Racing AROUND Rocky With Tony McMahon

Published 1 September 2022

Racing AROUND Rocky With Tony McMahon

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With so much having been happening around this neck of the woods over the last week I will try to cover as much as I can while attempting to make it brief. However, you don’t know how difficult that is for me as I am a prolific writer. Here goes!

Genuinely disappointed to hear of the shock resignations for personal reasons of two fulltime QRIC permanently based Callaghan Park stewards over recent weeks. Senior steward Chris Allison was highly experienced, diligent and a great communicator in his dealings with stakeholders and the media. He will be sorely missed. His younger protégé Ethan Suli also had a very bright future in his former role. I speak from lengthy personal experience as a racing steward in NSW and both will be difficult to replace and CQ racing all the poorer for their departure. QRIC as of Wednesday had not determined fulltime replacements for the pair. In the meantime, Shane Larkins who joined the panel as a part-timer in March after relocating from Victoria, has now moved up the ladder. Shane chaired the races at Bluff last Saturday and while no stewards report has been updated on the web (as of early Thursday morning), from what I could see he was the steward in charge at the Callaghan Park meeting on Tuesday. Shane is vastly experienced in stewarding particularly so in harness racing. He concluded a 10 years stint with Harness Racing Victoria in January this year during which period for two years he was the organisation’s chief steward. Prior to that he was a long-term chairman of stewards for Harness Racing Tasmania while earlier having worked with Harness Racing New Zealand. Prior to that in an earlier life I believe Shane was a racing industry licensee. Shane and his family moved to a Central Queensland property on the outskirts of Rockhampton in January of this year. He is well versed to take a senior role on the Rockhampton stewards panel given his vast experience. 

Speaking of stewards, CQ chief stipe Ben Cooke has trekked out to Birdsville this week to share the duties over the iconic two days Carnival on Friday and Saturday with the Gold Coast’s chief stipe Rion Hitchener. It should be quite an experience for the pair.

Saddened to hear of the passing of three respected CQ racing men over the last fortnight. Roddy Bredhauer, 82 had lifelong participation in racing particularly so with the defunct Duaringa Race Club and was a regular at Callaghan Park races. Also, Ian Duff a very likeable man who was well known in both the pastoral, racing and rodeo circles in Central Queensland died after a brave and long fight with cancer. Ian raced many horses in the John Wigginton stable and jockey Jackson Murphy wore a black armband on his horse Aerial Combat as a mark of respect on Tuesday. The other was bookmaker Fred Ward, 72 who was a regular around the CQ country circuit in recent years after starting out as a Queensland bookies clerk with Vince Aspinall zonks ago at Callaghan Park. Fred was also a true-blue bookie at the Callaghan Park greyhounds. To the family and friends of all men my personal sympathies and it goes without saying those of the RJC and greater racing community.

The sometimes-poor nominations for certain races are not just confined to Queensland country and provincial races. Originally, only three horses were entered for the $125K QTIS 3YO BM 70 (1630m) at Doomben on Saturday which included two Stuart Kendrick stablemates. They doubled to six after noms were extended and a field of five was drawn on Wednesday. Adrian Coome’s Executive Stress was a late entry and at the very worse is assured of $2100 should it run fifth. Not bad at all Adrian but I suggest it will do better.

What a mighty effort by the Ricky Vale trained Namazu in winning the $150K Cairns Cup (2100m) under Les Tilley at super odds of $6.00 last Saturday. I mentioned in last week’s column that Namazu would “race boldly” never expecting such generous odds though. Hope you got a slice. At his previous start Namazu had won the $150K Townsville Cup (2000m) and chances are he will make it three from three in his next mission the $150K Cairns Amateur Cup (2100m) on September 10. Ricky Vale has become the Rocky version of a “Cups King” having previously won a Rocky Cup with Absolut Artie. He told me at Callaghan Park races on Tuesday that he considered Namazu “should have won the Mackay Cup” a month back instead of finishing less than a length back third. Ricky said Namazu had come through last Saturday’s win “better than ever”. Incidentally, apprentice Alex Pattis who held the early Cairns Cup booking was substituted by Les Tilley after she had work commitments with her master Tony Gollan with horses in Melbourne. Namazu is one of those seasonal horses that thrives during the winter months. He won the Rocky, Mackay and Townsville Guineas during July/August 2021. That reminds me of the that brilliant pocket Hercules sprinter Packy’s Plot trained by the late Tony Button. He was a toff in summer and the hotter it got the better Packy’s Plot raced winning stakes aplenty during the summer periods. Tony wasn’t bad in summer either finding ways of keeping cool celebrating his champ Packy’s wins.  Packy’s Plot (1992, Covetous-Apple Spirit) won 22 races and his last two were at Eagle Farm in December 1999 and the Sunshine Coast in January 2000. Surprise, surprise it was during summer. I am a great believer that some horses have a “time clock” and repeatedly race at their best around the same time each year. Incidentally, the feats of Namazu just goes to prove that stayers can be successfully prepared from Callaghan Park. No doubt I will be criticised for saying so but trainers at Callaghan Park, myself included for 34 years don’t always realise just how good our facilities are for a provincial club outside the SEQ corner. I know, I know they could be better but they are pretty dammed good and will be further enhanced when the new treadmill is implemented.

If ever I saw a horse with the mythical “flashing red light of be on me next time” it was Heroic Knight who jumped out of the ground for second on Tuesday. The Tom Smith trained Heroic Knight (ch g 3 Heroic Valour-English Summer x Dodge) came from the proverbial clouds to run winner Mishani Jewel to 0.2 lengths in the 3YO Maiden (1300m). You may recall Heroic Knight topped the Capricornia Yearling Sale in Rockhampton as Lot 87 in April 2021 fetching $67,500 from Basil Nolan’s Raheen Stud being purchased by the Fenlon family and friends including RJC chairman Rob Carr. Going on Tuesday’s slashing second, he is already shaping as a contender for the rich CYS 2Y Classic (1200m) next year. To me Heroic Knight might just be the next “big thing” to emerge from a Capricornia Yearling Sale.

So much for being brief but then again if I don’t update you extensively with the local racing news, from where else are you going to receive it?

As was drummed into me in earlier roles as a newspaper racing scribe “copious copy is the offspring of passion”.

 That’s my excuse anyway.

Tony McMahon.

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