On the Road AGAIN with Tony McMahon

Published 1 December 2023

On the Road AGAIN with Tony McMahon

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Rockhampton racing’s complete domination of Mackay Turf Club TAB race meetings reached its zenith on Thursday when it provided six of the seven winners as well as three runners-up, four thirds and four forth placegetters. Some 22 Callaghan Park trained horses completed the 670kh round trip and only five were unplaced. Trainer Ricky Vale top scored or should I say perfect-scored with three winners – Roscovo ($1.75); Knowitall Jack (NZ) ($5.00) and Luvin ‘Óur Grace ($3.20). All were ridden by Brisbane’s Ryan Wiggins. According to the website Racing and Sports, Ricky Vale has prepared 354 winners and he and Wiggins have combined 84 of them which are mighty stats. Other winning Rockhampton trainers at Mackay were Jared Wehlow (Fresh Prince-$1.45); Michael and Christine Dore (Cobbo – $21.00) as well as trainer-jockey Tasha Chambers (Fight In The Dog – $19.00). Callaghan Park jockeys Ashley Butler and Raul Silvera Olivera both rode the winners for Jared Wehlow and the Dore’s. Rodney Hay the owner of Fight In The Dog disclosed that he had a wager on Fight In The Dog securing the odds of $85.00 which amounted to “having a nice little collect”. Been a big week for Chinchilla based Rodney as he combined with Clinton Taylor to win with Astapor in Brisbane last Saturday.

It has been a monster week for Rockhampton racings “The Highwayman” trainer Clinton Taylor.  After winning at Doomben with Astapor (25/11) he returned last Saturday night to his North Rockhampton base. On Tuesday he had starters and a winner at Home Hill (28/11). Then on Thursday (30/11) Clinton raced at Mackay and after his starters go round at Rockhampton today (Friday) it will not be all over for the week. That’s because he has driven the recent Rockhampton Breeder’s Plate winner Valorous Performer, a 2023 Capricornia Yearling Sales graduate by Heroic Valour from the Raheen Stud draft, down to Doomben to race on Saturday (tomorrow). Valorous Performer is listed as TAB 6 in Race 1 and will be ridden by stable jockey Justin Stanley. The filly is a short-priced favourite for the $105K QTIS 2YO Handicap (1200m) but Taylor has warned punters to be cautious as she is no Astapor. He has gone on record as saying he is “more hopeful of winning than being confident”. Anyhow, from my calculations Clinton Taylor has driven all the float trips to those destinations (minus Rockhampton) with his starters. By the time he gets back to Rockhampton on Sunday or maybe Saturday night he will have driven at least 4500km with horses since last Friday. Nothing short of amazing. Definitely unprecedented by a Rockhampton trainer.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN but this time for much shorter trips to Thangool (155km) will be a stack of Rockhampton racing identities as in jockeys, trainers and horses tomorrow (Saturday). Some 11 Rocky horses from Callaghan Park trainers Dalye Whyte, Ricky Vale, Alan Jones, Zoe Hohn, Dane McKinnon, Stephen Rundle, Lyn Sullivan and Tim Cook will be in action out there. Rocky jockeys Warwick Satherley, Tasha Chambers, Ashley Butler, Chris McIver, Nikki Olzard, and Erin Molloy will be riding at what can only be described as a first class Thangool meeting. Full fields are the order of the day. The first at Thangool gallops away at 1.15pm. 

Good to see some well-known jockeys who frequent the Capricornia races “getting a go” in Doomben on Saturday in the two designated Country Special Conditions races – The Cup Final and The Stampede. I am referring to Clermont’s Emma Bell, Bowen based Gabrielle Semmens, Barcaldine’s Tyler Leslight (now on loan in Brisbane), Sunshine Coast’s Adam Sewell and Townsville’s Adrian Layt. Not forgetting Brisbane’s Les Tilley. Emerald trainer Raymond Williams, Mackay’s John Manzelmann, Roma’s Craig Smith, Rockhampton’s Peter Fleming (Fanaar), Barcaldine’s Bevan Johnson, Mackay’s Joshua Manzelmann, Rockhampton’s Krystie-Clark-Peoples will all be represented. For mine whatever beats the recent Yeppoon Country Cups Heat winner Art By Concorde will win the Cup. Interest galore also at Doomben with the appearance of the Tom Smith Callaghan Park trained Acre’s Away in the MM Pierata plate (1200m). Les Tilley rides and his first-up unlucky third at Callaghan Park almost a fortnight back was a top-class effort. Acres Away will give a bold showing. Party For Two, another Capricornia Yearling Sale graduate contests the Mode Stakes (1200m) at Doomben and in a class field she has to be right in the race despite the poor draw. Also, Alpine Edge, the locally part-owned winner of this year’s The Archer goes first-up at Doomben as well. In for a thrilling campaign, I believe. And how could I forget our old (young really) mate Cocobrew Express also back from a spell at Doomben and now with trainer Ryan Tyrell.  We’ll  likely see Coco back to race in front on his Rocky owners over the Capricornia Yearling Sale Carnival in April next year.

Be remiss from me if I did not record the wins at Home Hill last Tuesday of some Rocky stakeholders. Long distance drives to race meetings are a necessity these days for jockeys and trainers and the 1240km round trip to and from Home Hill paid dividends for some. Jockey Brooke Johnson, Raul Silvera Olivera and Ashley Butler brought home winners as did trainer Clinton Taylor. After doing the rounds at Rockhampton races today (Friday) local jockey Raul Silvera Olivera heads up to Townsville some 717km away. The former South American is seeing plenty of Queensland.

Take care if you are ON THE ROAD AGAIN this weekend – HAPPY HORSES – Tony McMahon.    

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