RACING around ROCKY with Tony McMahon
Published 20 April 2022
I keep writing about the classy line-up of jockeys regularly riding at the RJC’s so called mid-week (not that Monday, Tuesday and Friday fit that category) TAB race meetings. As I have said “one door closes and another opens” is very much applicable to when regular fly-in jockeys are outed or injured. Check out the card for Thursday’s Callaghan Park races. Wiggins, Pengelly, Stanley, Murphy and Thomas could pretty well be deemed honorary Rockyites. Now on Thursday with Nathan Day, Chris Whiteley and Les Tilley sidelined, enter Jason Taylor, Sairyn Fawke and Ben Thompson. Is that the former lightweight Victorian Ben Thompson who is now Brisbane based and has enjoyed success on boom youngster Prince Of Boom? Sure is and for omen punters his sole Callaghan Park engagement is on another of the Spirit Of Boom breed in Kevin Miller trained Boom Time Baby (Race 6 -TAB 7). The engagement is ironic in many ways as Ben is somewhat “baby faced” – wish I could say that about me. He is also a gun rider winning 527 races for over $21M in prizemoney. One of those winners was Mamselle Tess in a GR 2. Welcome to Rocky – Ben. Speaking of jocks Les Tilley phoned in the other day to say he will miss The Archer on May 7. Les will be out for some time yet with a broken hand – ouch!
For the life of me I cannot understand how some trainers are shy of taking their horses to what is generally labelled as “bush or country” race meetings. A general term granted but certainly not applicable to Gladstone Turf Club. Without fear of contradiction that club would consistently have the best attendance figures of any country race meetings in Queensland. There were nine country race programs in Queensland last Saturday and it was standing room only at Gladstone’s Ferguson Park racecourse. Officially 1500 people attended – seemed like many more to me. Callaghan Park’s John Wigginton took out the $8500 Maiden (1000m) with Liverpool Gal (Cyril Small). But what about this? Rocky trainer Stephen O’Shea (Manifica) and his father the trainer Jim O’Shea collected the first prizemoney of $9500 when their gelding won the QTIS Class 1 (1194m). What’s so special about that you are probably thinking? Well, there were only three starters in the race – that’s right 3. Jim is a laid-back character and has a laconic sense of humour. He has a way of making the most negative of conversations humorous. For that reason, I once branded my good mate Jim “the Minister for Negativity”. Not anymore after Saturday’s result Jim clearly is now a worthy contender for the title of “Minister for Positivity”. Good on you Jim and Stephen for placing Manifica so well. Wasn’t that a nice little earn for about a 75 minutes Saturday afternoon drive?
The Archer, Rockhampton’s richest race at $440K is just around the corner. In-form young Callaghan Park trainer and former bronc and steer rider Nick Walsh will have quite a few of his team running on that big Saturday. Stable star Bollente will contest the $75K The Fitzroy Open (1300m) while up and comer Deep Breath chases the $30K Rocky Amateurs Cup (1600m). Wouldn’t be surprised if another of the Walsh-Winton owner Clarrie Hermann combination of Age Of Innocence also bobs up that day. That Kiss and Make Up (named after the Gai and Singo incident) filly broke the hearts of her rivals winning a 1200 metres Maiden here on DVL Finance CYS race day on Saturday week last. Nick has a select team in work and he has a bright future in the training ranks as so many of our younger trainers do. He like many of his age group have the added advantage of being able to ride their own horses trackwork should they wish. I pass there but I do have international experience having ridden a camel In Dubai and elephant on lead in Bali.
In BRIEF: Sad to record the recent passings of former Callaghan Park trainers Spike Tranberg and Jacko Sigvart. Both men were major contributors to the Rockhampton racing industry for almost a lifetime and racing still runs deeply in the veins of their offspring. Sincerest of condolences to both families. Emerald’s Glenda Bell gets a bouquet for training four winners at her home course last Saturday. So does Townsville based hoop Jeffrey Felix for 10 hours’ drive down to answer an SOS and ride at Gladstone the same day. That travelling trainer Clinton Taylor has horses entered at Wondai races this Saturday – that’s about 450km away. Maybe Clinton will opt for Yeppoon which is just 50km down the road.
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: “If you haven’t stood in my shoes don’t try to wear them”.