Racing AROUND Rocky with Tony McMahon

Published 18 January 2023

Chinchilla based owner Rodney Hay purchased two MM yearlings to be trained in Rockhampton. Picture: Tony McMahon.

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Entries for Rockhampton’s Capricornia Yearling Sale to be held on Sunday, April 2 are looking good with reports that all the southern past big player vendors have again supported it strongly. The entires were extended to close this Friday, January 20 with my guess being to provide some vendors (busy at MM Sale) and others that may have had yearlings passed-in at Magic Millions Book 2 over the last week an opportunity to nominate. If it brings more yearlings to the CYS that’s got to be a good thing. The CYS Racing Carnival is set for Friday, March 31 and Saturday, April 1 with the big 2YO Classic carrying a $150K purse.

Speaking of Magic Millions, a staggering all-time record gross of $243M made the seven-day January sale the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere. Some 20 yearlings sold for over $1M and four for over the $2M mark. Rockhampton buyers got among the spoils. As previously mentioned, Alan and Jennifer Acton paid $450K for a grey filly by Deep Field (Lot 244). Tom Button and Archer Park bought Lot 30, a Headwater colt for $50K. Button also bought a Power (GB) colt Lot 1169 for $23K and a cheapie in Lot 1051 for just $5K. Price means nothing – been proven time and time over again as is said “horses don’t know how much they cost”.

Graeme Green didn’t buy Master Jamie’s half -brother Lot 993 which went for $100K but did get Lot 1006 a Cosmic Force (first season) colt for $90,000. Great Rocky racing supporter Rodney Hay shall we say “flush” after selling property near Taroom and cattle galore was also active. Fabulous for racing, Rodney now based at a magic horse property near Chinchilla, will send trainer Tash Chambers to train Lot 1032, a brown colt by first season Brazen Beau stallion Tassort bought for $38K. Fellow Callaghan Park trainer Clinton Taylor will be the benefactor of a Brutal filly, Lot 981 offered by Kenmore Lodge and secured by Rodney for $65,000.

Good news is that Kenmore Lodge will be selling yearlings at the Rocky Sale in April which is a huge plus. Local mentor Jared Wehlow in conjunction with Aquis signed off on Lot 1120 a Dubious filly for $30K. By the way Jared Wehlow is off to the Karaka Yearling Sales in NZ which commence on January 29. I may have missed one or two others local buys at MM but best of luck to all concerned.

Callaghan Park trainer Thomas Smith will be heading south to Doomben on Saturday with his extra talented 3YO Better Rain which runs in the $110K QTIS 3YO C & G (1200m). Les Tilley rides under the big weight of 59kg from a good gate at 3. A model of consistency with three wins and seven seconds from 11 starts, Better Rain seems assured in one way or another of adding to his $224,050 prize money haul. Party For Two, a CYS graduate from last year’s sale, will try to make it two consecutive wins in the $127,500 QTIS 2YO (1050m) at Doomben. Part-owner and breeder Dan Fletcher has the $150K CYS 2YO Classic (1200m) among future plans for the filly. Clinton Taylor’s promising I’m Pinker didn’t accept for the Doomben race and remains uncertain to line up at Callaghan Park on Thursday. “Still unsure whether she will start; just see how much the track (Callaghan Park) dries out”, Clinton said at 2.30pm Wednesday.

A $100,000 QTIS Northern Jewel 3YO (1400m) is a new addition to the Rockhampton Jockey Club’s program for Friday, June 23. Incidentally the first of the new QTIS races for all ages in Rockhampton will be staged in March. RQ’s Col Truscott explained – “These QTIS (all ages) commence in February with one race at Cairns and Mackay. Then alternating each month with Rocky and Townsville having one each in March. RJC on March 31 has QTIS on RB0-55 (1200m) and then Maiden (1400m) on May 26”, Truscott said. Previously QTIS bonus prize money was only applied to designated 2 and 3-Y-O races.

While on the subject of race programs, at a meeting at Callaghan Park on Wednesday morning called by RJC CEO Ian Mill and attended by committee members and invited trainers and opened by RJC race caller Russell Leonard a number of matters in relation to racing in Rockhampton were discussed. As is usually the case when such meetings are convened the time honoured “old chestnut” about race programming was raised. As a consequence, it was agreed by the committee present and the trainers that Russell Leonard’s suggestion that three trainers with big stables of horses should have the opportunity to meet with RJC program convenor myself and RQ’s Col Truscott to provide input before programs are set in concrete.

This will be adopted down the track more likely in July when the next set of programs will be framed for Callaghan Park. It was proposed that trainers Clinton Taylor, Nick Walsh and Graeme Green be chosen and the RJC hierarch agreed. Welcome aboard Clinton, Nick and Graeme and please bring some “headache tablets” along to the meeting. It’s a common complaint (headaches) that anybody associated with framing race programming endures. RJC CEO Ian Mill will also attend the programming meetings in a supervisory role.

With over 160 options for race class/distances available for just 7 and 8 race RJC cards, programming is a thankless task and a nightmare. The new lads on the advisory panel will find “you can please some of the people (trainers) some of the time, but you can never please all of the people (trainers) all of the time”. Abraham Lincolm (American president 1861-65) coined that quote and he was obviously on a race programming panel.

The end result is if the new arrangements work for the betterment of racing in Rockhampton that will be fabulous. Lots of other good news from the meeting on Friday (tell you more in the weeks ahead) which the RJC CEO’s Ian Mill pledged would be run “every few months”. Good idea Ian.

Don’t forget the RJC race again at Callaghan Park on Friday, January 27. The Emerald Jockey Club race next Tuesday, January 24 with a seven race TAB card and given the strong nominations it should be a you beaut meeting.

The Rocky Amateurs Facebook and website is well worth a look advising of membership applications and events leading up to the $775K The Archer (1300m) at Callaghan Park on Sunday, April 30. It is going to be “bigger than Ben-Hur”. That saying was adopted after the massive success of the 1959 epic movie Ben-Hur. Showing my age, aren’t I?

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