Racing AROUND CQ: with Tony McMahon.
Published 2 December 2022
Enormous Central Queensland interest will focus on Brisbane’s Doomben races tomorrow (Sat Dec 3) where the “country cousins” will come out in force. Indeed, CQ is well represented with horses and industry stakeholders in both the $105K Country Stampede Final (1110m) and the $200K Country Cups Challenge Final (1600m). Firstly, what a feather in the cap of Bluff based CQ race caller Scott Power to be called up to broadcast both features. I ran into Scott at Allenstown Plaza this morning before his flight to Brisbane and he was focussing on a quiet night doing his racing homework. “No beer tonight mate, I’ll wait to have a few at Gallopers Club after the races Saturday night”, Scott told me. It seems that Gallopers, nearby to the racecourse will be the place to be with many countryites planning to visit there Saturday night to quench their thirst.
Emerald trainer Raymond Williams floated his pair Echo Point (Cup) and Ahwahneechee (Stampede) south on Wednesday and has them based at Peachester. “They have both settled in well up there and have eaten up as well. I really think Echo Point (Les Tilley) will be very hard to beat. Having said that I believe he is badly weighted (60kg) in comparison to some of the horses down in the weights. However, I still think he will race really well”, Williams said. It would be an all-county win should Echo Point salute as he is country owned. As well he has won at Longreach, Birdsville and Barcaldine while his jockey Les “Bubba” Tilley commenced in racing as an apprentice at St George. As for the “Bubba” moniker, I read where Tilley explained to Horse Racing Only columnist Darren Winningham that his grandmother called him “Bubba” from birth and it had stuck ever since. (About 27 years). “What about the grand old warhorse Ahwahneechee”, I asked Raymond. “He’s good but has a very sticky draw (likely 15) but his jockey Jim Byrne should be able to overcome that hopefully. Actually, I had put him out in the paddock at home and then Tracey (partner) said that some like Han Dynasty weren’t going for it so I got him going again. He has freshened up really well and I feel he will run a bit of a race”, Raymond said. Williams was runner up with Ahwahneechee in last year’s Stampede Final at Doomben on Dec 4 behind V J Day (USA). Now an 8Y0, he carried 62kg that day and has 58.5kg tomorrow. “I would love to win one of the two races but if I don’t I hope one of the other country trainers does”, Williams concluded. Incidentally, if you were wondering like me about the origin of the name (Ahwahneechee) which is easy to pronounce but difficult to spell (I often get it incorrect first-go) it is simple. Good old Dr Google prescribes the Ahwahneechee are an American Native People. So, there you have it
Not forgetting of course, the Rockhampton trained Centaur (Kristie Clark-Peoples) which contests the Country Cup with 54kg with Jim Byrne. Centaur has had nine runs this preparation since June 18 and Kristie told me she is very conscious of this. “He (Centaur) hasn’t made it easy to qualify (meet conditions of race) but we have gotten there. Well, he has had a big campaign but continues to eat and work well. I have kept him down here at the Sunshine Coast since his last start second (64.5kg) at Gympie a few weeks back. He is paddocked during the day and has done well”, Kristie said. Personally, I feel Centaur the Longreach Cup (1600m) winner four starts back on September 24 under 56kg is well in at the weights with 54kg. “I agree with that and he has Jim Byrne on board and although he has drawn 11, Jim should help with that”, Kristie said. The other Rocky horse of Clinton Taylor’s in Attackabeel (Samantha Collett) runs in the Stampede and the trainer believes as earlier reported is a good each way prospect. Good luck all concerned. Then there is Chinny Boom later in the day to top it off.
In other news good to see apprentice Liv O’Donnell back winning at Thangool last Saturday. Liv now with the Jamie McConachy stable is presently in Rocky won on the Tracey Simmons Mackay trained Air Lifted. Nanango’s Hannah Richardson, who has some winning prospects at the RJC races at Callaghan Park tomorrow (Sat Dec 3) won two races at Thangool on trainer-husband Glenn’s Rainbow Dreams and Krystle Johnston’s Craiglea Bandit. Seems to be a resurgence in the “Craiglea” horses of late. In recent months Krystle and her Craiglea’s have won races at Gladstone, Eidsvold, Gayndah, Sunshine Coast as well as Mt Perry.
What about the winning trot of Rockhampton’s Jared Wehlow (trainer) and Ashley Butler (jockey)? The pair are going from strength to strength. Jared has trained six winners in the last three weeks and 19 since September 1. (Jared had a quiet start to the season with just one winner in August). Ashley (I keep calling him that but he prefers Ash) has ridden six in the same three weeks’ time frame but 28 in total since Sept 1. In the last week the pair have won races at Townsville, Thangool, and Mackay. Ash (I said it) is currently sixth on the Queensland Jockeys premiership with 36 winners for the season with the highest winning strike rate of 29%. Wehlow sits in 12th place on the trainer’s table with 20 winners this season with the second highest WSR of 29%. Fellow Rocky trainer Clinton Taylor is currently ninth placed on 21 winners but has the highest winning strike rate (WSR) of 29.20%. Great effort fellows.
Longreach based Rob Luck, who in many circles (including myself) is accredited with playing a huge role in the revival and promotion of racing in the Central West bows out race calling in the district there tomorrow (Sat, Dec 3). A late starter to regular race calling only about 10 years ago, Rob a former high-ranking teacher at secondary schools at Blackwater and Longreach also became the president of the Longreach Jockey Club where he calls tomorrow. It is to his credit that he has become so professional, if you will excuse the pun at his “calling”. He and wife Leanne have been proprietors for many years of Barker’s Newsagency in Longreach which resembles a Department Store. “We are moving to a unit at Main Beach on the Gold Coast but will be back in Longreach from time to time until the business sells. We have excellent staff and can run it remotely. The succession plan for the LJC has worked out much better than that for the business as Andrew Watts is now both the race caller and the club president”, Rob said earlier today. Rob Luck has a passion for all things racing and it exudes when in his company and when he is behind the microphone. Best of luck Rob from Jean and I and your myriad of friends and listeners to your iconic radio program Bush Beat on Radio TAB each Tuesday.
Country race meetings coming up in CQ – Gladstone, Saturday, December 17. Calliope, Boxing Day December 26 and we will claim Taroom as one of ours for Saturday, December 31. Not forgetting of course Rockhampton on Friday, December 16 (Family Race Day) and Friday, December 23.
Very briefly, it has been announced by RQ that prize money in Queensland will rise from February 1, 2023. From what I can gather non-TAB country race meetings will go up from the basic $8.5K to $10K per race. Country TAB meeting Maidens rising a $1000 from $16K to $17K and up a “grand” for the rest from $14K to $15K. Rockhampton, Mackay and Townsville TAB races all up $1000 per race to $21K with Maiden races now to be worth $23K up from $22K. I was asked by a female owner (again at Allenstown Plaza) “why is the prize money for Maiden races worth more than the others”? My reply “maybe they think a maiden winner won’t win another race “– seriously I don’t know but that could be the theory! Also, some long needed extensions in age restrictions to see QTIS races which will cater for 4 and 5YO horses. More in Racing Around Rockhampton Column next week.