Racing AROUND Rocky with Tony McMahon.

Published 19 September 2023

Racing AROUND Rocky with Tony McMahon.

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Callaghan Park trainer Dale Whyte will travel his maidener SHOOTINGOFFTHEHAND to Doomben on Wednesday to make his debut in a $62,500 QTIS 3YO Maiden (1050m). Former New Zealand jockey Warwick Satherley has been engaged for the ride in which the 3YO has drawn barrier 5 under 57kg. The very fact that Whyte has chosen a metropolitan debut for SHOOTINGOFFTHEHAND is highly unusual for a Rocky based debutant. It certainly signals that the trainer has a huge opinion of his horse. SHOOTINGOFFTHEHAND did impress in winning a Callaghan Park Maiden trial over 900 metres under Satherley on August 18 at its only public appearance wining by a margin of seven lengths from Ricky Vale trained Arbat. SHOOTINGOFFTHEHAND is a gelded son of Shooting To Win from the Not A Single Doubt Brisbane winning mare Red Handle. At the 2022 Capricornia Yearling Sale in Rockhampton, Dayle Whyte paid $12,000 for SHOOTINGOFFTHEHAND as Lot 126 from the draft of KBL Thoroughbreds. Speaking to Dale after he and his horse arrived in Brisbane on Tuesday morning, he was very upbeat about Wednesday’s Doomben prospects. ‘’Ï love him and he has always shown so much. At his first gallop as a 2YO he showed he was a bit extra then. As he was a big horse, we X-rayed his legs and even though everything was good with them we decided to turn him out for six months. This preparation he just keeps getting better. He won his trial easily, but the best part was that there was a fair bit left in the tank. Then last week I galloped him with one of my best horses and he won the gallop easily” Dale said.  Wednesday’s audacious debut is a classic case of Dale and SHOOTINGOFFTHEHAND’s owners of “never die wondering”. “We thought why not go and we did go straight to Brisbane””, Dale said. SHOOTINHOFFTHEHAND will be in great hands under Warwick Satherley, of whom I have a very big opinion of as a jockey to which his overall record attests.  Good luck Dale and the crew and let’s hope it is a case of “fortune favours the brave”. 

Also heading south this week from Rockhampton will be that grand Cups performer, Ricky Vale’s NAMAZU. Already the winner of two Townsville Cups and a Cairns Cup, Namazu has been allotted 60kg in the $125K Toowoomba cup (2000m). Ryan Wiggins, already having won six times on NAMAZU retains the ride at Clifford Park, Toowoomba on Saturday. Vale abandoned plans for NAMAZU to have a tilt at the Cairns Amateur Cup (Sept 9) after the giant gelding was gallant with a fighting fourth (1.5l) in the Cairns Cup under 61kg on a Soft 7 track on August 26. It was a sensible decision and gave the trainer breathing space to ready NAMAZU for Saturday’s assignment. Managing owner Rocky’s Pav Cheimardinov and his fellow owners of NAMAZU have won 10 quality races with the Medaglia DÓro (USA) 6Y0 which cost them $40K at a tried horse sale in 2021. Since then, from my math’s, NAMAZU has returned them $573,275 from winning and place money making him a rare and fortuitous purchase. ‘’After the Toowoomba Cup we are going on for the Queensland Cup a fortnight later”, Pav told me early on Tuesday afternoon. “Ricky reckons he (NAMAZU) will run the distance”, he concluded. The $160,000 Queensland Cup (2400m) is staged at Eagle farm on Saturday, October 7. Central Queenslanders will be cheering loudly for NAMAZU which epitomes excitement and gameness in a racehorse. Ricky Vale has done a magnificent job with the horse.

Speaking of Ricky Vale, he and his apprentice McKenzie Apel were successful early on the Mackay card this afternoon (Tuesday) with Freckle Rock which is also a big horse in stature. Certainly, looks capable of more wins ahead. Apprentice Tahlia Fenlon also enjoyed early afternoon success at Mackay winning on the John Manzelmann’s Capital Girl. Tahlia, who on Saturday night won the Chas Jones Memorial Award at the RJC’s Awards Ceremony at Callaghan Park has certainly been all over the place in the last week. Tahlia rode at Bowen races last Thursday, Ipswich the next day Friday, Dalby on Saturday, Sunshine Coast on Sunday and Mackay today (Tuesday).  She moved to Brisbane on loan to Chris Munce at the beginning of May. Since then, in South-East Queensland up to and including last Sunday, she has had 54 race rides and won five races. Currently, Brisbane and South East Queensland have the strongest ranks of numerous jockeys for many a long year. I won’t be at all surprised if Tahlia Fenlon returns to her Rockhampton base when her period of loan expires. That is just a personal opinion but if that occurs Tahlia has had a wonderful experience and will be all the better for it. Let’s wait and see, shall we?

Another young lady getting among the winners is Gabrielle Semmens who is indentured to Tom Button of the Tyrell and Button training partnership.  Already this month Gabrielle has ridden seven winners from Cairns down to Gympie and out to Emerald. Early today (Tuesday) she won on Mister Selfie at Mackay which followed doubles at Bowen last Thursday and at Gympie on Saturday. Gabrielle’s Bowen winners were on Tom Button trained horses while she also combined with the former premier trainer winning with Letsotho Diamond at Emerald and Rocky owned Cocobrew Express at the Cairns Amateurs. Tom Button has also been among the winners from his Bowen base this winter. Expect to see Button’s horses racing more often at Callaghan Park from here on in. If that is the case, it is good news for Rockhampton racing. 

Congratulations to all the winners from the RJC’s Awards Presentation at Callaghan Park last Saturday. Trainer Ricky Vale (premier), Nick Walsh (Strike Rate of the Year), apprentice Melea Castles (premier), jockey Ryan Wiggins (premier), Hayley Wilshire (Strapper of the Year), Rob Burnell (Barrier Attendant of the Year), Knight’s Sword (Horse of the Year), Divine Purpose (3YO of the Year) and Shamedy (2YO of the Year). Trust, I haven’t missed anyone – congratulations all. Also, to Callaghan Park trainers Ricky Vale and Clinton Taylor for their recognition as monthly award winners in the ATA’s Wayne Wilson Medal function in Brisbane last Thursday night.

Don’t forget the RJC races again at Keppel Park, Yeppoon next Tuesday, September 26 and the big Emerald 100 races at Pioneer Park out there on Saturday, October 14.

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