) and a fabulous back-up card there on Saturday. That’s where the “sandcastle king”, Jared Wehlow trained KOBE ROCKS will be headed for a float trop of 468km. Already the winner of the Bundaberg and Gladstone Cups on the sand this year, he is chasing another sand track feature win. To my way of thinking, with just 55.5kg KOBE looks very well placed. Notice Rodney Hay from Chinchilla has his smart Callaghan Park winner from last Friday in MOMACK also in the Roma Cup. Attending the Roma Cup race day which is humongous” is on my “bucket list”. Called-in there when we were ON THE ROAD AGAIN a few weeks back to visit Sister Marguerite at Mitchell. Very impressive facility is Bassett Park racecourse at Roma. Hopefully next year. With the utmost respect and no offence meant at all, I reckon Jared Wehlow must have a little “Gypsy” in his blood. He has been all over the place in recent months and on Sunday the stable is likely to be represented 717km north of Rocky with O’MUDGEE in the $35K Amateur Cup (1609m) at the TAB meeting at Townsville. I reckon Jared was stiff not to be floating READY BY DESIGN down the 2178km for the Jericho Cup at Warnambool next month. It went ever so close to qualifying before weakening a shade for third in the Qualifier at Beaudesert a week or so back. They tell me Jared even had Googled the RAQ Trip Planner at about the three-quarters mark of the Beaudesert marathon which was over 3000 plus a few metres. The puzzle is where will the dour READY BY DESIGN turn-up next to race now?

Resident Rockhampton trainer Jamie McConachy is also a likely mover and shaker on Sunday with his ON THE ROAD AGAIN stablemates JETSKI and ANATGONISER heading up to Townsville for the Sunday races. No surprises to see Rocký’s greatest ON THE ROAD AGAIN “miler”, trainer Clinton Taylor also likely to race there with HARCH ROAD and ROVER’S PEPPER. Word is that Clinton’s fuel supplier is becoming a little concerned of late as his best customer hasn’t been ON THE ROAD AGAIN a lot recently of late. Don’t worry old mate as ASTAPOR and CHINNY BOOM will soon come to your rescue at the bowsers. 

Finally, (thank goodness for that) as all this reference  to the RACQ Trip Planner is making me almost as tired if I was ON THE ROAD AGAIN myself driving to the destinations I am mapping. Callaghan Park trainers Steven ‘longshot” Rundle and Darryl Johnston have runners planned for Mt Perry races on Saturday which they tell me is at a scenic venue just 3.5 hours south-west of Rocky. Stephen has POET’S GIRL aimed for a Country Stampede Qualifier there and Darryl has GRAND DE LAGO ready to run in the $16K Mt Perry Cup (1400m).

Finally, wherever you are driving east, south, north or west please do so carefully and watch out for kangaroos particularly during early mornings, dusk and during the night. The country is so horrifically dry they are coming out in droves for green pick near the bitumen roads. The Taroom to Roma drive is notorious for them as is the Rocky to Mackay. So please take care so you can all get back ON THE ROAD AGAIN safe and sound. 

Hope to be back with RACING AROUND ROCKY and RACING AROUND CAPRICORNIA in the next day or two and thanks also for the encouraging feedback on my articles – much appreciated.

I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I do writing them.

HAPPY HORSES AND SAFE TRAVELS – Tony McMahon. 

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