Racing AROUND Capricornia with Tony McMahon.

Published 16 November 2023

Racing AROUND Capricornia with Tony McMahon.

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Emerald trainer Raymond Williams looks like playing a strong hand in the finals of the $200K Country Cups Challenge (1600m) and $105K Country Stampede (1110m) at Doomben on December 2. Last year Williams won the rich CCC Final with the Les Tilley ridden Echo Point which he has qualified again for the same race this year. This came about per medium of Echo Point’s last start win in a Blackall Qualifier when Mt Isa jockey Dan Ballard rode the Sebring 6yo gelding to victory on October 21 under 64kg. I would not be at all surprised, if Ballard a former gun Brisbane apprentice in his featherweight days, gets the call up to ride him again at Doomben. Echo Point is rather sparingly raced and in the main his runs are well spaced. Since the Doomben win last December, Echo Point has raced eight times for two wins and two placings as suitable races aren’t easy to find for him. Echo Point has an interesting background. He cost $320K when purchased by Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott at the 2019 Inglis Premier Sale as a yearling. They managed to win just a $34,000 Kembla Maiden (1500m) with him before he was bought by clients of Barcaldine trainer Todd Austin from an online sale for $20K in October 2021. Austin had success with the gelding before losing his trainers brief which brought about the transfer to Williams. The Barcaldine racing savvy brothers Gavin and Kerrod Power are part of the owners’ group of Echo Point. I wouldn’t be too perturbed with Echo Point’s unplaced run at Mackay on Thursday (November 17) as I believe he will be all the fitter for the run on which he weakened in the straight. As well as Echo Point, Ray Williams has qualified the well-bred Capitalist 4YO gelding Entrepreneurial for the Stampede Final. This resulted from it’s win for Barcaldine’s Chandler family out at Moranbah last Saturday. Entrepreneurial also has a readable history. It was originally sold as a weanling through Inglis in 2020 for just $16k. Then as a yearling at the Magic Millions Gold Coast National Sale in 2021 it fetched $150K when purchased by Victoria’s Shane Nichol’s Racing. The horse only won a Seymour Maiden for Nichol’s exactly a year to the day before it’s Moranbah win for Williams last Saturday. He had previously won with him at Taroom. The Chandlers purchased Entrepreneurial for $19K at an online sale in July. When I interviewed Raymond Williams after the Moranbah win out at the well -attended (1000m) meeting at Treasure Park racecourse last Saturday, I congratulated him on having two horses to represent the stable at Doomben on December 2. He quipped with a tinge of confidence “it might be three there yet as I have old Ahwahneechee in at Clermont in a qualifier next Saturday”. “Old’ Ahwahneechee, a 9YO has won 13 races under Raymond Williams’ care since he acquired him in January 2021. As well he ran second in the 2021 Stampede Final at Doomben beaten a length by the oddly named V J Day (USA). True to his word sure enough Ahwahneechee is top weight with 62kg at Clermont on Saturday with one of his rivals being stablemate Entrepreneurial. At Clermont the old cove line’s up for his 66th race start. 

Good fields at Clermont and interesting to see that Rockhampton trainer Nick Walsh has Single Honor (Warwick Satherley) starting in the $12.5K Stampede Qualifier (1000m). Rarely does Walsh travel his horses to faraway country meetings but it is apparent that he and his very supportive stable patron, Winton’s Clarrie Hermann are hoping to qualify Single Honor for the Brisbane race. Single Honor fetched $240K at the MM Yearling Sale before later being sold online to Victorian trainer Gavin Bedggood for $25K as a tried horse. That stable only won a race at Colac with the horse which was subsequently purchased by Hermann for an undisclosed amount. With three wins for Walsh at Thangool, Rockhampton and Emerald, the sprinter is suitably paced at Clermont with 55kg. Last Saturday, Nick Walsh would have been 992km away from Clermont at Doomben races where his pair Queen Assassin and Fine Shot were each placed third.

Good to see jockey Emma Bell back riding at her home base Clermont when her father Billy Bell is a high ranking official with the Clermont Race Club. Last Saturday at Moranbah, Emma had to complete an online cognitive test as part of the requirements as well as a medical clearance for jockeys these days who fall or are dislodged in races or trackwork. This is required on concussion protocols and good to see. It all unfolded after Emma, 35 was dislodged from Alleluia in a Barcaldine race on November 4. Alleluia (excuse the pun) that Emma, who has won 20 races on her home track passed the test with flying colours. Emma’s parents Jenny and Billy are her keenest supporters. Depending on which online source you seek, Emma has ridden either 166 or 167 winners all up. Good effort as she has battled hard to keep her weight in check. Bred to ride, both Jenny and Billy were talented in the saddle as are a long line of the Bell family. Emma, I hope you bring up your 21st winner at Clermont on Saturday and who knows it could be on your mum the trainer’s horse She’s, Our Empress. 

It was a very successful day of racing at Moranbah last Saturday where the ladies rode the card. Tash Chambers won the QTIS Maiden (1000m) on the Peter Fleming Callaghan Park trained Whittington gelding Whittlesford by a seven lengths margin. More country wins coming up for that cove, especially on sand or dirt. Chambers combined with Mackay’s Tracy Simmons to win the next race the 0-55 (1000m) with tough as teak Act Of Royalty. Four days earlier Act Of Royalty was first past the post at Gladstone in what was declared a “no race”.  Then Today (Thursday -16/11) Act Of Royalty raced again at Mackay and had an interrupted run in the straight before getting out and finishing unplaced. Act Of Royalty’’s Moranbah win brought-up Tracy Simmons’ fourth winner for the week. Less than an hour later at Moranbah her Lucia Maria (Gabrielle Semmens) made if five for the week for her while that mare had also won four days earlier at Mackay. Tracy Simmons and her brother the trainer John Manzelmann have the happy knack of being able to “back-up” their horses after short intervals and have them race very well. Must be that sea air coming off the ocean beside their beachside complexes at Mackay. Also, their horse rarely do testing trackwork at Mackay racecourse. Bowen apprentice Gabrielle Semmens is a willing traveler, and she also rode a double at Moranbah when Entrepreneurial won the Qualifier. Then the feature race, the Moranbah Cup (1550m) was won by heavyweight Mackay apprentice Shae Nielson with the Bevan Johnson trained Sole Heir which carried 65.5kg less Shae’s 3kg claim. If there was a prize for the “ride of the day” Nielsen would have won hands down as she hugged the rails on the winner. The run came when some of the horses shifted on the home turn and then it was all over Red Rover.  You would swear that Shae blew George Moore’s whistle (old timers reckon Moore blew a whistle and the runs then came for him). Only joking Shae but it was a top ride. Opportunities are far and few between for Shae as she struggles to ride at 59kg. Sole Heir was her ninth winner for the 27-year-old and Bevan Johnson deserves kudos for engaging her whereby Soul Heir did not have to carry too much dead weight.

Races coming up at Rockhampton on Tuesday before Emerald’s card on Saturday, November 25. Rockhampton again on Friday, December 1 and the next day, Saturday, December 2 out to Thangool. Rockhampton again on Saturday, December 9 while back to Gladstone on Saturday, December 16. Magic Millions Country Cup Qualifier at Callaghan Park, Rockhampton on Thursday December 21. Then guess what? Christmas Day, December 25. The racing festivities continue on Boxing Day, Tuesday, December 26 with the annual Calliope Cup races. 

Happy Horses – Tony McMahon.   

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