Racing AROUND Rocky with Tony McMahon.

Published 3 August 2023

Racing AROUND Rocky with Tony McMahon.

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Remember the song “Duncan”?

You may know it better as Ï love to have a beer with Duncan” released by Slim Dusty in 1980.

Slim in his inimitable way introduces quite a few character names in the song with whom he would “love to have a beer with”.

Along the lines of Ï love to have a beer with Duncan cause Duncan me mate”.

I have no doubt had Slim known him he “would have loved to have a beer with Feno”, simply because Feno was just about everybody’s mate.

Raymond (Ray) Edward Fenlon (AKA Feno) was a Rockhampton icon in so many persuasions.

To me he was simply Ray or Raymondo and he passed away peacefully at the Mater Hospital last Friday night July 28 at the age of 77when as his son Tony said “’last drinks were called”.

A butcher and making no bones upon that he was good at the trade; his natural entrepreneurial skills forged him success in other fields.

A restaurateur (The Ranch) and motelier (Motel 98), Ray Fenlon found his niche with wife Dawn in Rockhampton’s Cambridge Hotel which became a home away from home for both locals and return visitors.

In my book it was as a publican there for nigh on 25 years that Feno found his calling.

Affable, jocular, sincere and indeed welcoming, he had that magnetic attraction that like old mate Slim would have sung about “Have to have a beer with Feno”.

He was a publican’s publican and a racing wise one at that.

Most importantly, Feno was a good listener and in many ways his roost at the end of the Cambridge bar could have doubled for a confessional.

I can still hear him saying to me after I had confessed a few grumbles as he shook his head “won’t say a word about it”.

And he didn’t.

Some say his penance was most forgiving and even enjoyable as he shouted out “have another beer”.

I first met Feno, on Friday night June 10, 1988, on the eve of the Rockhampton Newmarket, (Rusty Sand, Bill Kenning) and the lead up to the Cup the Arthur Beak Handicap.

Naturally, it was at the Cambridge Hotel, and I remember tipping him my horse from the Gold Coast in Konedobu to win the Beak Handicap.

In jest, not sure if Ray didn’t say a word about me tipping him Konedobu though, as Konnie was well and truly labelled coming in to start at 7/4.

Accordingly, Konnie won by four lengths and the beers flowed on that Saturday night 35 years ago and another Feno mate ship was christened.

I would never have envisaged that Ray, a “larger than life” figure would have a petite granddaughter who would go on to become a champion Rockhampton apprentice jockey and Mackay Cup winner.

Tahlia Fenlon did just that and made her “pop” ever so proud as well when she rode for Hall of Fame trainer Lee Freedman in the Rockhampton Cup last month.

This column is not the forum for me to compose the Ray Fenlon story in full which believe me would fill many chapters, but it is appropriately fitting for acknowledging Feno’s funeral arrangements.

All relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend a Funeral Mass to celebrate the life of Ray to be held in St Joseph’s Catholic Cathedral, William Street, Rockhampton on Wednesday August 9 commencing at 11am.

You know I have always been a believer in fate as such was the occasion at Gladstone’s Ferguson Park racecourse on Saturday, May 29, 2021.

I called the races and was reporting on the meeting in which Tahlia Fenlon rode her first winner Absolute Bonza and later in the day another in Arjacee (RJC).

The reporter in me took over and I quickly arranged and took a photograph with Tahlia and her proud parents Tony and Jodie and grandparents Ray (Feno) and Dawn inside the winning stall – No 1.

 

I know the Fenlon family treasures that picture which has been widely distributed on social media outfits.

Ray (Feno, Raymondo) or whoever was as proud as punch, grinning like a Cheshire Cat as the accompanying photograph I snapped depicts.

If ever a picture “’painted 1000 words” endorsing that winners are grinners that one certainly did so.

However, it conjures up far deeper expressions of family love.

As the proverb goes – “he that loves the tree, loves the branch”.

Feno did just that for generations to come.

In closing to the love of Feno’s life his wife Dawn, sons Tony, Paul and Brendan and their immediate families, relatives and friends, deepest condolences.

