Racing AROUND Capricornia with Tony McMahon.

Published 21 September 2023

Racing AROUND Capricornia with Tony McMahon.

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The Rockhampton Jockey Club have had a good response from trainers for the meeting to be held at Keppel Park, Yeppoon next Tuesday. Some 72 entries were taken for the seven-race TAB program. There were excellent responses to both Maiden Handicaps, the QTIS Class 1 and the 0-58 Ratings Band Handicap. On paper even before the final fields are declared on Friday, it is shaping up as a very good program of racing. Racing returns to Callaghan Park on Sunday, October 8 for an eight race TAB. From all reports the Callaghan Park grass track has undergone a very successful annual refurbishment since the last race meeting there on August 29. It should be in pristine condition for its rebirth on Sunday fortnight. Yes, definitely correct SUNDAY!

Good friends of the RJC, the Magic Millions has catalogues out for the upcoming 2023 2YO’S In Training Sale at the Gold Coast at its Bundall Sales complex on Tuesday, October 24 commencing at midday. Some 145 youngsters are catalogued. Breeze-Up dates to remember are Seymour, Thursday, September 28; Newcastle, October 4 and the Gold Coast on Thursday, October 5 and Friday, October 20. I remember many years ago they were conducted at Callaghan Park racecourse in Rockhampton as I broadcast them. In 2023 the operation has been very much fine-tuned. The concept for the uninitiated is that you can watch the 2YO’s catalogued galloping in designated ‘’breeze-ups” in the lead-up to them being auctioned. All the videos of their gallops are available and explained and how they are accessible in the MM sales catalogues.

Massive few days of racing coming up this weekend, which for this purpose I shall include Friday. The “Twin Hills” annuals which have developed something akin to a cult following gets up and racing on Friday with the backup on Saturday. A whopping $145K in prize money is distributed over the two days of racing which coincides with a very busy camp draft and rodeo agenda. Twin Hills is located on private property north of Clermont. I have never had the pleasure of attending the Twin Hills meetings but those many people I know who regularly attend each year “swear by it”. The venue is so popular with thousands of patrons that this year numbers have been capped with “emergencies’” drawn up on a waiting list if there are any scratchings from the campers and caravanners. Twin Hills is by all accounts an amazing back-to-basics experience. Starry nights are full of fun around the campfires and at Twin Hills the three “Noes” are law – No power, No lights and No mobile phone coverage. Sounds like an ideal spot for a honeymoon. What memories!

 Speaking of Twin Hills – how far is it from Rocky?  It is a 517km drive but may take even longer towing a caravan or campervan that the 5 hours and 36 minutes some sites suggest. Rockhampton and Capricornia racing stakeholders are always great supporters. The two days of racing are reliant on Callaghan Park jockeys. Attending will be apprentices McKenzie Apel, Erin Molloy, Brooke Johnson, Natalie Summers and jockey Damien Boutet. Also, apprentice Gemma Hogg, 30, will be making her riding debut at Twin Hills. They were the only six jockeys declared. Rocky trainers Darryl Johnston and Tim Cook will have starters as will Emerald’s Glenda Bell. Yes, you guessed it folks, country racing’s benefactor, Mackay’s John Manzelmann’s blue colours will be sported on no fewer than 18 horses over the two days of racing. Jonh will provide about 28% of the starters. Meanwhile roughly 400km (some roads out there are rough) north of Twin Hills, the Manzelmann stable will be in action at the two days Ewan Amateur Turf Clubs extravaganza at Garbutt north of Bowen. There he will provide 11 starters in much stronger competition and much bigger fields than Twin Hills. I remember calling a race at Mackay in May 2014 when John Manzelmann provided the entire field. I told you before I know that I said along the lines “the biggest certainty in racing is that trainer John Manzelmann will win this race”. Well, I reckon there is another racing certainty that “John Manzelmann will win the $1200 cash for being leading trainer at Twin Hills”. 

Keeping to the theme of this column, “Racing Around Capricornia”- haven’t we got some meetings coming up in the district. I’ll list them all up to the end of November so you can be prepared and plan. Ahead. I never forget the line that Peter Sterling threw out at a racing function I figured in at Newcastle in March 2010. “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail”. Stuck with me that one. Tuesday, Sept 26 – Yeppoon; Saturday, Sept 30, Gladstone; Tuesday, October 3, Emerald; Sunday, October 8, Rockhampton; Saturday, October 14, Emerald’s Melbourne Cup “Emerald 100”; Saturday, October 21, Rockhampton’s St Peter’s Caulfield Cup Day; Friday, October 27, Rockhampton; Saturday, October 28, Gladstone; Saturday, November 4, Yeppoon Cup; Tuesday, November 7, Gladstone; Friday, November 10, Rockhampton; Saturday, November 11, Moranbah. Saturday, November 18, Clermont; Tuesday, November 21, Rockhampton; Saturday, November 25, Emerald. After that folks it will be “beginning to look a lot like Christmas”.  

Finally, didn’t the Rockhampton crew clean up at Mackay’s TAB races last Tuesday. I hear you saying – “don’t they always”? Of course, but Tuesday was exceptional as our stakeholders played a role in all the winners of the entire seven race program. Clinton Taylor won with Brand New ridden by Justin Stanley who we can claim as an adoptee of Rockhampton. Clutching at straws a little claiming Tom Button, the trainer to be one of ours but he was leading RJC trainer for 5 consecutive years – anyhow he trained Mister Selfie to win there. Rockhampton apprentice jockey Tahlia Fenlon landed her 120th winner; McKenzie Apel her 11th on Ricky Vale’s Freckle Rock; Erin Molly’s 19th; Brooke Johnson’s 53rd and then Ashley Butler brought up his 648th winner on Callaghan Park trainer Mark Cochrane’s Real Key.  Congratulations to Mark by the way as he has the 9Y0 Real Key racing in grand zest by winning his past two starts at Mackay consecutively. The old boy Real Key has figured in five stable transfers during his long career and Mark is the only one of his trainers to win consecutive races and to do it with a 9Y0 is certainly a good trick.

Happy Horses Tony McMahon.

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