Racing AROUND Rocky with Tony McMahon

Published 19 December 2022

Racing AROUND Rocky with Tony McMahon

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Sometimes you just happen to be at the right place at the right time which explains the accompanying photo. I had virtually just walked onto Callaghan Park racecourse last Friday when I couldn’t resist taking this snap. Why? Simple it is unusual – and that’s what is instinctively done by old hacks from the newspaper era. A different angle so to speak. No posing there apart from looking at the camera as Melinda Morris was already standing on the chair to enable her to manicure a “bridle path” on the mane of her favourite Mocial Chief. Bridle path – what’s a bridle path some of you asking? This involves shaving or clipping an area of the mane on the horse’s poll below the ears. By doing so a bridle or head collar fits more comfortably on the horse’s head as it allows for a much more even surface. Melinda’s work obviously worked as the Kerrod Smyth trained Mocial Chief won his eighth race on the track.

Congratulations to FIFO Captain Justin Stanley for his winning ride aboard the Mark Currie trained End Assembly ($9.00) in the LR Gold Edition Stakes (1200m) at Eagle Farm last Saturday. Just another endorsement of what Rockhampton and northern racing followers already know – that Justin is a top jockey and person. Just the day before, J.P. Stanley rode a winning double at Rocky on Falsetto and Divine Purpose. He was involved in much of the education of Clinton Taylor’s brilliant 3YO filly Chinny Boom but missed riding her through injury. Amazing how when “one door closes another opens” in this case being End Assembly. Just a few years back Justin had a brilliant association with another Rocky princess in Sweet Dolly winning a $500K The Jewel at the Gold Coast. He has also won Battles Of the Bush Finals in Brisbane. Some savvy punters backed End Assembly on Saturday reasoning Stanley would have held a full card of rides at Mackay but opted for Brisbane. Timely Christmas gift for Justin as his percentage of the End Assembly win amounted to about $5800. Good for him he has been a real racing warrior and survivor after some terrible injuries. Justin’s younger sister Kasie 36, is also a successful jockey based at Grafton. See where Kasie rode at Moree races on Saturday with two unplaced rides for former Capricornia based trainer Scott Barker. Justin’s father Peter Stanley was a top-class jockey in the Northern Rivers, NSW after serving his apprenticeship with the one and only Theo Green in Sydney. Peter was a brilliant rider and he and I were sparring partners on occasions from around 1978 until 1986 in the stewards’ rooms around the Rivers. Justin has not only inherited his father’s riding gift but also Peter’s gentlemanly qualities. Not forgetting Justin’s proud mother Dianne who would be his greatest fan.

Very successful Family Fun Day races at Rocky last Friday. The kids were having a ball and in the main the punters as well. Six favourites won – Mocial Chief (Ash Butler, $2.15 – trainer Kerrod Smyth); Highground (Jason Taylor, $1.90 – Nick Walsh; Falsetto $1.40 & Divine Purpose $1.65 for Stanley and Clinton Taylor as well as astute Dalby trainer William Kropp’s I Promise You ($2.60 – Isabella Rabjones). Adrian Coome upset the applecart for punters who took the skinny odds-on Nick Walsh trained Age of Innocence ($1.30) producing King’s County (Chris Whiteley) to win at $17.00. Roma’s Craig Smith led-in the other winner Art By Concorde (Adam Sewell, $5.00) which defeated Olivia Cairns trained favourite A Fighting Fury ($3.90).

Up at Mackay TAB’s last Saturday, nothing unusual to see Callaghan Park trainers win five of the six races. Jared Wehlow continued his Goliath of a season with a double through Unassailable (Wiggins – $1.60) and Raprport (NZ) (Ash Butler – $3.00). “QTIS King” Clinton Taylor got the bonus chocolates with Betterdeel (Nathan Day, $5.00) in the $35K 3YO (1200m). Adrian Coome and Butler combined to win with Nor Force ($4.80) while Rocky’s Tim Cook and Butler won with Brad (the horse – not the vet) as $2.45 favourite. As well six other Rocky horses were placed up there at their “second home” Mackay. It dawned on me that Tim Cook seems to have had considerable luck with his horses at Mackay this year. “Sure, as eggs” that’s what’s happened this year as most of Tim’s winners have been at Mackay – Flying Homer, Agustawynd, Corporal, Schappose, Rock’n’Sol and of course Brad. I’m sure you already know Tim but Mackay race again on Friday, January 6. So, take the tip punters and back Rocky horses at Mackay.

I don’t always remember but I never forget. Clinton Taylor commented to me recently “I just love QTIS races Tone”. So, I checked and can now understand why! From my quick research since October 1, the Taylor stable has won nine QTIS bonus races at Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton, Emerald and Brisbane with eight horses. Chinny Boom, Zipping Irish, I’m Pinker, Asiko Bay, Twisted Sister, Bush Diamond as well as Peggie Boom and Betterdeel in the last week. Those nine big bonus wins took place over 11 weeks. Any wonder racehorse owners from all over the place are lining-up to get their horses into his stables.

Ash Butler jumps on and off winner after winner. Five over Friday at Rocky (2) and Mackay (3) on Saturday. In fact, he has ridden 18 winners since November 1. Butler 30, is in the best form of his career and presently sits with an enviable 30.4% winning strike rate for this season. Overall, Butler with 41 winners has the best winning strike rate of any jockey in the “top 20” in Australia. He currently sits equal 20th on the Australian Jockey’s Premiership while sixth in Queensland. The leader in both is Brisbane’s James Orman with 79 winners with just 4.5 months gone of the current season. What a difference a year makes as this time last year Ash Butler was on the injured list after breaking his leg in three places in a horse related incident. He was out of action from October 16, 2021 until February 11, this year. I have said it before and I’ll say it again – Rockhampton racing is very fortunate to have so many prolific winning jockeys riding at Callaghan Park.

As well of course Ashley Butler won the inaugural The Archer on Emerald Kingdom at Callahan Park last April.

Don’t forget TAB racing at Callaghan Park this Friday, December 23 and again on Thursday, December 29.

Before we know it the $775,000 The Archer, run on Sunday, April 30 next year at Callaghan Park, which is just 120 days away will swing into action.

This is the last RACINGAROUNDROCKY column before Christmas. I hope everyone you have enjoyed reading the columns as much as I have enjoyed researching, writing and presently them to you.
Merry Christmas everyone and take care – Happy Horses – Tony McMahon.

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