Racing AROUND Capricornia with Tony McMahon.

Published 2 November 2023

Racing AROUND Capricornia with Tony McMahon.

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Without question the best field ever to contest a race at Yeppoon’s Keppel Park racecourse will contest Saturday’s thrilling $15K G.J. Gardner Yeppoon Cup/Country Cups Challenge Qualifier (1400m). It is nothing short of astounding that 15 of the 16 original entries for the race accepted to start when fields were drawn this morning (Thursday). Only the Kristie-Clark Peoples Rockhampton trained Centaur did not accept. That is not surprising as Centaur through the Emerald 100 has already qualified for the $200K Final at Doomben in early December. I went into detail about the likely quality of the Yeppoon Cup in a story on this site earlier this week so I will avoid being too repetitious. The final field now for Saturday, in Centaur’s absence, has won approximately $2.62 million in prizemoney between them and won in total 103 races. Horses and trainers come from a very wide cross section of Queensland for the race. It is going to be a bobby dazzler being run at 3.30pm. For mine, the form horse of the field is Roma trainer Craig Smith’s Art By Concorde (Liv O’Donnell) which has won its last four starts. Among these was the $200K Battle of the Bush Final (1200m) at Eagle Farm in June before spelling. Whatever way you look at the race, it will be no pushover which ever horse wins as it is such a strong form race. The YTC program is the best the club has scheduled in many years so let’s hope as many as possible get down there to Keppel Park for top class racing and of course fashions. Racing commences at 1.30pm in which the Kerrod Smyth trained Spiccato (Olivia Kendall) has by far the best credentials to win. 

Following on from the Yeppoon Cup will be another outstanding day of racing, fashions and entertainment out at Moranbah (Nov 11) for the MRC’s biggest event of the year. It is the Moranbah Miner’s Memorial Race Day, and it is a beauty and Treasure Park racecourse will be filled to the brim. The Moranbah Race Club is very proactive, and the spacious track lends itself to on and off pace horses. I reckon Kobe Rocks (NZ), Queensland’s current sand track King would be at home there, but he has bigger fish to fry in a few weeks’ time at Roma. The MRC Facebook page is well worth examining and it will provide all the info folks need. The town itself has excellent facilities and there are some first class venues to sample for hospitality there on Saturday night week. I am sure if you were first timers at both Treasure Park racecourse Moranbah and the town itself you would be pleasantly surprised. It is quite a well-kept secret in many ways and while a four-hour drives from Rockhampton, it is worth the effort. Over $80K in prizemoney is on offer at Moranbah. A $13,500 heat of the Country Stampede Qualifier (1170m) ensures that there will be some talented racehorses in action there. 

What a show the Gladstone Turf Club created at Ferguson Park racecourse there last Saturday. David Weinert the GTC president said the attendance figures were 2000. Quite frankly David I felt it was more, that’s how big it was. If Gladstone isn’t the best sand track in Queensland, I don’t know what is? It was presented once again in fantastic condition; I believe by resident trainer and curator Denis Schultz. Racing was first class with the Bevan Johnson trained Han Dynasty (Olivi Kendall) winning the Open Handicap (850m). Olivia from Ipswich is not long back from an extended time off after a nasty accident when dislodged from a horse in a Mackay race last November. She resumed riding about six-week ago and has ridden three winners since. More surgery is likely pending on the right leg which is currently plated. Believe me, Olivia has the makings of a first-class jockey as like a talent scout, I noticed her skills way back on the country circuit last year. Won’t be at all surprised if Olivia, Han Dynasty and former resident Moranbah trainer Bevan Johnson will be in action out there on Saturday week. Hold your horses Tony, just called up the entries for Mt Isa on Melbourne Cup Day and sure enough Han Dynasty the winner of 15 races and seven placings from 27 starts is entered out there. Back to Gladstone where last Saturday I called a real “sand scratcher” (sand track specialist) in action in the Kale Sinclair trained Take The Lead. It won the BM 55 (1517m) after having the toughest of runs – that’s probably an understatement.  It was caught three wide with the leaders and then contesting the lead for the majority of the race. Despite this Take The Lead kept on keeping on. Then the Hallowed Crown gelding had the audacity under apprentice Brodie Moffat and lumping 59.5kg to run away and win by 2.5 lengths. I know the quality of rivals in the race was mediocre, but horses just don’t do what Take The Lead did last Saturday. After the race young Thangool trainer Kale Sinclair remarked “he likes the sand”. That is correct as Take The Lead has now won three from three on the Ferguson Park sand circuit and I speculate many more will come.

Horses either handle sand tracks or they don’t – simple as that. I recall taking our good mare Shrouded down to race at Gladstone once and she hopped, skipped and jumped like a kangaroo when she felt the sand after leaving the barriers. Had the race been on turf I suggest it would have been an entirely different story. Shrouded won seven on the turf at Callaghan Park and another at Townsville. I just checked her stats and that very forgettable day at Ferguson Park when she despised the sand took place on Saturday, August 11, 2018, and she carried 64kg under Mark Barnham. I know what became of Shrouded (stud) but not so clear on what became of “Barney”. Over the years Barney” and I won many a race but not that day at Gladstone where for a many, many years earlier Barnham reigned as the gun. That’s when Gladstone raced every Saturday. This leads me to another Thangool horse trained by the very capable Damien Rideout in Creedemption a former grass-tracker from the New England Tablelands district in NSW. Creedemption was having its first start for Damien last Saturday and also on a sand track after a last start win on the grass at Barraba in NSW. Creedemption didn’t go a yard on the sand and finished 21.5 lengths second last. Jockey Warwick Satterley simply stated the patently obvious “didn’t handle the sand”. I notice Creedemption is listed to start at Keppel Park on Saturday in a tough Cl B. I’m not suggesting for a moment it can win but it won’t be beaten 21.5 lengths either. 

Racing on Tuesday, Melbourne Cup Day goes back to Ferguson Park, Gladstone where entries are sound. Wasn’t so many years back that the Gladstone Turf Club raced on Cup morning and then the jockeys hightailed it with trainers back to the RJC’s afternoon meeting at Callaghan Park. For the record there are 11 race meetings in Queensland this coming Tuesday. None are at Callaghan Park, but a social Cup party is planned for the Lounge and Deck there on Cup Day. Checkout this Facebook Page for bookings. 

Happy Horses all – Tony McMahon and hope you back the Cup winner!

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