On the Road AGAIN with Tony McMahon.

Published 1 September 2023

On the Road AGAIN with Tony McMahon.

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ON THE ROAD AGAIN before we know it will be popular Callaghan Park and former Central Western based trainer Allan Clark, renowned for his partiality for pink which naturally is the colour of the silks his horses carry. Excuse the pun but understandably Allan isn’t quite ‘’in the pink of health”’ presently after surgery on Tuesday in Brisbane for fluid on the lungs. ‘’I’m coming around pretty good now and hope to be coming home (Rocky) on Saturday”, Allan told me today (FRIDAY). I didn’t want to hold him up on the phone as his daughter the Callaghan Park trainer Kristie Clark-Peoples had starters at Birdsville (1380km from Rocky) in the afternoon and Allan was keen to tune in. He would have been happy as Krystie’s PERSEVERE later won easily and stablemate DISPUTE finished second. Allan only recently underwent earlier surgery in Brisbane, so he has had a rough trot of late. His smiling face has been missed at Callaghan Park.

Callaghan Park trainer Darry Johnson is still somewhat mystified by the disappointing performance of ASPEN LAD in the faraway (1062km) Cairns Lightning last Saturday after the speedster only beat one horse home and was beaten 7.3 lengths as $3.10 favourite.”  Don’t know what happened really. The horse is fine, and I can only blame it on the track “, Darryl reported today 1/9. Cannon Park track was rated a Soft 7 and it was obvious that many horses failed to handle the conditions. Ricky Vale’s NAMAZU was very courageous with his fourth under 61kg in the Cairns Cup (2100m) after conceding almost the field of rivals seven kilograms in weight. Both horses no doubt have enjoyed a quiet week after returning to home base.

Just some joy for the Rockhampton trainers Kevin Miller and Tim Cook who were ON THE ROAD AGAIN to Home Hill (621km) for an almost seven hours float trip for Thursday’s TAB races there with two horses each. Miller had a second (MOUNT MARGARET) and a third (BELEXIA) picking up $13,450 for connections thanks to the QTIS bonuses. Tim Cooks open classer BRAD earned $3800 for his second placing. Tim’s capable apprentice jockey Erin Molloy won on John Manzelmann’s SARBIA at Home Hill. Rocky jockey Ashley Butler also made the trip and rode two placegetters.

I was chuffed to see that travelling man and regular ON THE ROAD AGAIN, the former Rocky based jockey Pietro Romeo back in the winners’ stall on MIDAS STAR at the Home Hill races on Thursday.  I pride myself on being very curiously minded and perceptive, so it dawned on me that Pietro has been very quiet in reason months. With good reason as it turned out. Pietro had been out of the saddle since April Fool’s Day (April 1) when he rode a double at Home Hill. So, what happened I put to him on the Al Capone? “I got thrown over the top of a horse at Mareeba races (March 18) – like being tossed over the handlebars when riding a bike. My right foot was sore, and I had it X-rayed, but nothing showed up. Anyhow, I kept on riding, but it was pretty sore. I got to a specialist sports physician, and he scanned and diagnosed that I had a serious fracture of the navicular bone. I was straight into a moon boot and out of action since until resuming at Townsville on August 12”, Pietro told me. It is amazing when you think of it that Pietro actually continued riding with unbeknownst to him a broken foot for two weeks after the accident. Throughout my 55 years professionally engaged in racing, I am simply amazed not only by the courage of jockeys but also their resilience. Pietro Romeo is testimony to that belief. Incidentally, I recall writing a story on Pietro in June 2018 when he drove the 634km from Rocky to Brisbane and then jumped on a plane to Alice Springs before being driven the 500km to Tennent Creek for three rides (over 6000km). Alas the best result was a second placing. Of Italian descent but raised in England, Pietro Romeo has ridden on no fewer than 162 racecourses (Racing and Sports) from Goodwood in the United Kingdom, Randwick in Sydney as well as numerous bush tracks in both Queensland and NSW. A few years ago, I was calling out at Middlemount, and Pietro had been ON THE ROAD AGAIN from Townsville to fulfil rides at the mining town’s meeting. That represented a round trip of 1200km. Now Townsville based, Pietro Romeo is indeed a classic example of “Have Saddle- Will Travel”. You know what else? He is a very good horseman and a delight to share company with. As Johnnie Tapp would say “Many winners Pietro”.

Pleasing to see Frenchman and now Rockhampton based young jockey Damien Boutet, 25 back from overseas to be based permanently in Rockhampton. Damien is back ON THE ROAD AGAIN riding at Bundaberg (287km) races on Saturday. Boutet rode winners in France at racecourses I could never pronounce and would probably misspell. Damien is now ready to be among the winners. Hopefully, Damien will get his share of opportunities from his Callaghan Park base and his willingness to travel to country meetings should stand him in good stead. The changing faces of jockeys based in Rockhampton is ever evolving with newcomers of late Warwick Satterley (New Zealand- 2843km), Damien Boutet (France-16,033km) and Raul Silvera (Uruguay – 13,194k). What is that they say? Oh yes – it is a small world.

I reported on Bluff races in the Racing Around Capricornia column earlier this week. While Rocky apprentice Nikki Olzard had to be content with three placegetters there, she certainly has bragging rights on her CV after riding a winner at Birdsville this afternoon (Friday) at about 3.17pm in Callaghan Park trained PERSEVERE. Nikki and her mother made the marathon trip from Rockhampton commencing on Wednesday. I am loathe to over publicise young jockeys as over the years I have seen far too many go off the tracks from “believing in their own publicity’’. That ethos is just not restricted to young jockeys in the racing industry or any industry for that matter. However, I can’t see that happening with Nikki and the other talented young Rockhampton apprentices that we now have based here. Just for the record 18-Y-O Nikki Olzard since commencing race riding on May 27 at Gladstone has ridden 18 winners in just three months and a week. She has well and truly adopted to being ON THE ROAD AGAIN riding at Longreach, Thangool, Barcaldine, Springsure, Mackay, Alpha, Emerald, Middlemount, Yeppoon, Dingo and Bluff. I heard a rumour that Nikki may soon feature in an advertisement for the RACQ. Good luck Nikki and all who are ON THE ROAD AGAIN.

DRIVE SAFELY AND AS ALWAYS HAPPY HORSES -Tony McMahon.  

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