Racing AROUND CQ with Tony McMahon.
Published 21 December 2022
Sunshine Coast apprentice jockey Sophie Blunt 21, was naturally all smiles after riding her first winner at the Gladstone Turf Club’s Christmas race day at Ferguson Park racecourse last Saturday. Sophie indentured to Sunshine Coast trainer Gary “Jack” Duncan scored a thrilling “nose” victory on the Ian Prizeman trained Thorben ($9.00) in the Class B (1000m). Thorben and runner-up, the Pat Brennan trained Awesome Spirit (Robert Faehr, $3.50) staged a thrilling two horse duel all the way down the Ferguson Park home stretch. It was an unforgettable thrill for Sophie who was only having her sixth race ride after her introductions at Thangool and Bundaberg race meetings the previous fortnight. Typifying the camaraderie among jockeys, Robert Faehr was one of the first to congratulate Sophie on her win. “You rode your horse very well”, he told the excited young lady. At her only other race ride at Gladstone on Saturday, Sophie finished second on the Prizeman trained Deck Of Aces ($2.10) behind Kevin Miller’s Star of Leon (Brooke Johnson, $2.40) in the BM 55 Handicap (1517m). The Gladstone Turf Club next race on Easter Saturday, being April 8, 2023.
Longreach based Faehr took time off from his holidays in SEQ to ride at Ferguson Park because of a likely scarcity of riders. It proved fruitful for him and the Thangool connections (Rideout family) of Designing Arrow and the Devine’s with Better Rush which won the Maiden and BM 60 both over 850 metres. They started at $2.50 and $13.00 respectively. The Darryl Johnston Rockhampton trained Vitae (Liv O’Donnell, $5.00) led all the way to win the BM 65 (1194m) rounding off a good day for bookmakers. The Clinton Taylor stable produced two short priced favourites at the Gladstone meeting. They were Twisted Sister ($1.70) which dropped out to finish 8.35 lengths fourth in the Class B (1000m) and Brigalow Boy ($1.70) a well beaten 6.25 lengths third in the BM 65 (1194m). However, 444km north at Mackay races on Saturday, the stable won the $35K QTIS 3YO (1200m) with Betterdeel.
A sizeable crowd attended the Gladstone Christmas races and as was the case at Callaghan Park the previous day, the kids were well catered for throughout the afternoon. Those two elves, Clerks of the Course Roberta Spencer and Kim Ross went the extra miles. Both donned festive Santa outfits and distributed lollies from their ponies to children. “It was our way of a Santa drop”, Roberta said. Both Roberta and Kris are to be congratulated for the presentation of their horses on race day and the manner by which both women and their trusty steeds assist jockeys in their preliminaries.
Passionate Taroom racing man Rodney Hay keeps on adding to his string of horses. Rodney’s latest additions to his burgeoning ownership CV are the aptly named Bush and the former international galloper Albion Square (GB). I suspect Bush will have no trouble winning a Maiden very soon on the strength of finishing within four and five lengths when unplaced in much stronger recent company at Gosford and Taree. Chances are Rodney has the Maiden Plate (1200m) at his home town New Year’s Eve race day at Taroom earmarked for Bush. New stablemate Albion Square (GB) (g 4 Acclamation (GB)-Aristocratic (GB) x Exceed and Excel) is really in for a culture shock. It has raced at The Curragh (Ireland), Royal Ascot (England) as well as at Meydan (Dubai). It won a Maiden in England on a soft track and in a handful of starts for Robbie Griffiths in Victoria did manage to run third one day at Bairnsdale. Hay is in the throws of shifting camp from Taroom to a very well-appointed property at Chinchilla from where Albion Square (GB) will be more at home. Albion Square (GB) may also make his QLD debut at Taroom. Won’t he have a few tales to tell his equine country mates about the rich and famous nags he has mixed with internationally. No kidding as Albion Square (GB) has raced in GROUP race company.
Callaghan Park trainer Graeme Green’s mighty galloper Master Jamie ran a rare last at Eagle Farm on Saturday in a top race where he didn’t look well placed on paper. On Sunday, Graeme’s talented juvenile Shamedy finished a creditable fourth in a $75K 2YO (1000m) at the Sunshine Coast.
For holidaying country folk in Rockhampton or the Capricorn Coast, keep in mind the RJC stage TAB meetings at Callaghan Park on this Friday, December 23 and the following Thursday, December 29.
Belated happy birthday to that lady of all things country racing Mel Johnson who celebrated her 21st birthday on Monday. Looking younger every day Mel – enjoy, from your myriad of country racing friends.