Racing AROUND Rocky with Tony McMahon.

Published 28 July 2023

Racing AROUND Rocky with Tony McMahon.

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Ian Mill, the outgoing Rockhampton Jockey Club CEO had his last day in that capacity at Callaghan Park today, Friday (July 28). Ian commenced his position with the RJC in mid-August 2021 after serving on its committee. He announced his retirement in May after which an extensive recruiting campaign commenced to source his replacement. David Aldred, with extensive all-round experience in racing and its administration was successful from a long list of applicants. David is expected to take up his new role at Callaghan Park on Monday. Ian Mill plans to spend more time with family and grandchildren. He said that his two years in the role at Callaghan Park had been “educational and at times challenging but mostly enjoyable”. Ian praised his small team at Callaghan Park saying – “we have a dedicated group of staff who manage to deliver top class racing, training and function facilities which are comparable to any of our larger cousins in the south”. 

Rockhampton’s Tahlia Fenlon is almost certain to ride the John Manzelmann trained Savvy Dancer (NZ) in the forthcoming $150,000 Townsville Cup (2000m) on Saturday, August 12. The trio combined to win last Saturday’s Mackay counterpart. I telephoned John at lunchtime on Friday putting that very question to me. “Will Tahlia be riding Savvy in the Townsville Cup”, I asked John. The instant reply was “’Ï hope so”. I told him I knew that Tahlia would be flying up from Brisbane to ride at Townsville on the day. So, I’ll take it as a given that T. Fenlon will be on board.

Speaking of both Tahlia and Savvy Dancer, both are doing the rounds at far flung venues on Saturday. Tahlia has four early engagements for the Toowoomba TAB races on Saturday night. John Manzelmann hits the road with trucks aplenty from Mackay to Middlemount races 245km away. Without cheating and looking up the fields on RISA, guess how many horses he is taking to Middlemount? The answer is 16. Relative Joshua Manzelmann is starting two horses there. I had best not forget John’s sister Tracy Simmons as she will run three horses at Middlemount. In all the Manzelmann’s will contribute 21 of the 39 horses listed to start at Middlemount. But as the old TV advertisement used to go “but wait there is more”. John will also start four horses at the TAB races at Townsville this Saturday as well. Pity help country racing in certain parts without the John Manzelmann’s of this world. John’s Julia Creek counterpart Tanya Parry will have 14 horses at Corfield (no I spelt it correctly not Caulfield in Melbourne) races on Saturday. Last Saturday she had 15 of the 28 starters at Julia Creek. Parry won two races on the five-race program. Corfield is 83km north-west of Winton. If I recall correctly, Rockhampton trainer Dave Bauer many moons back told me he was nominating a mediocre horse (no offence Dave) for a race for what I interpreted as Caulfield, Melbourne. I won’t say what I was thinking until Dave explained Corfield in outback Queensland. He got me fair and square. 

Fantastic entries, 98 in all for next Thursday’s TAB races at Callaghan Park. Sunshine Coast trainer Stuart Kendrick has a big team entered. Another likely visitor from there is Natalie McCall. Nominations have also come in from Toowoomba and Brisbane trainers. Jamie McConachy’s brilliant 3YO Sunnycoast, which has been trialing brilliantly has been entered to start next Thursday which will create considerable interest. 

Out at Middlemount races on Saturday (July 29), Rockhampton apprentice jockey McKenzie Apel, Erin Molloy and Nikki Olzard all have a full book of rides on the five-race card. The ladies’ team will also include Jade Doolan, Natalie Summers and Emma Bell. The girls riding outnumbers the two male jockeys Chris McIver and Colin Lennon by six to two. Unless another two jockeys can be found there are likely to be two enforced scratchings in the QTIS Maiden Plate (1200m). The most interesting entry for Middlemount is John Manzelmann’s last start 2000 metres Mackay Cup winner Savvy Legend (NZ) in the $14K Middlemount Cup 1475m). McKenzie Apel with her 4kg claim will reduce his weight to 61.5kg. Another Rocky apprentice Brooke Johnson resumes riding at Saturdays Bundaberg Cup meeting. Brooke hasn’t ridden in a race since July 1 when she rode a double at Clermont including winning the Cup. She has been sidelined from a nose injury acquired from a horse’s head hitting hers. 

Don’t forget of course that our sister race club at Yeppoon will race next Saturday, August 5 at Keppel Park. Over a long duration the RJC and the YTC have enjoyed a wonderful relationship. It promises to be a most enjoyable race day offering a relaxed atmosphere. The following Saturday, August 12, features the rich Townsville Cup and Cleveland bay Handicap at Cluden racecourse. Rockhampton racing will be strongly represented. On the same day the Gladstone cup (1608m) will be the feature of the Gladstone Turf Club’s six race program.

The national jockey’s premiership which ends for the season on July 31 is really going down to the wire. Brisbane’s James Orman who rode at Callaghan Park last week led Newcastle’s Aaron Bullock 197 to 194.5 at noon Friday with both riding that afternoon. Orman has big books at Eagle Farm and the Sunshine Coast over the weekend. So too does Bullock at Newcastle and Muswellbrook. Like a State of Origin finish, is it not?

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