Racing AROUND Capricornia with Tony McMahon.
Published 27 September 2023
Certainly, some great racing coming up around Capricornia and in the surrounding regions in the next couple of weeks. Before progressing there, firstly I just have to share this accompanying picture that I snapped on Tuesday afternoon. To be honest I was gob smacked when I visited Callaghan Park racecourse on Tuesday afternoon. The picture does not do the objective justice – that is the Callaghan Park straight. The well-worn expression “as green as grass is applicable”. To be truthful during my 35 years of track watching at Callaghan Park, I have never seen the straight look so pristine. The grass coverage is thickly matted, and it augurs well for the return to racing in Rockhampton on Sunday week, October 8.
The Emerald Jockey Club is gearing for two colossal days of racing over the next fortnight at Pioneer Park, racecourse. The club must be delighted with the bumper number of 73 nominations for next Tuesday’s seven race TAB program. Entries have come in from trainers all over the place. These include horses from stables in Rockhampton, Barcaldine, Longreach, Roma, Mackay, Bluff, Chinchilla, Thangool, Clermont, Middlemount, Bowen and Toowoomba. Sorry, almost forgot the Emeraldlites of course. Prior to the Barcaldine track being converted to turf not than many years back, Emerald was the last outpost out west for a turf track. Next Tuesday’s races at Pioneer Park are the forerunners to Emerald’s Melbourne Cup Day of the year – Saturday, October 14, being the Emerald 100 race meeting. It is a huge day and one of country racing’s best in Queensland. Hopefully, a good proportion of the horses racing in next Tuesday’s $15K Open (1615m) have been set for the $15,000 Emerald 100 (1850m). That race is part of the Country Cups Challenge Qualifier. Last year’s winner Bayerische, trained by Rockhampton’s Tom Smith, is likely to chase two consecutive Emerald 100 wins. “He will run in the Eidsvold Cup (1350m) on October 7 and all going well it is hoped to back him up in the 100 out at Emerald the following Saturday”, Tom Smith said late today.
Tom Smith was very popular with the “ladies” after Step This Way, raced by a well know syndicate of women including Telemon Thoroughbred’s Rae Fletcher and Leonie Carr, the wife of RJC chairman Rob won at that club’s transferred meeting at Keppel Park, Yeppoon on Tuesday. Must not forget of course the trainer’s sister Sam Conway is also a lucky part owner. Step This Way, a 4YO mare by resident Telemon stallion Sidestep from Azagone sold for $47,500 at a Magic Millions sale a few years back. She has more than returned the purchase price with prize money in the vicinity of $74,000. Her win in the 0-58 (1200m) can be attributed to a first-class ride from Jackson Murphy. That’s not taking away any credit whatsoever from Tom Smith. Jackson is like so many of the Fly In – Fly Out jockeys who service the TAB circuit up this way, in that he is very much underscored when it comes to ability. Given the right cattle, Jackson rates alongside the best of the FIFO hoops. Just watch his ride on winner Step This Way on the RQ race replay site of the sixth race at Yeppoon on Tuesday and if you don’t rate it a brilliant ride you are hard to please.
Good to see a diversity of trainers and jockeys winning races on the Prostrate Cancer race day at Yeppoon. It gets down to the fact it would be abnormal not to see premier FIFO hoop Ryan Wiggins not among the winners up this way. A double to Ryan at Keppel Park through Ricky Vale’s impressive John Milne Memorial Maiden (1200m), winner Livin’Our Grace and Jared Wehlow’s Letmeletgo victor of the BM 70 (1400m). Very pleased to see that flying machine Aspen Lad win for Natalie Summers and trainer Darryl Johnston. Jockey Warwick Satherley got some “holiday” (courtesy of stewards) expenses for his week off winning on Graeme Green’s Leibert Lass. The win would have helped to offset trainer Green’s recent holiday exes. Mark down the run of third placed, the debutant gelding The Cranoch as a horse to follow. The Neil Vagg family race The Cranoch, a daughter of that brilliant grey Bagger Vance mare Aspiran which is now 18 years old and still I believe alive and well. Aspiran won 14 races before retiring in 2011 accruing almost a quarter of a million in prizemoney – massive for the time. She was indeed a starlet in Rocky racing under old mate trainer Vic Vagg who won with her in Brisbane. Back at Keppel Park, Rocky trainer Kevin Hansen and jockey Adam Sewell saluted with Sweet Fantasy in the 0-55 (1400m). Then the last race there, the Cl 1 (1000m) went to Clinton Taylor and Dan McGillivray with I’m Pinker. All round a good day’s racing and thanks to the volunteers of the Yeppoon Turf Club for hosting and working at the races.
Last but not least, regarding good racing coming up, the Gladstone Turf Club will have its best race meeting for ages at the very well-appointed Ferguson Park racecourse on Saturday. Almost 50 entries for the afternoon of racing and it should be a very competitive program. A sprinkling of Rockhampton stakeholders will be involved. Always a great day out and looking forward to calling all of the winners home there on Saturday.
Hopefully, we will be back ON THE ROAD AGAIN tomorrow.
Happy Horses Tony McMahon.