In your time of grief, it must be so calming and reassuring to treasure that Raymond Edward “Feno” Fenlon’s life brought so much happiness and laughter in so many ways to everyone fortunate enough to become his mate.

Rest in Peace – old mate –  and hope you have a beer with Slim up there Feno.

 

SURPRISE, SURPRISE – I have overwritten so I’ll try to be brief with the rest of the column.

Word has it that former gifted Rockhampton jockey Dale Evans who has not ridden in races since June 2019 is back riding track work at Callaghan Park.

Dale, now 39 can you believe, had a topsy turvy jockeying career riding about 850 winners including winning two Rocky Cups – the first on Riva Rebel as an apprentice in 2002.

Three years later he won as a fully-fledged jockey on Konray Star in 2005.

Regrettably, on occasions Dale made the headlines for the wrong reasons.

He has a special gift that many jockeys respectfully and regrettably never attain – natural ability!

Personally, I wish Dale every success should he desire to grit his teeth and get back to jockeying.

Known as “Darby” to many, I hope now that Dale can fulfil his potential on the racetrack and if he gets back riding and earns his stripes again, I will put him on at the drop of a hat.

 

Thrilled hearing that another gifted talent, Rocky apprentice jockey Brooke Johnston was the toast of Bundaberg last Saturday.

After almost a month off after surgery for a horse-inflicted broken nose, Brooke won on her only three rides at the Cup meeting there.

She won on Clinton Taylors impeccably bred and well related Russian Whisper (Russian Revolution Artful Whisper) and Stocial (Lightning) and later-on Jared Wehlow’s Kobe Rocks in the Cup.

Now with 40 winners beside her name, Brooke is going places and good ones at that.

Rockhampton apprentices dominated at the well-attended Middlemount Cup meeting last Saturday where the Dachshund races earned a whopping $9000 for the Rescue Helicopter Appeal.

Tim Cook’s apprentice Erin Molloy rode a winning double bringing her up to 15 winners.

Adrian Coome’s apprentice Nikki Olzard who only commenced riding on May 27, brough up her   10th winner taking out the Middlemount Cup on John Manzelmann’s Motamayiz.

Ten winners in just two months of riding are a very big statement.

Ricky Vale’s McKenzie Apel landed her fifth winner on Glenda Bell’s Tupelawara.

Rockhampton racing is indeed fortunate to have such a group of high achieving apprentices based in the city.

Clermont jockey Emma Bell, the daughter of William “Trumby” Bell rode her 158th winner at Middlemount aboard Coco Royal.

It just seemed like yesterday that Emma lobbed at Callaghan Park with her dad to ride in barrier trials.

It was 2017 and Emma, through the dedication of her mother Jenny and dad Billy (Trumby to me) has gone on to fulfil her ambition to be successful as a jockey.

Take a bow all you ladies riding so well.

Another very successful young lady apprentice jockey Jade Doolan has had to forego a good book of rides at Callaghan Park today (Thursday) after being hospitalised from a horse kick to the leg on Wednesday afternoon.

Shocking to hear that once Rocky based jockey Sonja Wiseman 31, has sustained a broken nose and lost teeth after a brutal attack by a group of men early last Friday morning in Darwin.

The serious facial damage came about after a rock was used to inflict injuries on Sonja who was in her car outside her house.

The attack has sent shock waves through the Darwin racing industry with the iconic Darwin Cup Carnival in progress where Sonja was in keen demand.

The jockey believes she is very lucky to be alive and could have faced a worse fate had not security guards from a nearby military base come to her aid.

Sonja, a very popular jockey during her Rockhampton stint is due to marry her partner Tommy Logan in three weeks’ time.

Now a successful Darwin trainer and former jumps jockey in Victoria, Logan was in keen demand during his time in Rockhampton with Sonja when riding track work at Callaghan Park.

Speedy recovery Sonja from all your friends in racing in Central Queensland.

Finally, don’t forget the you beaut races at Keppel Park, Yeppoon on Saturday and Gladstone Cup the week after.

Until we meet again everyone later this week ‘’On The Road Again”- Happy Horses Tony.

 

 

 

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