Racing AROUND Capricornia

Published 5 January 2023

Racing AROUND Capricornia

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Of course, the big news to come out of the region this week was that Max Whitby became the first of the 12 slot holders to secure a horse for the $775K The Archer (1300m) on Sunday, April 30. Max has got in early and in a coup has announced his runner as the highly talented David Vandyke trained Weona Smartone (NZ). Aptly named, Weona Smartone has won nine of its 13 starts. The horse is being specifically set for The Archer which is a big plus. Behind the scenes over the last month or so rival slot holders in The Archer have been working frantically to “claim a big scalp” to represent them for the colossal Callaghan Park race. I’ll bet Max’s announcement of Weona Smartone has sent a shiver or two up the spines of the other 11 slot holders. All said in jest of course but in competitive ways, negotiations are getting very serious. Callaghan Park racecourse will be packed to the rafters on The Archer Day.

Expect more big news to be announced about The Archer in the coming week. Keep reading the RJC and Rocky Amateurs sites and I’ll keep you posted (that’s a pun on words – get it)?

Trainer Clinton Taylor reports that his prized filly Chinny Boom has really blossomed after a short spell at Embrook, Beaudesert. He produced a photograph to prove it. A winner of five of her only six starts including an Eagle Farm victory to boot, Chinny was spelled after a nose and unlucky second in the LR Mode Stakes at Doomben on December 3. “She went back into light pre-training on Monday this week down there. She has filled out and looks magnificent. I couldn’t believe how good she looked when I saw the photo. She looks so much stronger”, Clinton said. Like all racing lovers, I am looking forward to Chinny Boom getting back to racing in the coming months.

Young Rockhampton trainer Thomas Smith would have had to have been delighted with the run of his charge Better Rain when a close sixth of nine behind Fashion Legend in The Vo Rogue (1350m) at Doomben last Saturday. From a loungeroom perspective in watching Better Rain parade on the SKY Racing coverage it was patently clear the youngster (Better Rain – not Thomas) would tighten-up from the run. Look out next time when Better Rain contests a $110K 3YO C & G BM 72 (1200m) at Doomben on Saturday, January 21. The timing will be perfect as all the top class 3YO’s would more than likely have raced at the Gold Coast over the MM Carnival. I remember being told years ago by Neville Stewart that mid to late January was the ideal time to take northern 2 & 3YO’s to Brisbane. I did something similar with Paradis Imperial when she won a 2YO Hcp at Eagle Farm on January 21, 2017. Smart work Tom and good luck. Similar to Paradis Imperial, Tom explained that Better Rain had not been paid up for the Magic Millions race series.

The Emerald Jockey Club is gearing up for the start of its racing calendar for 2023 with a seven race TAB card set for decision on the turf Pioneer Park racecourse on Tuesday, January 24. Six races carry overall prize money of $14K each while the QTIS Maiden Plate (2YO and upwards) 1000m has an enticing $34,000 purse. Under the set weight conditions, the Maiden Plate lends itself to a well performed maidener that would likely get more weight in an Open Maiden run under handicap conditions. If you have such a candidate that sprints, the Emerald race on January 24 would be ideal. Set weight races in some cases allow astute trainers the opportunity to beat the handicapper. For those interested in attending the races that day, Emerald Jockey Club secretary Leigh Shields advises it will be a free gate. All attendees will be able to access the well-appointed members bar at Pioneer Park and enjoy the races in the comfort of the air-conditioned lounge.

As mentioned previously Racing Queensland has advised that prize money increases in Queensland take effect from February 1. Racing Queensland’s Col Truscott explained that for the RJC meetings virtually all current prize money levels will be increased $1000 per standard race. This means that standard midweek Callaghan Park races will increase to $21K while all Maidens go up to $23K. Standard Saturday Callaghan Park races will rise to $18K while all Maidens will be elevated to $20K.

“As well there will be an additional QTIS race every two months with QTIS funding for all ages. These races could be an open age Maiden, Benchmark 58 and others. As well prize money for country non-TAB meetings will also be increased from $8500 to $10,000.

Furthermore, country TAB races (e.g., Emerald/Thangool) will be increased by $1000 whereby standard races go from $14,000 to $15,000 while Maidens will be increased from $16,000 to $17,000.”, Col Truscott advised.

I know everyone including myself would have wished for more but then again, any increase is better than none. I’m sure the push will continue behind closed doors for more parity for northern regional TAB race clubs with their southern counterparts which race for considerably more stakes.

Finally, well done to Racing Queensland for reprogramming the $38K QTIS 2YO Handicap (1100m) onto the RJC’s January 19 TAB meeting. The race was abandoned from the Tuesday, January 10 card after finally only attracting four starters. Let’s hope the race is better supported on January 19 and remember maiden 2yo’s are welcome to run and likely earn prize money.


Tony McMahon.

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