Racing AROUND Rocky with Tony McMahon.

Published 12 September 2023

Racing AROUND Rocky with Tony McMahon.

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I found it hard to believe that former Rockhampton premier trainer Lyle Rowe celebrated in very low-key fashion his 83rd birthday at a Rockhampton Age Care Facility last Saturday.

There was Lyle as large as life (yes, he has put on a kilo or two) tuned in to the television when his loyal second-lieutenant Melinda Morris and I popped in to see him. 

‘” I never miss watching all the races”, Lyle said through that customary cheeky smirk of his.

As a jockey Lyle’s biggest claim to fame was winning the 1967 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) on the Con Doyle trained Mister Hush.

What a claim to fame it was and still is for Lyle.

The GR 1 race that year and indeed the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival was the victim of non- relenting rain. 

The Stradbroke was postponed twice from Saturday to Monday only to run on the following Thursday.

I can vividly remember seeing a picture of Lyle returning victorious to the winners’ enclosure aboard Mister Hush. 

Around that time and for more than a decade, Lyle Rowe was a jockey of choice for the powerful Fred Best stable in Brisbane where he was among the most prominent jockeys.

In the seventies he took his saddle north to Mackay and then Rockhampton and success followed by Rowe’s side.

He won the Rockhampton Newmarket Handicap twice -through Wentwel Lad (1976) and Kero (1980). 

In the eighties he took up training in Rockhampton on a part-time basis while also employed in a home furnishing business. 

He trained his small string from stables behind his and late wife Patricia’s residence in Tomkins Street, Berserker.

As the winners started arriving regularly through the likes of Storm Boot and King’s Love and many others, training became his career of choice.

Eventually he moved the operation to on-course stables at Callaghan Park racecourse. 

Lyle Rowe went on to become premier Rockhampton trainer from 2012 up to and including 2015. 

In 2011 he won the Rockhampton Cup with Cannyclimb and other top horses he prepared around that time included Kilwinning Option, Laurenel Impulse and Mythologist.

In August 2020, Lyle was seriously injured when leading a horse from his stables to the tie-up stalls for early morning trackwork.

There were no witnesses to the actual accident, but it was reported that ä loud thud” could be heard.

Lyle was subsequently hospitalised for some considerable time and after that his stable gradually wound down.

He officially retired on July 29 last year bringing about an end to a magnificent and enduring career of 68 years in the racing industry. 

The stable’s last starter was Legal Chance in January 2022. 

Lyle’s last winner was with the Di and Bill Ouston’s Bantu Bay (10/6/21) with the couple remaining loyal to Lyle Rowe to this day.

It made my Saturday seeing Lyle Rowe’s smiling face as we relived races, racehorses and racing people even if we did stretch the truth a tad! 

I know I will cop a serve from her, but the loyalty and care that Melinda Morris has provided for her “boss “Lyle goes far beyond the call of duty.

Melinda was Lyle’s “2 I C” for close to 20 years.

‘Mel is great worker, loyal and honest and I would be lost without her’, Lyle said as he spoke, and they hugged on Saturday.

Having known and been in Lyle’s company for 53 years it was the ultimate compliment from the sometimes-gruff exterior the old softie portrayed. 

“Lyle was a good boss, and we never had an argument. We may not always have agreed but we got on really well and became good friends”, Melinda said.

Speaking personally, Lyle Rowe was a good friend who I always entrusted to train my horses in a caretaker capacity such as when I was taking Rocky folk on racing trips around the world.

His myriad of friends and associates in racing throughout Queensland will be delighted to know that Lyle Rowe is well and still actively engaged as “ä rider in the stand” watching the races daily.

Keep on watching Lyle and hope you enjoyed Melinda’s birthday cake as much as I did. 

IN BRIEF: Kevin Miller reports that Isis Carmella may have “gone to the well once too often” in reference to her disappointing last at Doomben last Saturday. “She goes to the paddock now” he said. “She has done a fair bit of travelling”, Kevin added. Saturday’s last in the NMW (1350m) was the only time in her career of 28 starts that have netted 12 wins and 11 placings for $393K, that Isis Carmella has tailed the field. Nick Walsh reported Bollente, which also put in an out of character ninth of 11 in the Doomben Mile (1615m) had pulled up well.” He got back a bit far and the track seemed to suit those runners on the speed. He will have a week on the water walker down in Ipswich before we decide plans for him, “Walsh said.

John Wigginton’s In Evidence, which produced a fine fourth (2.58l) to Deep Respect after being caught three wide throughout in the QTIS 3YO (1350m), will also stay down at Ipswich for a water-walking-week.” I thought it was a huge run. The jockey Bailey Wheeler) came back to the enclosure critical of his own ride. The plan was to go forward”, Wigginton said. From where I was sitting in front of the TV, for In Evidence to keep on giving in the straight after covering extra metres-plus throughout the race was outstanding. Wigginton now has the $137K QTIS 3YO (1400m) in mind for In Evidence on October 7 at Eagle Farm. “The big track there and the extra distance should suit him down to the ground”, John said.

Don’t forget the RJC’s premiership presentation evening at The Members at Callaghan Park this Saturday evening. Contact the club for more details.

While doing that check out the details on this site about the RJC Ball in November.

Happy Horses – Tony McMahon. 

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