On the Road AGAIN with Tony McMahon.
Published 24 August 2023
While in the process of compiling this week’s ON THE ROAD AGAIN COLUMN the song ‘’It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” came to mind. Many of you younger readers may have never heard of it given it was compiled in 1914 as a marching song for Allied troops in World War 1. It is a famous Music Hall Song as well for the Irish and English. Giving my age away I suppose but no I wasn’t born in 1914 but 1952. The Irish town Tipperary (origin) where, take it from me many Rocky racing folk have visited is 16,299km away from here. I suspect you are thinking, come on get to the point so here goes. From Rocky to Birdsville in the Simpson Desert is 1380km away by road while Cairns is 1064km. That’s a long way towing horses by float or on a track. However, both centres Cairns on Saturday and the iconic Birdsville Carnival next Thursday and Friday will have Rockhampton racing representation.
First things first though so let’s set off to Cairns which was exactly what trainer Darry Johnson and his partner the jockey Natalie Summers were doing when I telephoned them at 11am Thursday. “Yes, I’m driving Tony, Natalie my manger is alongside me in the car and ASPEN LAD is in the float”, Darryl said. I don’t wish to dwell on it but as this column is read Australia wide many would be unaware that Darryl Johnson, 39 became a paraplegic in December 2007, when as a jockey he was involved in a horrendous fall at Rockhampton’s Callaghan Park racecourse. Since then and becoming a trainer in 2008 he has never allowed his disability and restrictions of confinement to a wheelchair hinder his successful training regime. As for road trips with his horses, no problems. “Ï just transfer from the wheelchair to the driver’s seat”, he said en-route to an overnight stay at Home Hill. Darryl believes ASPEN LAD (Race 8 -TAB 6) will be a very strong chance in Saturday’s $35,000 Cairns Lightning (950m). “He was in need of the hard hit out at Mackay on August 8 first-up when a strong third. There doesn’t look like a lot of speed in the Cairns race on Saturday and he should be able to lead”, Darryl said. ASPEN LAD is a Cairns 950 metres specialist winning there as a 2 & a 3-Y-O. Now six, ASPEN LAD (Bagger Vance -Sonador Rose) is a seven times winner. Incidentally, Johnson and part-owner of ASPEN LAD, Diane Reck have previously won a Cairns Lightning with the grey flash, the Dance Hunter mare Isa Tala in 2017.
Huge interest in Cairns of course with Callaghan Park’s Ricky Vale trained last start Townsville Cup winner Namazu (R 9 -TAB 1) contesting the $150K Cairns Cup (2100m). Chasing back-to-back Cairns Cup successes, a win would take his earnings over the $700k mark.
While Rockhampton trainer Kristie-Clark Peoples may not get to Birdsville for the races late next week, her five starters there NOT ANOTHER, PERSEVERE, FUTURE IDEA, CENTAUR and DISPUTE are already more or less half-way there. The horses have been temporarily based at Longreach with husband David Peoples and their sons Loue and Oliver. They will all be ON THE ROAD AGAIN on Friday trekking 693km to Birdsville. Krystie’s father, the popular Callaghan Park trainer Alan Clark has to undergo more surgery in Brisbane next week for a punctured lung. In-form Rockhampton apprentice jockey Nikki Olzard has been engaged to ride most of the team at Birdsville. Nikki and her mother will be ON THE ROAD AGAIN leaving Rockhampton next Wednesday bound for Birdsville. Nikki has been in grand form with another winning double this time at Dingo last Saturday making it 17 wins since her race riding debut at Gladstone on May 27. Meanwhile, on Saturday just a short round trip excursion (350km) to the Bluff Cup races and back for Nikki where she has a full book of rides for Mackay’s John Manzelmann. The Krystie Clark-Peoples team have been in good form. NOT ANOTHER (Chris McIver) won the Dingo Cup last Saturday while CENTAUR, last year’s Longreach Cup winner is a last start Aramac Cup victor. A surprise entry for Saturday week’s $50k Birdsville Cup (1600m) is the Rockhampton Nick Walsh trained BOLLENTE which is Central West owned. It is a certainty that BOLLENTE which would be given “the grandstand” won’t be making the trip.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN after recent profitable raids from Jamie McConachy’s Rockhampton base has been the ultra-consistent CITY MISSION (br m 4 The Mission-Alexandra Gardens). CITY MISSION contests a $75,000 Class 3 Plate (1615m) at Doomben under Kyle Wilson-Taylor on Saturday. Jamie McConachy has been in Brisbane since undergoing heart surgery a week ago and he has clearance to come back to Rockhampton on Sunday. “The distance should suit her (CITY MISSION), and we want to see if she is up to the city standard. I am out of hospital, and I will go over and watch her race”, Jamie said from Brisbane this afternoon. CITY MISSION (R 4-TAB 12) has to be Rockhampton’s most consistent racehorse. In 13 starts for Jamie McConachy she has only missed a place once recording three wins and nine placings for $163,250. Raced by Bryan and Lorraine Hall of Graceville Thoroughbreds, she has been ON THE ROAD AGAIN lately from Rocky winning at Ipswich (668km) and Townsville (717km) as well as placings at the Sunshine Coast (559km) and Mackay (335km). Jamie McConachy said he was feeling “not too bad” after his heart surgery and being released from hospital. The same connections won with Sunny Coast at Mackay last Tuesday.
Don’t forget Callaghan Park TAB races next Tuesday when trainers will be ON THE ROAD AGAIN coming from Roma, Sunshine Coast, Eidsvold, Emerald, Beaudesert, Mackay, Thangool and the Gold Coast. The most interesting entry is PRINCESS TENKO.
See you ON THE ROAD AGAIN next week. Happy Horses – Tony McMahon.