Racing AROUND Rocky with Tony McMahon.

Published 24 January 2023

Racing AROUND Rocky with Tony McMahon.

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Happens every year and 2023 is no exception. Rockhampton’s Capricornia Yearling Sale keeps punching above its weight. Latest poster girl is the Sidestep filly Party For Two. Offered by her breeders Dan Fletcher’s Telecom Thoroughbreds, Beaudesert she failed to make her reserve when passed in for $24K at last year’s Rocky Sale. After her breathtaking Doomben QTIS 2YO win last Saturday, Party For Two has now reached abt $114K in prizemoney from two wins and a placing from just three starts. Connections have big southern ambitions in mind so she may not make the trip up here for the $150,000 CYS 2YO Classic (1200m) on Saturday, April 1. Who knows as race plans tend to be very fluid.

 Big loss in relation to the horse pool in CQ and Mackay with Ooralea based successful trainer Olivia Cairns having moved to Beaudesert. Olivia left with 32 horses to be based at Benwerrin Lodge, Beaudesert last Thursday after she had three starters at Callaghan Park that day. Olivia won a Rockhampton Newmarket with Last Chance among a string of big races around CQ and NQ tracks as well as Brisbane. She was a grand supporter of Rocky racing and she and her horse numbers here and at Mackay will be greatly missed. The grape vine has it that a prominent NQ stable may take over the stables Olivia vacated at Mackay and set up a satellite stable there. Good news if that turns into wine!

Personally, I was stunned to say the least that six TAB race meetings are scheduled for Rockhampton, Mackay and Thangool in 17 days from February 10 up to and including February 27. I reiterate that is my personal opinion but I doubt whether any reasonable racing stakeholder or administrator would not share my opinion.  Let’s see what eventuates? Some of those meetings would have to suffer I would say in relation to horses as in the main the clubs involved share a common pool of horses. Naturally, hope I am wrong with that forecast. Surely the dates could have been spread more suitably when they were allocated. Believe that is constructive and not unreasonable criticism, don’t you? 

Rockhampton racing entities certainly featured among the big winners at the Magic Millions Carnival last week at the Gold Coast. Former RJC chairmen Dr Peter Dunbar (King Of Sparta) and Bill Ouston (Alpine Edge) were associated with those winners of $1 million races. Seems to be than an RJC chairmanship title virtually assures being associated with a top-class racehorse. Remember current RJC chairman Rob Carr was a slot holder in Emerald Kingdom the inaugural winner of last year’s 2022 $440K The Archer (1300m) at Callaghan Park? 

Thrilled to see arguably Rockhampton’s oldest trainer William (Bill Weeks) landing a Callaghan Park winner with Lingjun Topgun (Nicole Seymour) last Thursday. Bill has been associated with Rocky racing and horses all his life. Raced many with Harry Hone but upon retirement got into training one or two of his own. Just 75 years young, Bill reckons he is coming to the end of “his race”. “My race (career – I suppose) is coming to an end but the two girls that ride him (Lingjun) Nicole Seymour and Olivia O’Donnell are just starting their race. Both I believe will make fine jockeys”, Bill said. He would have been devastated to learn that Nicky Seymour fractured her pelvis just two days after their Rocky win at Townsville last Saturday. I reckon getting up early and training his horse (horses) is a great interest and provides a health kick for Bill and his ilk. As is said “Never let the old man in”, not that 75 is old mind you. The Gold Coast trainer Harold (H) Norman is still going strong at 86.

Also, great to see Kris Hansen, 45 the son of Rockhampton trainer Kevin and mother Donna land his first winner in Sweet Jina at Callaghan Park just last Thursday. Raced by Michelle Walker of Sweet Dolly “fame” Kris has a bright future in Rockhampton racing. Good luck to you Kris, a fine horseman.

So too for that matter is young Rockhampton trainer Nick Walsh, 25 who is currently as they say “on fire”. Nick has trained 10 winners from his last 16 starters since December 1 last month. Better still only three of those other six have finished further back than fourth. Since his first starter Regal Reece on November 29, 2019 Walsh has trained 80 winners. He only had to wait eight days for his first winner Regal Reece in Rocky on December 7, 2019. Truly remarkable stats. 

Not surprisingly infant Archie Coome didn’t take long to get into the winners list. Archie, a Christmas baby was there front and centre with his parents Adrian Coome and Mully Green at Callaghan Park last Thursday posing for the winners’ pic with Dragon’s Snip. Good result allround as Dragon’s Snip is raced by its breeders Greg and Elaine Sturgiss. Popular win. Archie celebrated the wins from his pram with his grandparents and the winning owners. 

What about FIFO Ryan Wiggins? Certainly, is the CQ and NQ jockey of the moment and “goes well” elsewhere as well. “Wiggo” as his jockeying mates refer to him has ridden 28 winners in the last two months. This includes five in succession at Mackay and Cairns in December. He tallied up three winners at Callaghan Park last Thursday. That made it 75 for the season to date (6 months) and has him sitting in second placing state wide. Ryan has a 25.2% winning strike rate only surpassed by Rockhampton’s Ashley Butler in sixth possie with 46 winner and a 29.30% winning strike rate.  Any wonder punters rally to back their mounts.

Don’t forget racing at Callaghan Park in Rockhampton on Friday. 

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