Racing AROUND Rocky with Tony McMahon.

Published 25 September 2023

Racing AROUND Rocky with Tony McMahon.

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Racing heads down to Keppel Park, Yeppoon tomorrow (Tuesday) for the final of the RJC race meetings there over the refurbishment period of Callaghan Park’s Turf track at Rockhampton. Late today some 56 horses looked like competing after five early scratchings. This is an increase from last year’s corresponding meeting which attracted 49 starters. The most surprising albeit positive aspect of the seven race TAB card is that some 16 jockeys will be riding which always adds its own competitive component to race days. Premier trainer Ricky Vale has six Yeppoon starters, so he is in for a busy afternoon. Ricky’s star Rocky galloper Namazu has “’gone to the paddock” after finishing out of a place in the Toowoomba Cup (2000m) after being beaten only 3.2l under 60kg last Saturday when sixth in the 14-horse field. Another Rocky owned galloper in Enuff He Said ran the race of his life in the Cup when 2.6l fourth behind winner Military Gambler. Enuff He Said, managed by Sharon Coome was transferred from son Adrian Coome who has wound down his operation to friend Stuart Kendrick and won for that stable at Doomben on September 10. Notice the Rich Enuff gelding is entered for Eagle Farm this coming Saturday. Back to Yeppoon on Tuesday, the latest report the Keppel Park track was rated a Good 4 and the weather prediction for Tuesday is for temperatures ranging from 16 to 25 degrees. The first race commences at 1.12pm.

Two Rockhampton based jockeys earned brief “holidays “at venues many kilometres apart over the last few days. Damien Boutet rode a winner Test Of War at Twin Hills on Friday but was suspended on a careless riding charge in another race. Damien is out from midnight September 30 until midnight October 8. At the Sunshine Coast, Warwick Satherley had no such luck in riding a winner but copped 10 days on a similar charge on Jason Morgan’s well beaten Media Empire. Warwick’s penalty commences after Yeppoon races on Tuesday where he has four rides, and he is back at work from October 7. 

According to all reports the completion of building works on the highly impressive looking members lounge and function rooms overlooking the Callaghan Park saddling enclosure is nearing completion. There was a bevy of activity when I went out for a “Bo Peep” this morning. The very trendy or I will go as far as to say State of the Art design will provide for a completely new dimension for race viewing at Callaghan Park. The “L shape” of the elevated viewing deck will allow for unprecedented viewing of the race starters virtually galloping head on down the long Callaghan Park finishing straight. It should be first class. I cannot say for certain that it will be entirely operational for the next Callaghan Park race day on Sunday, October 8 but RJC CEO David Aldred believes it will be opened in early October. Racegoers with access to the facility will be delighted at what they see. Also, the new look entrance gate “box” facility to Callaghan Park is also well and truly in the throngs of completion. Looking good Callaghan Park! 

At the Mackay Turf Club’s race meeting last Tuesday, the premiership awards took place. Not surprisingly, Rockhampton racing stakeholders played a dominant role. Callaghan Park’s Jared Wehlow took out the Mackay trainers’ premiership while Rocky’s Tahlia Fenlon won the Apprentice Jockey Of The Year title. No prizes for guessing who was awarded champion jockey for the 2022-23 season, yes that’s right Ryan Wiggins. Of course, he is the current premier jockey at Callaghan Park as well as was the case the previous season. Jumped into a taxi in Brisbane recently after the Australian Trainers Association annual awards-dinner and the taxi driver asked me “where are you from”? Naturally, I replied Rockhampton to which he said, “that’s where Wiggo (Wiggins) is the king of the jockeys”. We never stopped rabbiting about racing all the way to the destination.

Which reminds me just how much racing is such a fickle business – in the penthouse one day and the out house the next. Years earlier in 2017 for memory, at the Brisbane races one day I was introduced to a cove and the question again was where are you from. “Rockhampton “and he said “Justin Stanley territory. He is the best jockey to back there” and there was no doubting that as Justin “Judda” Stanley was king pin at Callaghan Park along with Nathan “Grubby” Day or years. That changed when Justin was out for periods through injury and similarly with Nathan and about then Ryan Wiggins arrived on the scene somewhat by chance.I know that for a fact as on May 29, 2018, I had Ryan Wiggins ride my mare Gai Of The Galaxy at Callaghan Park. He was not a regular at the time and I recall asking him along the lines of are you going to ride up her from now on”? Ryan replied similar to this “no I am just filling in today”. That’s where destiny began for Ryan Wiggins purely inadvertently and good on him. Similarly on that same day in Brisbane day I was alluding to earlier at Eagle Farm, Nathan Day was riding Paradis Imperial for us. Spoke to Tony Gollan and he said, “I see you have the king of the north riding her’’ (Nathan Day). It dawned on me just when I wrote that very line now ‘’what has become of Nathan Day”. A google search revealed he had not ridden in races since his last ride on a winner at Mareeba on September 2. As had no luck contacting Nathan, I rang around and through Kylie Welburn was referred to popular Sunny Coast jockey and regular Fly In hoop Nathan Thomas. “Tony, Nathan sustained a bad break up high on his left arm just days before the Cairns Amateur Carnival. It occurred from an accident while riding trackwork at Cairns one morning. It was a bad break. He flew to Brisbane to doctors late last week but I believe there may not be surgery required – I am not sure. However, he could be out for up to possibly three months. It’s terrible luck for him as he has been flying in the north”, Nathan Thomas told me. Nathan knows all about that as he was sidelined through injury for about half last season, he told me. Best wishes to Nathan Day and I hope he is back sooner than rather later. Also, it is good to see Nathan Thomas re-establish himself again as he is not only a gentleman but a talented jockey as well. I have always said and will always say that jockeys are the most courageous sports people in the world and unquestionably the most resilient.

See you all ON THE ROAD AGAIN and RACING AROUND CAPRICORNIA in the days ahead – HAPPY HORSES – Tony McMahon. 

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