Racing AROUND Capricornia with Tony McMahon.
Published 11 October 2023
Do you ever answer your own questions? I certainly do. Don’t we have some excellent racing coming up in the weeks ahead in the Capricornia region? The answer is a racing certainty – we certainly do! Which reminds me of the old adage about horse racing. “The only certainty in racing is its uncertainty”. Enough of that scuttlebutt and down to facts. It all gets underway this coming Saturday out at Emerald’s Pioneer Park racecourse for the feature race meeting of the year in the Central Highlands – Emerald 100 Day. It has been said before and It will be said again – Emerald 100 race day is the Emerald Jockey Club’s equivalent to Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington. A more comparable analogy in recent times is that it is Emerald’s equivalent to The Everest Day at Royal Randwick. The irony is that both features, the world’s richest sprint race on turf the $20M The Everest and the $15K Emerald 100 will both be run this coming Saturday. Whereas the 10 races Randwick meeting will offer a mind boggling $31,610,000 in stakes, the Emerald 100 meeting some 1463 kilometres away has a total prize money purse of $57,500 for the five-race card. As far as the Emeraldites are concerned, that matters little as the thousands that cram Pioneer Park, Emerald on Saturday will party just as hard and have a massive day just as their city counterparts at Randwick. Want to know something else? The fashions at Pioneer Park and Emerald may not have the price tags attached of the Sydney society set at Randwick, but they will be worn and presented articulately. Pioneer Park racecourse Emerald will transform to a kaleidoscope of colour and radiance both on the first-class turf track and it’s surrounds. The Emerald 100 was first run in 1965, the year that Bart Cummings won the first of his 12 Melbourne Cups with Light Fingers. Rockhampton racing stakeholders have always played a big role in the running of the Emerald 100, so named as it offered a purse of 100 pounds – a huge sum in that era. Lucky it was not inaugurated in 1966 when decimal currency came in as it may have just been worth just a mere 100 dollars? Supposition, I know! The first running was won by Jacator ridden by Rockhampton’s Harry Hone. Tim Horn ridden by Emerald’s Noel Coyne won the 1966 edition on the Arthur Meeks trained Central Highlander. Arthur was the grandfather of Rockhampton steward Gary Meek who officiates as the chief stipe these days at numerous country race meetings through the Central Highlands and Central West.
Rockhampton trainer Tom Smith and the owner groups of Bayerische headed by the “Happy Plumber” Bear Rawlinson are chasing back-to-back Emerald 100 wins with him to be ridden by Rockhampton based Chris McIver who is in trophy race winning form this season. Chris has won the recent Dingo Cup (Not Another), the Gladstone Cup (Kobe Rocks) and the Noel Howard Memorial Thangool Newmarket on none other than Bayerische. If by any chance you are in the vicinity of the Maraboon Tavern, Emerald on Saturday night and Bayerische happens to have won the Emerald 100, make sure you go on in and celebrate with Bear Rawlinson. I can highly recommend it after last year’s winning celebration. Bear and his ilk are fabulous for racing and good luck again old son. I must say however that I believe the Kristie Clark-Peoples Callaghan Park trained Centaur is going to be very hard to beat in the Emerald 100. With top gun Central Western jockey Robert Fraer making a rare appearance at Emerald for the ride, Centaur as a Longreach Cup winner and runner-up again this year, looks weighted to win on the minimum of 55kg. There is a lot at stake on Saturday as the winner of the Emerald 100 automatically qualifies for the $200,000 Country Cups challenge Final (1600m) at Doomben on December 2. Centaur was third placed to Raymond Williams ‘Emerald trained Echo Point in that race last year in Brisbane. “His preparation last year was a little rushed by personal circumstances and I am aware that his runs have to be well spaced and that is the way I have planned it this year. I would dearly love to win the Emerald race and certainly the big one in Brisbane if I can get Centaur qualified in plenty of time. I had Hi Harry placed in the Brisbane final a few years back”, Kristie told me this afternoon (Thursday). Lots more Rocky racing stakeholders heading out to Emerald on Saturday for a you beaut day of racing and fellowship (sorry also fellowette-ship). A reminder from Leigh-Shields of the Emerald Jockey Club there will be no ATM’s available on course on Saturday at Emerald. So, bring plenty of folding- you know moola – as in CASH.
It will be a big-back-up for many in the seven days after the Emerald 100 as the Rockhampton Jockey Club’s feature race day of the year – St Peter’s School Caulfield Cup Day races follows on Saturday, October 21. This is the race meeting to be “seen at “in Rockhampton and it is always a spectacular day of racing, fashion fun and excitement. The Rockhampton Jockey Club on this Facebook Page and on the Callaghan Park, website have all the details for those of you who didn’t get in early with bookings. Callaghan Park racecourse will be dressed to its resplendent best to impress for the occasion. Also, the day will coincide with the official opening of the new administration and dining and members and guests viewing complex and deck overlooking the enclosure. It is a spectacular new concept to view racing at Callaghan Park and won’t it be in demand for all sorts of functions held there away from Raceday? Looks awesome – that’s the word these days, isn’t it? There I go again, questioning myself.
Rockhampton jockeys Ashley Butler and Dale Evans along with apprentices Brooke Johnson and Erin Molloy (more on Erin in ON THE ROAD AGAIN) and trainer Clinton Taylor go highway driving up to Home Hill’s TAB races tomorrow (Thursday). Congratulations to Barcaldine apprentice Taylor Leslight on winning the RQ Country Apprentice of the Year Title for the 2022-23 season. Have a lot of time for Tyler. Gladstone Turf Club’s extravaganza, the Cox Plate races coming up on Saturday week, October 28. Even old race callers like yours truly have difficulty concentrating and keeping the binoculars focused on the fillies on the racetrack as opposed to the magnificent fashions displayed by the feminine gender at Gladstone race meetings on the lawns. In all sincerity, Gladstone ladies and gents of all ages love to display the latest fashions at Ferguson Park race meetings there. They are spectacular and stylish and the GTC really know how to put on a show and that will be again the case on Saturday, fortnight. I’m just about worn out (forgive the pun – worn-out – fashions – get it?) but then it’s all on again at Keppel Park racecourse Yeppoon for the Derby Day race meeting on Saturday, November 4. That brings about another edition of the Country Cups Challenge heats – Yeppoon style over 1400m.
Along with a big gathering of racing and former harness racing identities, we celebrated the life of Rockhampton Jockey Club trainer Phillip Burke at the Rockhampton Memorial Gardens Cemetery Chapel at Nerimbera on Tuesday. It was a moving ceremony and conducted with the ease and relaxed manner albeit professionally – mannerisms that were traits of Phillip Burke. I was sincerely privileged to present the Eulogy on behalf of Phillips immediate family, wife Barb son Simon and daughter Kimberly. I spoke of four of the qualities for which Phillip Burke (01/06/1954-16/9/2023) was renowned. In order I was witness to them as Phillip portrayed Love of Family; Love of Horses; Sense of Humour and Courage. My friend Phillip was á brave man who was a living example of the words of that famous poet Adam Lindsay Gordon “Life is full of froth and bubble, but two things stand like stone – kindness in another’s troubles and courage in your own”. My biggest regret is that I did not get to know Phillip many years earlier but like so many other recipients of his friendship, kindness and talents, I will always treasure and be thankful for the times we shared. Thanks for the memories, Phillip Burke RIP.