Racing AROUND Capricornia

Published 3 March 2023

Racing AROUND Capricornia

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Glad to be able to report that the “nominations” for the $150K Capricornia Yearling Sale 2YO Classic (1200m) and comparable 3&4YO Classic (1300m) run at Callaghan Park on Saturday, April 1 are very strong.  Some 27 juveniles have been entered for the CYS Classic – Rockhampton’s richest race for 2YO’s. Whatsmore a very healthy entry of 24 for the 3&4YO Classic. This is the first year whereby trainers had to “nominate” for both races. Previously it was an “all in” with eligible graduates from previous Capricornia Yearling Sales just left in until a sign-off date closer to the races. In hindsight it was a very unreliable guide as many on those horses listed were not even in training and in some cases unnamed. The new system is far preferable and gives a fairly accurate guide of the horses being trained for the two rich races. The original sign-in date was last Wednesday but RQ and the RJC have extended entries until Wednesday, March 15 just in case anybody living under a rock was unaware and missed the new scheduling date. Well done to both organisations.

Four race winners are among the 2YO list – Bush Diamond, Ringer’s Reward, Sunnycoast and Track Tale. Sunnycoast (Jamie McConachy) and unbeaten Ricky Vale trained Track Tale clash at Callaghan Park races on Tuesday. Clinton Taylor’s Divine Purpose, Nick Walsh’s Just Super, Kerrod Smyth’s Money Muncher, John Wigginton’s Street Glory, Jamie McConachy’s Tycoon Fury and Tim Cook’s Augustawynd are among the 3&4YO entries. Just Super (which is going just that) races at the Sunshine Coast on Sunday in a $28K QTIS 3YO (1200m) while Augustawynd runs at Bowen on Saturday with other Tim Cook runners. All eyes will be on Divine Purpose when it trials at Callaghan Park on Wednesday. Plenty of interest at Bowen races Saturday where Rocky apprentice Tahlia Fenlon hopes to hit and break the 100 wins barrier – just one to go.

Talk about travelling trainers as I have said before I get tired just reporting on their exploits. As far as I am concerned none will compare with Barcaldine’s Mel and Billy Johnson who know the inroads and out roads of country Queensland like no others. They raced at Mt Isa last Saturday and Cunnamulla this Saturday. DISCLOSURE here. They train two horses I purchased as yearlings and previously trained and still retain an interest in. Within minutes of Nouverre Fille running third in a $17.5K QTIS all age group Maiden at Mt Isa last Saturday the Johnson’s social media network was ablaze. Before the race there was a video of Margo (AKA Nouverre Fille) parading, then the race video, then a post-race video of trainer Bill being interviewed and then a post-race video interview with the jockey Tyler Leslight. How good is that? Simply brilliant. These days COMMUNICATION with owners is the big go with training racehorses. Trainers who do not make use of social media to inform their owners are behind the ape ball in my opinion. Everyone hates having to pay a monthly training account and not having heard anything about their horse since the previous bill arrived in the mail (sorry email). Over the years I have heard of owners not even knowing that their horse/horses were to race or worse still had raced. Not good enough. Those days are dead and buried. From what I can see most trainers in Rocky are social media savvy or have someone attracted to their stable who is. Social media is the cheapest form of self-promotion available. Wouldn’t the late great T. J. Smith have loved it. Smith was every racing journalist’s friend. His name was scrolled all over the newspapers in his dominant era. He once said “Myers (and other big brands) pay a fortune to advertise. I get my publicity for free”. Smart man and his daughter Gai Waterhouse who will be here for The Archer on Sunday, April 30 has followed in her father’s footsteps through her close association with the media. Sadly, some trainers just don’t get it that “the best publicity is free pudicity”. 

OK, Mel and Billy Johnson are leaders of the travelling trainers’ pack around the busy roads and inland highways but Rocky trainers Clinton Taylor and Jared Wehlow claim the prize for this jurisdiction. I have blisters on my fingers writing about Clinton’s trips but gee whiz Jared Wehlow’s efforts in last week or so and leading up were pretty tiresome scribblings for me. Where do I start? Oh well Karaka Yearling Sales in NZ. In early February, Jared flew from Rockhampton to Brisbane only to discover his flight to Auckland (Karaka Sales) was cancelled. He then flew to Melbourne and from where he and stable client Mark Walsh crossed “the ditch” and bought two yearlings at the Karaka sales complex Then a flight back to Rocky via Brisbane. A day or so later on Feb 11, Wehlow drove a round trip of 10 hours and 862km to Miles where his horses missed winning. Three days later behind the wheel for an 8 hours 770km R/T to Mackay races. Last Saturday, another trip from Rocky to Mackay before a back-up the highway to Townsville and back last Tuesday. Yesterday (Thursday) headed south to the Gold Coast (1416km and 16 hours R/T) where Akatino and Fresh Prince race on the poly track tomorrow (Saturday, 4/3). My apologies, I got too tired from trying to add-up all the kilometres and hours on the road and in the air. I would never make a travel writer! 

Big country races at Springsure next Saturday, March 11 where the St. Patrick’s Day Race Club celebrate 70 years of racing. Excellent prizemoney on offer and I’ve boasted for years that the trophies this club provide to race winners and stakeholders are simply superb. Keep the date in mind. The very proactive Moranbah Race Club under the guidance of Bianca Bulst race on Saturday, March 25. Jockeys’ shortages are a problem at country race meetings and with this in mind every jockey riding there at Moranbah on March 25 will receive $200 from the club to help allay expenses. Trainers of all unplaced horses which finish back further than fourth in a race will be received $50 per runner. It is a good incentive for all concerned. 

Fabulous to see Bob Murray the trainer son of iconic Burnett region racing man Gentleman Jack Murray 94, who passed away a few weeks ago win a race at Thangool last Monday with Boombrasstic. It wasn’t just any race mind you – it was the Jack Murray Handicap, named in his honour. With the utmost sincerity Jack Murray was the finest gentleman I have met in over my six decades in racing. Forever smiling, Jack lit up everybody’s face who were fortunate enough to have met him when he went racing of a Saturday. Years ago, I was in a dilemma at Thangool races where I was calling at the time and had misplaced (actually forgotten to bring them) my binoculars. I ran into Jack and without a word of lie he said “here take mine”. As it turns out I didn’t want to give them back to Jack at the end of the day. I remember him with a cheeky grin asking me “How were they”? to which I replied “You know how they were Jack – bloody good”. That was Jack Murray with all respect a Bloody good bloke. Jamie McConachy and Jess Ladbrook’s Mr Demolition ran up to his name at Thangool last Monday winning by 7.5 lengths.  See where former CQ flyer, the Mary McKenzie and family owned Lepreezy has been a dual placegetter and a close fourth of late in Brisbane for trainer Annabel Neasham. Just a length or so away from a win so fingers crossed to all concerned.  Sorry to report that the Darryl Johnston trained Townsville winner two starts back Aspen Lad suffered a bleeding attack when fourth at Mackay races last Saturday. Hopefully the speedster, a stable favourite with Johnson and jockey Natalea Summers comes back all the better after a mandatory three months ban from racing. 


Popular social media racing writer Ray See recovering from the very painful knee replacement surgery. Rockhampton trainer Jason Morgan out for at least eight weeks after breaking his leg and ankle after slipping on his new horse float. Dangerous caper this horse training – I should know as I haven’t got much else to break after 37 years at the caper. Another Rocky trainer Laurie Clem hospitalised with a fractured pelvis. Speedy recovery to all concerned.


Tony McMahon

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