Racing AROUND Capricornia with Tony McMahon.

Published 31 August 2023

Racing AROUND Capricornia with Tony McMahon.

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To ensure that everybody is aware, just a repeat serve here. There will be no racing at Rockhampton’s Callaghan Park racecourse during September with the annual track maintenance having commenced on the grass course proper yesterday Wednesday (August 30). The two-meetings scheduled by the Rockhampton Jockey Club for September on Tuesday the 12th and Tuesday the 26th will be staged at the Yeppoon Turf Club’s track at Keppel Park.  As the latter meeting falls within the Queensland school holiday period, it provides the RJC an excellent opportunity to go all out and promote that race day to holiday makers on the Capricorn Coast. I have always maintained that Keppel Park racecourse Yeppoon is a hidden gem.

Once again Rockhampton racing stakeholders played a dominant role at the Bluff-Blackwater Race Club’s well attended Cup meeting at Bluff racecourse last Saturday. Chris McIver built on his recent Gladstone and Dingo Cup wins during the previous fortnight by winning the BM 55 (1000m) on resident trainer Bill Trimble’s Super Slick which naturally is trained on the track. The Bluff sandy/loam/dirt track isn’t the easiest to win on, so in this instance it was a “horses for courses” popular win for Bill and his crew. Bill’s other two starters Persaga and Delius finished second in their respective events. Now I am sure Bill won’t mind me saying this, but he is “no spring chicken) yet he rides all his horses trackwork when required at Bluff.  Super Slick’s win was a good change of luck for Trimble with his last winner being Our Irish Emperor back in October last year. Bill Trimble and his ilk are a diminishing band of senior country-based trainers throughout Queensland and are in my opinion the unsung heroes of the game. These people are involved not for the little monetary outcome that may come their way but more so for the affiliation with the thoroughbred and the love of the game.

Rockhampton apprentice jockeys McKenzie Apel and Brooke Johnson were also in the winner’s list at Bluff. McKenzie (Birdsville bound today Thursday) won on Glenda Bell’s Most Impressive which she races with her nephew, the Buff local and race caller Scott Power. Brooke Johnson teamed with Callaghan Park trainer Kevin Miller to win the $13K Bluff Cup (1800m) with Vana Star. The Memorial race, a 0-55 Handicap (1300m) which was in part testimony to the late Ron Beak was won by Ipswich visiting trainer Beau Gorman’s Dante Aligheri (Nicole Seymour). Ron passed away last October aged 85 and with wife Val of 59 years ran a cattle property Dunluce in the Bluff district. In the race book, Scott Power penned some background on Ron Beak’s involvement with the local Bluff race club. “The late Ron Beak was one of the main driving forces behind the club back in the seventies and eighties when he would volunteer labour and machinery to assist in getting the facilities ready to race. We had six to eight meetings a year back then when there were up to five trainers in the area”, Scott penned. I know myself that throughout his lifetime Ron was also heavily involved with Rockhampton’s Central Queensland Amateur Race Club, now known as the Rocky Amateurs. Ron and Val raced numerous top-class horses which achieved high standards at Callaghan Park including Star Chat and Divine City which later raced with distinction in the capital cities. Val Beak was on hand to present the winning trophy for the Ron Beak Memorial race. Val is pictured in the presentation photography after the race as part of four generations of the Beak family. Trainer Beau Gorman is nearest winner Dante Alighiere, Val Beak, son Geoffrey, grandson Jessee Beak holding baby son Dominic with presenter Scott Power. It will be a treasured family photo. 

Capricornia racing and indeed country racing in general in these parts of the woods owe a huge vote of gratitude to Mackay trainer John Manzelmann. At the Bluff meeting last Saturday, the trainer provided no fewer than 12 of the 32 starters. Also on Saturday, John had a team of horses running at Cairns where he won the Cairns Cup of $150K with The Driller. Back to Capricornia. On Saturday August 22, Manzelmann saddled five of the 25 starters at Dingo and on July 29 had a massive 14 of the 36 runners at Middlemount.  Sure, there is weight in numbers, but John only won race at Bluff. John with his partner the jockey Jade Doolan oversees a huge operation of almost 40 horses regularly in training. The logistics of transporting so many starters to race at a single or dual meeting on the same day are enormous. The team from Bluff encountered mechanical problems on the return trip after the races to Mackay which stretched out to over six hours arriving back at their Mackay stables at 12pm. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to determine that some country race clubs meetings would be in a grave peril if not for the Manzelmann runners. It is scary to think what might happen if John called it quits. All country race clubs that the Manzelmann team support should throw out the red carpet to him.  

The Emerald jockey Club must be delighted with the roll-up for this Saturday’s races at Pioneer Park racecourse with 63 acceptors for the five-race program. Certainly, for a pleasant change, no dependence there on John Manzelmann’s runner, but he will be taking five down to race there. Rockhampton trainers will provide 10 starters on what must be the best-off season meeting staged at Emerald. Horses and trainers are arriving from Ilfracombe, Blackall, Gold Coast, Mackay, Barcaldine, Longreach, Clermont, Thangool, Bluff and of course Rockhampton. It is a similar scenario with jockeys. Jockey Jason Hoopert will arrive from up Mt Isa some 1063km away. Jason’s passion for photography and skill with a camera will ensure some brilliant photographs of the occasion and I look forward to seeing them. It promises to be a fabulous meeting for the hard-working volunteers that steer the Emerald Jockey Club. The EJC’s Emerald 100 meeting which is folklore in the town is fast approaching on Saturday, October 14. It is not to be missed by connoisseurs of country racing, Go to the Emerald Jockey Club Facebook page as tickets go on sale next week. 

The diary for Capricornia and nearby race dates: Tuesday, 5/9 Mackay; Sat, 9/9 Thangool Cup; Tuesday, 12/9 Yeppoon; Sat, 16/9 Springsure Cup, Friday, 22/9 and Sat, 23/9, Twin Hills; Tues ,26/9 Yeppoon; Sat, 30/9 Gladstone and Mackay; Tuesday, Oct 2 Emerald (TAB) and Sunday, October 9 back to Callaghan Park, Rockhampton.     

Happy Horses – Tony McMahon.

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