Racing AROUND Rocky with Tony McMahon.

Published 1 July 2024

Racing AROUND Rocky with Tony McMahon.

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There were 11 race winners to celebrate at the expanded TAB Tattersalls Cup race meeting on Sunday at Callaghan Park but in my mind the biggest winner was the track itself.  As far as I am concerned it raced brilliantly. Recapping, Friday’s Tatt’s Sprint meeting was abandoned the day before with RJC CEO David Aldred reporting the Callaghan Park track was “waterlogged.” It wasn’t actually ideal drying weather conditions from Friday through to the first race on Sunday morning with dribs and drabs of rain showering Callaghan Park intermittently. With RJC track manager Trent Williams advising that 67mm of rain had fallen on the track in the previous seven days to Sunday’s meeting, it came as no surprise that stewards rated it a Heavy 8 on race morning. They changed the track rating to a Soft 7 prior to the running of the sixth race at 2.05pm. In the fifth race Stuart Kendrick trained race winner Vetta Velocita ran 1.03.49 for the 1100m event coming home the last 600 metres in 33.54 seconds. Keen “time students” would attest that was astounding based  on the Soft 7 rating. Unquestionably the track raced sensationally given it being waterlogged a few days earlier. Well done to all concerned with its presentation on Sunday.

From a TAB Rockhampton Cup perspective (run on Saturday, July 13th) there were some notable efforts in yesterday’s $35K TAB Tatts Cup (1600m). Stuart Kendrick trained Sunshine Coaster Under The Cap (Cody Collis, $3.00 favourite) was a very impressive winner under a huge pull in the weights. He carried 52.5kg courtesy of Collis’ 1.5kg claim. The win automatically qualified the Wessel Thoroughbreds and their staunch Bundaberg racing syndicate of fellow owners’ Under The Cap  for inclusion in the $150K Cup (1600m). However, in that race Under The Cap will have a decided weight disadvantage compared to that of the Tatt’s Cup. He beat Rodney Hay Chinchilla trained Sunfall (Tash Chambers, $11.00) with 57kg by 1.2l. Not far away in third was Jamie McConachy trained Alcyone (Justin Stanley, $11.00) under 60.5kg. Both placegetters will drop in weight appreciably in the Rocky Cup while Under The Cap will rise as it is a no-claim race. Ricky Vale’s Namazu ran a bottler of a race under his 70.5kg handicap to be beaten 6.28 lengths into nineth. He did much of the bullocking work in the early and middle stages and never gave in at any point. Believe you me Namazu will look a lot more trim, taut  and terrific as a result of Sunday’s run, his first in 22 days. Under the Rocky Cup quality handicapping conditions, the most Namazu can get in the weights is 62kg while the minimum is 54kg. You don’t have to be a mathematician to conclude that Namazu will drop 8.5kg at the very least on Saturday week and on weights is already going to be the horse to beat. 

The equation gets more complex with Master Jamie going for an historic three consecutive wins in the TAB Rockhampton Cup. “James’’ won the last two Cups with 59.5kg and I’ll be surprised if he isn’t around that mark again this year. As reported he jarred up at his last out of character run in Brisbane at Eagle Farm on June 15. However, he was well and truly back to normal winning a 900 metres Callaghan Park barrier trial under Justin Stanley in a pretty swoosh 55.24 seconds this morning (Monday). “Very happy with him,’’ trainer Graeme Green commented. Green is enjoying his best season ever as a trainer with 19 Callaghan Park winners this season to date. Last Saturday he and CQ stable jockey Warwick “The Fox” Satherley combined with Blue Kentucky Moon to win at Gladstone. I have tagged Warwick as “The Fox” because he has an uncanny knack of cunningly holding a horse together preserving its energies even when they look beaten to raise another effort. There was no better example of that than his winning ride on Liam Birchley trained Balletto when it looked gone to the world in the $17,500 QTIS Maiden (1194m) at Gladstone. Poweralong (Hannah Richardson) raced straight past Balletto with about 150 metres to go but Satherley was foxing. He got to work on Balletto, and it came again to win by a long head. Calling the race, I went the “early crow” and had Poweralong home and hosed. I wasn’t the only one by the way but as they say (race) “ it is not over until the fat lady sings.”  Three winners on the day for “The Fox” who by the way was not objectionable in any way about his new Synonym. Cunning (in a complimentary way) as a Fox. 

Elated to see owner and all-round horseman Colin Bell back in the winner’s circle with youngster Ask Me Mate ( b g 2 Better Than Ready-Blessed Anna x General Nediym) in Sunday’s $41,000 QTIS 2YO Maiden (1100m) at Callaghan Park. Also, for that matter for jockey Tash Chambers and trainer Kevin Hansen. Over the most recent years Colin Bell has spent a small fortune on yearlings without a lot of luck. Colin paid $62K for Ask Me Mate at the 2023 MM March Yearlings Sales. Pre-season Ask Me Mate trialed brilliantly before failing badly on debut at Callaghan Park last November. Spelled and gelded he has returned a new horse. “Hope to be back here on Rocky Cup Day,” Colin said on Saturday. Which means, without asking “old mate” the $48K QTIS 2YO Handicap (1200m) that day is next up on the agenda.

OTHER TATTS HIGHLIGHTS.

Local trainer Jared Wehlow’s well and truly back in form with a winning double through heavily backed City Playboy (Justin Huxtable) and Letmeletgo (Sean Cormack) in the TAB Tatts Sprint (1200m). International GR 1 winning rider, Sean Cormack posted his first Rockhampton double courtesy as well of Paul Duncan trained earlier winner Tavis Town (NZ). As advised a fortnight ago Cormack is a special talent so expect to see him in demand now that he is the latest SEQ based member of the FIFO Jockeys Club. Likewise, Ron Stewart won on Ricky Vale’s Flying Maple. Ricky also scored with Track Tale (Cody Collis). Cody, now 21 and based with Stuart Kendrick at Caloundra is still the “chip of the old block” as he was when based at Callaghan Park. He was tagged “Chip” because of his small stature but while he has grown, his riding skills have risen to another dimension as well. Chip landed a winning treble as his other winners were the Kendrick trained Vetta Velocita and Under The Cap. Congratulations to retired Rocky jockey Michael John Stephens on producing his first winner as a trainer in General Wolffe (Tahlia Fenlon) on Sunday. Raced by members of the Stephens family including wife Angela and brother-in-law, Peter Boodle a former RJC chairman, General Wolffe should provide “Jockey John “with more winners in his new career. As for Rocky lass Tahlia Fenlon who now calls Brisbane home, she keeps going from strength to strength. Tahlia also notched up a double having earlier won on hard working and dedicated trainer Sileas Green’s Dragon’s Snip. Tahlia has ridden 162 winners and that may escalate at Eagle Farm on Wednesday. Hope I have not omitted anyone. Oh yes, great to bump into (and I did just that) former Rocky jockey Lloyd Brazier at the races on Sunday.

Happy Horses everyone –  more later in the week – Tony McMahon.

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