On The Road AGAIN with Tony McMahon.

Published 6 September 2023

On The Road AGAIN with Tony McMahon.

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The report cards are excellent as are the barrier draws for a trio of top Rockhampton horses ON THE ROAD AGAIN heading south 634km down the Bruce Highway for Doomben races in Brisbane on Saturday. Kevin Miller’s ISIS CARMELLA (R 5- TAB 1), John Wigginton’s IN EVIDENCE (R 6-TAB 1) and Nick Walsh’s BOLLENTE (R 7 -TAB 4) are all rated highly by their trainers in their respective, albeit consecutive races. Furthermore, the trio have on this occasion overcome the hoodoo of the “visitors draw”, a common phenomenon for visiting horses drawing widely in metropolitan races. ISIS CARMELLA, the last start winner of the $100K Cleveland Bay Handicap (1200m) 717kk north of Rocky at Townsville on August 23 has come up trumps with the rails barrier in the 16 strong NMW (1350m). “She has been lucky lately drawing very favourably at her past two starts at barriers 2 and 3. I really think she has a good chance on Saturday and believe the quality of the race is similar to the Townsville one she won last start. The good draw and the 3kg claim from Bailey Wheeler bring her in well I feel (57.5kg – 3kg above the minimum)”, Kevin said. Three starts back in the $200K Battle of the Bush (1200m) at Eagle Farm on June 24, ISIS CARMELLA was poorly drawn overcoming the bad gate of 10 to finishing a sterling 1.03l 2nd/16 to ART BY CONCORDE under 58kg. Miller has had Saturday’s race planned for the month since the Townsville feature win for the Bel Esprit mare which thrives on having her races spaced. The Miller team and their 12 times winner of $393,800 will be ON THE ROAD AGAIN from the early hours of Friday morning.

Not so IN EVIDENCE and BOLLENTE which will be cruising ON THE ROAD AGAIN down the Bruce Highway a long way from their Callaghan Park bases when most of us will be having brekkie (actually, Coco Pops are my favourite -what’s yours?) tomorrow (Thursday) morning. Older statesman BOLLENTE (8Y0), the winner of 16 races from his 45 excursions to the races will mate-up with the much younger IN EVIDENCE (3Y0) with trainer John Wigginton as coachman for the road trip. Both horses reappear in Brisbane as last start winners there and both their trainers suggest they have improved in condition and training. Boom, Brisbane apprentice Bailey Wheeler 18, with 140 wins alongside his name, has retained the ride on IN EVIDENCE which goes for back-to-back wins in a $125K QTIS 3YO Handicap (1350m). “The race is no easier than the one he won on August 19 at Doomben,  but I’m pleased with his progress. If anything, he looks to have improved from the last run and it will have him even tougher again for this 1350 metres race. He’s drawn better at 5 this time opposed to 7 barrier last start. He will carry 1.5kg more but the claim and Bailey now knowing him is in his favour”, Wigginton said of IN EVIDENCE.

Nick Walsh was also upbeat about the chances of BOLLENTE which won his first city race, also on August 19 at Doomben when carrying 59kg (App Cejay Graham) while he has 3.5kg less for senior Luke Tarrant on Saturday. Admittedly, Saturday’s assignment is up in grade to open company (Doomben Mile, 1615m) but Walsh believes the race is not composed of a “standout field”. “The drop in weight will be a help and the good gate of 2 barrier (last start won from gate 8) will also be in his favour. He (BOLLENTE) is tougher and fitter for the last start win and I’m very happy with the way he has come along”, Nick said.  Walsh engaged Luke Tarrant as he believes the experienced natural lightweight jockey will suit BOLLENTE. ‘’I’’ve had a little bit of luck with Luke on a previous trip down there with another horse so I am happy to have him on”, the trainer said.  

The wins of IN EVIDENCE and BOLLENTE on the same Saturday card, August 19 at a Brisbane metropolitan meeting at Doomben highlighted the strength of Rockhampton racing. It was also positive testimony to the training facilities provided by the Rockhampton Jockey Club at Callaghan Park racecourse. A winning double on the same day in Brisbane for Callaghan Park trained horses is very elusive to achieve and rarely occurs. A winning treble, virtually unheard of, would almost assuredly be a first for a trio of Rocky racehorses on the same Saturday metropolitan card. It has always been the ethos that it is “hard enough to even win a race in Brisbane”’. Three is virtually unthinkable on the same card but in ISIS CARMELLA, IN EVIDENCE and BOLLENTE it is within the realms of possibility.  It is racing’s equivalent of “HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL”. Let’s just hope so!

As forecast Rockhampton racing stakeholders who were ON THE ROAD AGAIN for a round trip 670km were in cash at the Mackay Turf Club’s races on Tuesday winning four races. Clinton Taylor (RUSSIAN WHISPER, $8.50), Mark Cochrane (REAL KEY, $17.00), Peter Fleming (CLASS OF ROYALTY, $1.85) and Nick Walsh’s (BEYOND A STAR ($1.90). Warwick Satherley rode a winning double while Brooke Johnson also won a race and was runner-up twice while apprentice Erin Molloy was dually placed as was senior hoop Tasha Chambers. Not forgetting of course jockey Ashley Butler’s winner. Last but no means least was apprentice Tahlia Fenlon landing the prize on John Manzelmann’s GOLDEN ATHENIA ($26.00).  Tahlia was featured in a story on this site on Monday and her words keep ringing in my ears. She was asked about her best winning prospect for trainer John Manzelmann. Tahlia replied – “You never really know with John’s horses as you can have a fair bit of luck with them”. Guess who trained Tahlia’s winner GOLDEN ATHENIA ($26.00) on Tuesday? That’s correct – John Manzelmann.

You won’t have far to go ON THE ROAD AGAIN on Saturday evening, September 16 for the Rockhampton Jockey Club’s ‘’’Rockhampton Racing Industry Achievements Awards”. Takes place in The Members Lounge at Callaghan Park from 6.30pm to 8.30pm. Get in touch with the RJC for more details or just keep an eye on these sites.

HAPPY HORSES – TONY MCMAHON.

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