Racing AROUND Rocky with Tony McMahon.

Published 17 April 2023

Racing AROUND Rocky with Tony McMahon.

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The all-consuming welcomed news bulletins which come out daily from Jonathon Offord (Rocky Amateurs) about Rockhampton’s richest race the $775,000 The WFA Archer (1300m) are in some ways mind boggling. How fantastic to have three times winning Melbourne Cup jockey Kerrin McEvoy plying his trade at Callaghan Park on Sunday week, April 30.  Just brilliant – keep them coming Jonathon.

Speaking of The Archer, did you catch the run of GR 1 winning mare Startantes in The Ascot (1000m) at Eagle Farm when resuming from a spell last Saturday. Rob Heathcote trained Startantes was flying home in the straight to come from a long last to finish 4.2l away 8th behind stablemate the winner Prince Of Boom. She was in a blanket finish for fourth and under 58kg the run spelt “flashing lights’’ of be on me next time, written all over it. Startantes will represent RJC chairman Robbie Carr and wife Leonie in The Archer which they won last year with Emerald Kingdom. Similarly, Emerald Kingdom’s run in the Ascot for fourth was also meritorious. He was trapped off the track throughout but finished resolutely for fourth. Sure, the run would have delighted his Bucket List slot holders headed by Kev Kenny.

Kev was very upbeat about Emerald Kingdom’s chances in The Archer when we have a brief conversation at Callaghan Park last Friday. Kev drew some previous comparable scenarios of consecutive wins in two of Australia’s biggest races when discussing his hopes for Emerald Kingdom. “Well, Archer won the first two Melbourne Cups (1861/62) and Redzel won the first two running’s of The Everest (2017/2018)”, racing historian Kev said. I could virtually hear Kev thinking that was a good omen for 2022 Archer winner Emerald Kingdom. However, Kev it could also be interpreted that way as well for the Carr’s as owners of Startantes after they won with Emerald Kingdom last year. Food for thought?

Mention of jockey Kerrin McEvoy, who would ever have guessed he would be riding at Callaghan Park in Rockhampton. The three times Melbourne Cup winning jockey – Brew (2000), Almandin (2016) and Cross Counter (2018) will be aboard Maotai in The Archer. Did you see the run of Maotai when second in the last at Randwick last Saturday. If not, I suggest you watch the replay. Anyhow Kerrin McEvoy and Maotai are other stories for another day. Quiet a few Melbourne Cup winning hoops have ridden at Callaghan Park including Peter Cook and Harry White.

Racing at Callaghan Park on Thursday with good entries. Apparently, some of the regular FIFO jockeys on which Rockhampton racing is so reliant will be missing from the roster. Instead, they have taken commitments to ride at the Cairns TAB races on Friday and then stay in the north for the Townsville TAB gallops on the Monday. Makes sense as they cannot do the impossible. See where Rocky trainer Tim Cook has a sole entry for Cairns on Friday in the form of Sirfina. It’s a hell of a haul to Cairns from Rocky – some 1066km or 12 hours by road. The new breed of trainers certainly don’t mind a hike. Then again, I took Shady Handout up for the Cairns Amateurs about 20 years or so ago. He was a brute in a float and I reminder lining it with two thick foam mattresses. I had a test run and took him for a float trip up the Razorback to Mt Morgan. Shady copped it pretty sweet which convinced me I could float him safely to Cairns. We got Shady there unscathed after a stopover with the late Terry Butts in Townsville. After his unsuccessful run in the Amateur Bracelet, Shady obviously got the “you know what’s” and really bunged on a kicking performance on the float trip back to Townsville for an overnighter which would have done the Brisbane Lions proud. He wasn’t injuring himself but driving me crazy with his ruckus. I couldn’t cop anymore and when I saw a Brisbane Livestock Horse Transport Truck parked In Townsville, I was relieved. I spoke to the driver and bingo he had a “spare seat” so I unloaded and transferred Shady Handout on to it. I breathed a sigh of relief I can tell you. In compartments in horse transports old Shady travelled like a lamb which the bemused driver told me when he unloaded the horse to me in Rockhampton. Gee, he was a good horse and won a stack of races including the Yeppoon Newmarket under Wally Welburn. Which leads me to Keppel Park races this coming Saturday for their first meeting of the year. It is one of Queensland’s most picturesque racecourses in a rural setting within just a few kilometres to the beaches. Quite an enigma. See you there.

Travelling horses, well looks like plenty of Rocky’s good ones and promising ones heading down The Bruce to Brisbane’s Doomben races this Saturday. Headed by Clinton Taylor’s Chinny Boom (Dittman Plate) and Divine Purpose (Princess Stakes). Then there is Graeme Green’s equine automatic teller machine (ATM) Master Jamie (Tails Stakes) and his talented juvenile Shamedy (2YO) while John Wigginton floats down Street Glory (Princess Stks) and Para Para Park (2YO). Nick Walsh drives down with Age Of Innocence (BM 90) and Just Super (BM 72). If I have missed any others, I am sorry but I am exhausted from just writing about all the travel!

Incidentally, before we know it the Rockhampton Jockey Club’s Winter Racing Carnival will be upon us. Dates to remember are the Rocky Newmarket (1300m) Friday, July 7 and the Rockhampton Cup, Saturday, July 8. The RJC will be bumping up the publicity and planning machine I would expect straight after The Archer and Rockhampton first $1 million race day is put to bed on Sunday week, April 30.

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