Racing AROUND Capricornia with Tony McMahon.
Published 30 November 2023
Busy lead-up to Christmas with race meetings throughout Capricornia. Commences in earnest tomorrow (Friday) with an excellent eight race TAB card at Callaghan Park, Rockhampton. Features a number of very talented horses with the headline act being Chinny Boom in the Open (1100m) run at 4.54pm. Interesting to note that the very skillful Brisbane jockey Justin Huxtable is making his way up to the Rockhampton and Mackay circuit more regularly. Huxtable was booked for five rides at Mackay races today (Thursday) and has six engagements at Callaghan Park. Justin is very tall for a jockey and has to be commended for keeping his weight in order. In the past his irregular Fly-In visits to Rockhampton have resulted in five winners returning close to a 25% winning strike rate. Justin comes north off the back of winning on Hardware Lane at Ipswich races on Wednesday. Now a fully-fledged jockey, the South Australian served the majority his apprenticeship with Chris Munce in Brisbane for whom he rode 60 winners. He could easily be among the winners at Callaghan Park as he combines with local trainer Sileas Green on Robust Boy, Srini and Canny Be Better. For astute visiting trainers Garnett Taylor (Bold and Smooth) and Liam Birchley’s (Unlikely Hero) while also riding Zoe Hohn’s Kamarcher. His other ride and a very good one at that is for trainer Adrian Coome on Moenave. Huxtable is a welcome addition to the ranks of FIFO jockeys servicing Callaghan Park TAB meetings. I would not be surprised if a few more SEQ jockeys even find their way out to Brisbane airport flying north in the not-too-distant future. The riding ranks in Brisbane on the criteria of quality and quantity have never been stronger.
The Callaghan Park circuit certainly looks to be in pristine condition for Friday’s meeting there. RISA reports that 86.5mm of rain was recorded over Callaghan Park in the last 11 days but none on Wednesday or Thursday. Track manager Trent Williams reported to me around 1PM today (Thursday) that Callaghan Park was then rated a Soft 6 and was likely to progress (without any further rain) to a Soft 5 overnight. “It could go onto being a Good 4 for the races”, Trent told me. Sounds like the track will be ideal.
The weekend following on Saturday, December 9 and Sunday, December 10 will also be a very busy one for Capricornia racing stakeholders. The Saturday race meeting at Callaghan Park is billed as The Family Christmas Race Day. It comprises activities galore for all family members most notably the kiddies. Of course, the annual novelty race of the L J Hooker Rockhampton “The Dashy Dash” for the dachshunds has become an annual event and a big hit with all concerned. The local race card is certain to draw much interest. Then on the Sunday, the Emeral Jockey Club will hold it’s Christmas Race Day with attractions similar to the Callaghan Park meeting the day previously but without the puppy dogs racing. With Barcaldine races abandoned from this coming Saturday and additional race, a QTIS BM 60 (1615m) has been added making it a six race Emerald program. All details are on the RJC and EJC website and Facebook pages.
Speaking of Emerald that club’s race caller Scott Power has been awarded the privilege of broadcasting both the Country Cups Challenge Final and the Country Stampede Sprint Final at Doomben on Saturday. It is a feather in the cap for Scott but then again, his cap is covered in feathers. A proud and true Bluff (Bluffonian) resident, Scott called the same two metropolitan races last year. Some years earlier in Brisbane be broadcast the iconic Battle Of The Bush down there. In the nineties Scott was my understudy race caller at Callaghan Park for the Rockhampton Jockey Club. He started calling as a teenager in the eighties when another Bluff local the former race broadcaster Bob Maguire left the district. I recall in an interview I did with Scott in 1989 at the Emerald races when I was writing a piece on him for the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin, that he spoke of his passion for race calling. He related how it commenced with phantom races calls as a youngster. “I will never forget witnessing a race from the commentator’s box at Eagle Farm in 1986 with Wayne Wilson as he described the race on course and on radio. Well Scott will go one better some 37 years later at Doomben on Saturday when his call of the championships, will go worldwide through the SKY Racing networks. Scott will also be on hand to watch son Mitchell’s horse, the Tom Smith Rockhampton trained Acre’s Away contest the Magic Millions Pierata Plate (1200m) at Doomben. A number of Hong Kong and Macau bloodstock advisors will also be watching Acre’s Away closely. From those two Asian countries inquiries filtered through to the connections of Acre’s Away to purchase him.
Happy Horses – Tony McMahon.