Racing AROUND Rocky with Tony McMahon.
Published 24 March 2023
I write with a sad heart commencing this column today (Friday) to record the passing last Sunday of Rockhampton’s Len Milner 80. I had planned in the first instance to introduce the column with updates on the upcoming Capricornia Yearling Sales to be held next Sunday, April 2 in Rockhampton. How ironic, as the names of Len and his wife of 58 years Lyn Milner and their Palm View Stud, Pink Lily, are instantly associated with the Sale and the thoroughbred breeding industry in Central Queensland. The couple through their devotion, belief and passion for the CQ breeding and racing industry, were its very backbone. Especially so during seriously turbulent times in the CQ breeding sector just over three decades ago. Len and Lyn dug deep both financially and selflessly driven by an unquestioned belief in its future. They reinvigorated the CQ breeding industry introducing well-bred new stallions which thereby produced a tremendously positive spinoff to racing in and around the Rockhampton region. By doing so it required a massive commitment from the Milners which they upheld and carried out with professionalism motivated by contagious passion. As a result, the CYS has forged forward to the extent of breaking all records in 2022. Space and time, the scourged pair for journalists, limit me today. Briefly however, Len a versatile horseman was also a successful horse trainer through the deeds of his Palm View bred Anastar and Danwana (Kanoot-Anastar) to name just a few. Among the stallions Len hosted at Palm View Stud and Spelling Complex were Ifni, Starmunda, Mapperley’s Star, French Legion, Garrison Savanna and Kanoot. Len took great pleasure in having bred two CYS 2YO Classic winners at Callaghan Park in Iriana Star (2002) and Bonny The Viper (2011). The Celebration Service of Len’s life will commence at 10am tomorrow (Saturday, March 25) at the East Chapel of the Rockhampton Crematorium. My wife Jean and myself, both recipients over the years of Len’s trademark generosity and kindness regrettably will not be able to attend. I’ll be race calling at Moranbah but that won’t stop me reflecting on cherished memories of having broadcast many winners at Callaghan Park carrying the maroon and grey livery of the Milners. Memories such as broadcasting Anastar’s last race start when on December 19, 1997 she beat Packy’s Plot in a Rockhampton Open Handicap. I kid you not, I can still visualise Len smiling like the proverbial Cheshire cat. On behalf of all in the racing and breeding industry, sincerest condolences to Lyn Milner and family. RIP Len.
Look, with so much happening during the coming week with regards to the Capricornia Yearling Sales Racing Carnival the best bet is to log on to the RJC/Callaghan Park Facebook pages and website. All the info is there in relation to social events, race day packages and the CYS functions. Concisely, Callaghan Park race next Friday and Saturday with the latter being the scene for the $150K DVL Finance CYS 2YO (1200m) and the $100K CYS 3&4YO Handicap (1300m). There is a Calcutta function after the races on Friday night as well as a complimentary BBQ at the sales venue on Saturday evening at the Robert Schwarten Pavilion. The CYS with a massive catalogue of 135 yearlings from near and far commences at 11am Sunday. See you there.
Important update for trainers perusing the race program for next Friday’s (March 31) Rockhampton Jockey Club meeting. The Ratings Band 0-55 1200m (QTIS Bonuses applicable) is the first such race of its kind at Callaghan Park. It provides for QTIS bonus prize money totaling $39K. It is for all ages and therefore completely different to the previous QTIS restrictive races for 2YO and 3Y0. So, if you have a QTIS horse despite its age it is eligible for the 0-55 1200m event. I was nearly going to say “as old as Methuselah” are eligible but naturally that is not so as in Australia where the retirement age for racehorses is 12. Anyhow, the new RQ QTIS provision means that the RJC will be able to program a race expressly eligible for all QTIS registered horses bi-monthly while Mackay will program one in the other month. In country Queensland, races for all age QTIS horses are run regularly such as at Moranbah races on Saturday.
Speaking of which the best “placed” or if you prefer “handicapped” horse racing at any race meeting in Australia on Saturday, is the Clinton Taylor trained Attackabeel at Moranbah. Under the conditions of the Mining and Energy Open Plate (1170m), Attackabeel, a last start Doomben 5th/16 1110m in December has been allotted 53Kg with apprentice Brooke Johnson to claim another 2kg bringing Attackabeel in with 51kg. As you are no doubt aware I am more of a stickler for facts and figures rather than excessive quotes in stories. You may be surprised to know just as I was that there will be 21 race meetings held throughout Australia on Saturday. QLD 8; NSW 5; VIC 3: WA 2; SA 2 and NT 1. None in Tasmania. Bye the way at the five QLD country meetings this Saturday at Cloncurry, Longreach, Monto, Moranbah and Roma, 17 horses did not have jockeys declared when I checked earlier today. I fear many will be scratched because of the scarcity of jockeys. We’ll know tomorrow. Anyhow, for the connection’s sake, I hope I haven’t “put the mockers on” Attackabeel.
Callaghan Park trainers and jockeys are heading “bush” and to the “tropics” on Saturday. Trainers Kevin Miller, Tim Cook, Benny Crear and Stephen Rundle along with jockeys Tash Chambers and Tahlia Fenlon are off to the late-great Ken Russell country for Monto races. By the way Tahlia Fenlon celebrates her 20th birthday this coming Friday. Trainers Clinton Taylor and Laurie Clem go prize money-mining in the coal country at Moranbah. Apprentice jockeys Brooke Johnson and Erin Molloy also have rides at Moranbah. Jared Wehlow takes a team of horses to the Cairns TAB races on Saturday while winning the first race at Townsville today (Friday). Last Saturday, CP trainer Darryl Johnston who turned 39 today (Friday – Happy Birthday Dazz) took two to the Gold Coast poly track meeting for a second and third in the one race. Not surprising that highly successful journeyman trainer Clinton Taylor started horses at Townsville races today (Friday). Taylor prides himself in the placement of his horses and it sure works for him with a winning strike rate this season of just over 33%. As the racing axiom goes “if you feed them right, work them right and place them right” they should go all right. Taylor does all three. By the way his star Chinny Boom annihilated them in a Callaghan Park 900 metres barrier trial last Monday.