Racing AROUND Rocky with Tony McMahon.

Published 6 November 2023

Racing AROUND Rocky with Tony McMahon.

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Weight, usually in the form of that allocated by the handicapper is often a bone of contention in horse racing. This racing tale is about weight – not the handicap form but the actual body weight of the horse. Tom Smith trained flashy and talented galloper Acres Away (ch g 3 Top Echelon-Hoywedge x  Chosir) is the horse in question, A winner of four of his six starts which comprise three 1100m 2Y0 Handicaps in Mackay and an Eagle Farm 3YO (1200m) on August 5, followed by a Doomben third has naturally attracted the attention of would-be buyers. An agent for a Hong Kong buyer apparently agreed to purchase Acre’s Away for $300,000 but in an unusual twist the sale was not completed. Managing owner Rockhampton’s Mitchell Power explained why when I inquired after hearing on the grapevine about the overseas offer. “He was to be sold to Hong Kong for $300K but his weight came against him. Acre’s Away weighs in at 384kg but he had to be 400kg for the sale to Hong Kong to go ahead and that’s why it didn’t”, Mitchell told me just before the horse trialed at Callaghan Park this morning. My dealings with potential Chinese buyers over the years attest to them having a persuasion for big horses and not ones judged by them as small. However, as the saying goes “good things come in small packages”. Acre’s Away (Ashley Butler) made considerable ground when second beaten a half-length by Ricky Vale trained Eye Pee Oh Ready in his 900 metres trial this morning. He “blew “considerably after the trial confirming Mitchell’s observation that “there is still a lot of improvement in him to come”. “Tom (Smith) has a BM 70 over 1050 metres first-up for him in Rocky on November 21 against the older horses picked-out”, Mitchell said. Good luck to Mitchell and wife Anna Power with Acre’s Away and let’s hope Hong Kong’s loss is Rockhampton’s gain. Mitchell and his father the race caller Scott Power shared in the ownership of the dam of Acre’s Away in the Chosir mare Hoywedge which won four races at Callaghan Park.

Well known thoroughbred breeder Bruce Watts of Riverside Thoroughbreds, Alton Downs was pleased with himself after Cobbo (b g 3 Carrara-Madame President x Statue of Liberty) scored a runaway win in the QTIS Maiden Plate (1000m) at Keppel Park, Yeppoon last Saturday. “Do you know I could not get a bid on him at the sales (Capricornia Yearling Sales) when he was offered so I am thrilled that he won so well,’ Bruce said. Naturally passed-in on a $3500 reserve, Cobbo earned $10,450 for the Yeppoon win for Bruce who retained him to race in partnership. Very thrilling for all concerned with the win. Jockey Raul Silvera Olivera (rode winner) through points accrued as well from two other placegetters won the trophy for “Jockey of the Day “at Keppel Park and the likeable South American had a grin on his face like a Chesire Cat. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Raul Silvera Olivera is a very skilled jockey and a delight to deal with. Rockhampton training partnership the Michael and Christine Dore husband and wife team were also chuffed by the win of Cobbo. These days the couple only have the odd horse in work (I mean odd as just one or two) and Saturday’s breakthrough win for them was long overdue. I believe their last winner was with Bogey Man at Callaghan Park in October 2021, but they have only had a few starters in the ensuing two years. Lonely feeling not having led in a winner for ages – been there done that Mike and Christine. Hope you celebrated last Saturday night but why wasn’t I invited?

The Keppel Park meeting last Saturday, the traditional Derby Day races scheduled by the Yeppoon Turf Club was an outstanding success. The racecourse was full of life and appropriately dressed ladies and gents sporting of course the traditional colours of the occasion “black and white”. Not without a word of exaggeration, the biggest crowd I have witnessed at Keppel Park in attending the races there since 1988. You could barely move in the undercover areas which also house the bookmakers’ ring. To get to the ring to obtain the opening markets I deviated out and via the lawn in front of the covering. Club secretary Mark Hornery said final figures had not been tallied when I enquired but she believed that my estimate of 2000 racegoers was conservative. “We certainly had many more younger people in attendance than at the corresponding day in recent years. It certainly was a huge crowd and the fashions by all concerned was a joy to the eyes”, Mary said. Out on the track racing was nothing short of first class. Apart from Cobbo’s short course demolition by 4.25 lengths of the Maiden, the other four races were closely contested. Art By Concorde’s nose win in the G.J. Gardner Yeppoon Cup/Country Cups Challenge Qualifier (1400m) had to be seen to be believed. Lumping 61kg and last most of the way and trapped very deep Art By Concorde came with a barnstorming finish to win in the last stride. It was nothing short of a freakish win. The winner of the $200,000 Battle of the Bush at Eagle Farm during winter, Art By Concorde is now into the $200K Final (1600m) on December 2 at Doomben. Only bad luck will beat him which is a brave call some four weeks out. Roma trainer Craig Smith won the Trainer of the Day through his winners Keenzap (Brodie Moffat), Craig and Hoff (Tasha Chambers) and of course Art By Concorde (Liv O’Donnell). Also, good to see Thangool trainer Jason Devine get the money with another late charger in Adam’s Apple (Chris McIver) in the Class B (1400m). Well named is the Nicconi 6YO as Adam’s Apple’s dam is Garden of Eden – you have to love cleverly named horses. The Lyn Petersen trained runner-up Body and Soul is also aptly named being sired by The Mission and from the mare Cleanse. What’s in a name – considerable thought in the those two.

Don’t forget Rockhampton races again this Friday. As I have commented on so many times before numbers as far as for 2YO’s in the early part of the season will never be quite like what they used to be in races such as Friday’s feature 2YO Breeder’s Plate (1050m). Once in Rockhampton the prize money for the Carlton Plate, now Breeder’s Plate, was above that of later races for the youngsters. That all changed with the QTIS Bonus Scheme introduction for 2YO’s which was a windfall for racing in QLD. Let’s hope though that extra noms will come before the extension closing time at 10am on Tuesday as so far just five 2YO’s have been entered for each Breeder’s Plate heat.  The shortage of early season babies isn’t confined to Rocky. Only six and eight respectively started in the equivalent the Pallarenda 2YO Stakes at Townsville last Saturday week. What about Flemington tomorrow (Tuesday) when just eight youngsters will contest the $200,000 Maribynong Plate (1000m) where even the last home receives $4000 prize money. As is said “it is what it is”. 

Finally, I’ll bet Callaghan Park trainer Jared Wehlow was feeling a little on the flat side after Ready By Design was a gallant 0.6 lengths third in the marathon heat of the Jericho Cup (3090m) at Beaudesert last Saturday. I thought when Ready By Design was out on its Pat Malone with a commanding lead with about 400 metres to go that it was “home and hosed”. I wouldn’t have blamed Jared for thinking the horse looked the winner there and would be heading to the $300K plus Final of the Jericho Cup (4600m) at Warrnambool in early December. However, not to be and Ready By Design was run down over the last 75 metres to be beaten for third. Just goes to show as they famously say “ it ain’t over until the fat lady sings”. That’s Dinky Die Aussie, meaning don’t count your winnings until the race is finished – or quite simply don’t presume victory while the race is still running.

Happy Horses all and trust you back the Cup winner – Tony McMahon.

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