Racing AROUND Rocky with Tony McMahon

Published 28 February 2023

Tahlia Fenlon and Nick Walsh. Picture: Tony Mc Mahon.

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It’s almost upon us again Rockhampton’s Capricornia Yearling Sale Racing Carnival. Two days of racing at Callaghan Park over Friday, March 31 and Saturday, April 1 where 15 races will be staged with around $650K plus trophies on offer. It is always an exciting period for the industry in Rockhampton with the big rigs rolling into town bound for the Rockhampton Showgrounds.

It will be there in the Robert Schwarten Pavilion on Sunday, April 2 that approximately 130 thoroughbred yearlings will have a radical change of lifestyle. Like all yearling sales conducted by auction, the Capricornia Yearling Sale will provide grand theatre. The vast majority of the 130 babies (yearlings) will leave their “digs” and handlers who have nurtured them from birth and enter into the life of a race horse. It is a massive transformation for the young horses which will range in age from 17 to 19 months.

Arguably, the greatest Bard of all – William Shakespeare must have had racing and racehorses on his mind when he penned so many of his sonnets and plays. I often refer to A Racegoers Handbook written by Tony Arrold (former racing editor of The Australian) in 1978 to quote some of Shakespeare’s words.

Arrold so brilliantly applied them to aspects of the racing industry. Under the heading of THE YEARLING SALES: “O these naughty times that do put bars of gold betwixt, poor men and their high hopes of fortune’’ – from Much Ado About Nothing. THE AUCTIONEER: “He doth nothing but talk of his horses with many a vain boast” from Merchant of Venice. As for THE TOP YEARLING: “Now sits great expectation in the air, for many hath sold the pasture to buy this horse” – from King Henry V. However, I have kept the best for last relating to THE STEWARDS: “Lie me no lies and brag me no fantastical tales” – from Othello. Now ain’t that the truth?

Ian Mill the “go to” spokesperson for the Capricornia Yearling Sales advises that catalogues for the sales are close-by. “Received the final detail of VOBIS eligibility yesterday (Monday) and double checking all details before sending back to MM (Magic Millions) this morning (Tuesday)”, Ian said. Magic Millions are the selling agents for the CYS.

While on the topic of the CYS, entries for the $150K CYS 2YO Classic (1200m) and the $100K CYS 3&4YO Classic (1300m) close at 11am Wednesday, March 1 (tomorrow). Late today (Tuesday) 16 horses had been nominated for the 2YO and 21 for the 3&4YO. This is the first year of the change of format whereby all horses eligible for both races from the relevant CYS were just “left in” with an acceptance date to follow. It was a highly messy procedure and the new format is certainly more transparent and more reliable.

Undoubtedly at this early stage the horse to beat in the 3&4YO Classic will be the Clinton Taylor trained Divine Prophet filly Divine Purpose. A $55K purchase at the 2021 CYS, Divine Purpose has won three starts from four career outings. These were in succession at 1200m, 1400m and 1500m at Callaghan Park in November and December last year with the most recent on Jan 10. With a penchant for having her runs spaced and being favourable to racing fresh, trainer Taylor’s plans for Divine Purpose come as no surprise.

“She will start first-up in the Classic and will trial (900m) at Callaghan Park next Wednesday (March 8). I’m very happy with her”, Clinton told me this arvo (Tuesday). “And what about Chinny Boom”, I asked Clinton. “She’s just poking along good”, he replied. Wish I was poking along as good as her I thought of the brilliant sprinting filly unraced since a whisker away second in the LR Mode Stakes in Brisbane on December 3.

Clinton has not planned a preparation for Chinny yet but you can bet it will be directed towards Winter Carnival races in Brisbane. By the way re Divine Purpose, her dad Divine Prophet has three of his kids being offered as yearlings for sale at the CYS on April 2. A win the day before by Divine Purpose would see their stocks escalate.

Callaghan Park trainer Jared Wehlow was active through clients at the Karaka Yearling Sales in New Zealand recently. The stable acquired a Tivaci colt and a Prosir colt. “They will stay over there (NZ) for being broken in and educated and will fly back to Australia after a rest”, Wehlow said. With 25 horses in work and “35 on the books”, Jared Wehlow looks to be in for a good season. He commenced training January 2011 with his first winner on January 16, 2011 being Struckbylightning at the Sunshine Coast. Jared trained his 300th winner when Fresh Prince scored at Callaghan Park on, February 10.

Apprentice Tahlia Fenlon, 20 on March 31, only has one more winner to achieve a career milestone of 100 winners. “I have a full book at Bowen races on Saturday so hopefully it might happen there”, Tahlia told me today. Tahlia has come back in fine form since being out for four months after a Twin Hills mishap last September. Her winning ride on Milo Man at Callaghan Park last week was a gem as wily old (sorry Ashley) Butler tried to tactically out manoeuvre Milo and Tahlia during the early and middle stages.

What about Milo Man who is a dream come true for his owner, the former part-time Rocky trainer Geoff Elliot of Allenstown Meats? Milo Man has won five from five for owner Elliott and his astute trainer Nick Walsh who has 13 horses in training. “He seems to have come through last week’s Rocky win all right. All going well he (Milo) will go to Mackay for a Class 6 Plate (1300m) on March 13”, Nick said mid-afternoon Tuesday. I thought to myself, under Set Weights how are they going to beat Milo? Back to Geoff.

He started training in Rocky back in 2009 and had to wait almost three years until November 2012, for his first winner Emotionally Yours. (Got those stats off the great website Racing and Sports). In the 10 years since then until he gave the training caper away in May 2022, Geoff, while only usually having the one horse in work trained another 16 winners. If ever anyone deserves a good horse Geoff Elliott does and he certainly has one in Milo Man who he researched and bought of his own volition online just before Christmas last year. What a Santa Claus “Milo” has become. Don’t be surprised if a big win awaits him down the track Why? Because Milo Man has what all good horses share in common – a will to win! You know what they say “where there’s a will there’s a way”.






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