Racing AROUND Rocky with Tony McMahon.

Published 8 December 2023

Racing AROUND Rocky with Tony McMahon.

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The topical theme “it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” appropriately sums up what will be taking place at Rockhampton’s Callaghan Park race meeting tomorrow, Saturday, December 9. The occasion is the Rockhampton Jockey Club’s Family Christmas Race Day. No doubt you have read all about what is planned on this site and also the RJC website. Children of all ages are catered for with a wide schedule of events taking place. The Kid’s Fashions with some alluring prizes will once again be a highlight of the meeting. The future race goers will be really dressed for the occasion. The club promises it to be a fun day for all the family. It is certainly a fabulous opportunity to treat the kids to a day out to start the Christmas school holidays. The first of five races commences at 1.22pm but the gates to Callaghan Park open at 11am. What about this – it is FREE ENTRY, so everyone is the winner right from the start.

Let’s see if I can help find you a winner or two. Callaghan Park trainer Jared Wehlow holds the key to the first race, the Open Handicap (1400m). Jared has three of the five starters – Kobe Rocks, Letmeletgo and Fresh Prince. Complicating matters all the more is that each of the trio could easily win the race. However, on form lines especially referencing LETMELETGO (3) when a nose second at his last start to Art By Comcore over 1400m at Keppel Park, Yeppoon on November 4, he is my pick. Art By Concorde franked the form with a game third in the Country Cup Final 1600m at Doomben last Saturday when he was a victim of a very big weight. With just .05kg over the minimum LETMELETGO is my choice. I do have respect though for the Graham Green trained KOTABHARU (4) which resumes from a break but races well fresh and has worked and trialed pleasingly. Incidentally, another pointer towards LETMELETGO is that Wehlow scratched him from another race on the card to concentrate on this event. 

The second race, the Benchmark 70 (1200m) is a trap for young players as quite frankly each of the seven horses all have genuine winning credentials. The Kerrod Smyth trained OCEAN EMPEROR (4) put up a fight with his close second to Media Empire at his first local start here recently and had good SEQ form before moving north. The only knock is that he has failed to fire “second-up” as is the case here on all five attempts. Form purists will tell you that there is no better form-line than “winning form”. This is illustrated by the Clinton Taylor trained JANEAN (8) which has strung together four consecutive wins. OK granted, they were in much easier class but were carried out stylishly. Taylor takes advantage of 3kg claiming stable apprentice Brooke Johnson to reduce the weight of JANEAN from 57.5kg to the lightweight of 54.5kg. This brings JANEAN in with a big pull in the weights which could compensate for the class rise. A free running type, that weight advantage could be a winning factor. Reiterating though, for punters the race is fraught with danger. If there is an upset Graeme Green trained THISLAND IS MYLAND (3) could be the purveyor. His third behind the top gallopers Chinny Boom and Master Jamie in a Callaghan Park barrier trial recently was first class. 

Race 3, the Maiden (1100m) has some interesting runners. The Kevin Miller trained PLAYFUL KISS (2) just “died” on what looked to be a winning run when first-up for 13 months for close second here similar race 1050m November 21. Has a wide draw to overcome but fitter for her first day back last start. Definitely one of the leading contenders. Leanne Applewaite’s former southerner EXCITE CHOO (4) comes off a last start third at Canberra on September 19. Going back through its form did finish close-up 3 lengths away in a city class Warwick Farm Mdn over 1100m. Ideally drawn and has in-form Adam Sewell aboard. Expect a bold showing. That strong wining combination of trainer Clinton Taylor and jockey Justin Stanley who have combined for 87 wins together, have a newcomer here in former Team Hawkes, Victorian STAVANGER (10). Has been placed four times in Victorian Maidens – much stronger than this- but over longer journeys. Caught the eye winning a Yeppoon barrier trial in August and unseen again until a recent trial here which was OK. Has big pull in the weights over most rivals and while likes it further is fresh and ready to win first-up. Respect seriously. The other two chances come in as Kerrod Smyth’s DIVINE KAHEHALANI (8) and the Dore trained POTESTAS (5). How they all parade pre-race could be a big influencer.

Race 4, unfortunately folks it does not get any easier as the program progresses as is the case with this 0-60 (1100m). Local trainer Jared Wehlow produces a relatively new addition to his stable in RIDEAU (6) which is first-up after solid second 1400m at the Sunshine Coast in September. At previous start and first for the stable won a Cairns Carnival Mdn earlier in Sept. Has his share of ability and races well fresh as is the case today. Looks suitably placed. Graeme Green’s DESERT MOON (7) has talent but mixes his form a little. However, his last start third to Peggy Boom this track Nov 21 was appealing. On his best in with excellent each-way prospects. Mark Cochrane trained KEFALONA (2) has been racing well and consistently. Lot to like on last start close third behind a smart galloper in Luvin’Our Grace at Mackay recently. If runs to than and gets cover from wide draw right in the mix. At the bottom of the list is John Wigginton’s PARA PARA CHANCE (10). Hard to catch but under lightweight and favourable draw is an outside chance. The first-up win of the Tasha Chambers trained and ridden FIGHT IN THE DOG (1) was meritorious. However up 5kg in weights and hazardously drawn. Never won second-up.

Race 5 the final event, a BM 55 over 1400m. Let’s hope the racing adage “the lucky last” plays out for punters. By far the two most serious horses here are the topweights. Toni Schofield’s Barcaldine trained ENCROACHMENT (1) and Jared Wehlow’s PEPPERDINE (2). Both are highly credentialled. ENCROACHMENT (1) comes here after a last start impressive 1300m Mackay Cl 3 win on November 16. Had good form down south before migrating west and with the ideal draw looks the horse to beat. PEPPERDINE has won only two starts for the new stable over 1200m and 1300m at Rocky and Mackay. Looks very hard to beat. Suspect that Graeme Green trained JUST LET IT OUT (6) has pleased the stable to be contesting a 1400 metres race first-up. Give plenty of respect. The Clinton Taylor trained I’M BLUEY (5) is ultra consistent and has claims in a stronger race such as this. Kerrod Smyth’s TOM ROCKS (8) is also a place chance. 

BRIEFLY in other local racing news.

Congratulations to regular Drive In-Drive Out/Fly In-Fly Out Sunshine Coast jockey Adam Sewell on his top ride and exciting win on the Olivia Cairns trained Fire King in the $200K Country Cups Challenge Final (1600m) at Doomben last Saturday. Adam has been doing the hard yards around Rockhampton and Mackay in recent years and his Brisbane win was well deserved. Adam will be in action at Callaghan Park this Saturday. 

Capricornia Yearling Sales graduate, the very talented DIVINE PURPOSE which won the 3&4YO CYS Classic for Clinton Taylor earlier this year’s races at Ballarat on Saturday under the Peter Moody and Katherine Coleman banner. After a 1600 metres second when resuming at Caulfield on November 18, she is engaged in Race 16 as TAB 16. Reports suggest ready to win now. Great advertisement for the RJC’s Capricornia Yearling Sales next April. Widely travelled former Rocky galloper ZIGGY ROCKS is also engaged at Ballarat and well as being entered for Werribee on Sunday. Been a great money spinner accruing around $250K in prize money. I am sure the Halls from Graceville Thoroughbreds will be watching wherever Ziggy starts.

Trainer Graeme Green reports that stable star Master Jamie trials at Callaghan Park on Monday. All going well if he pleases Graeme, “The Master” will be off for a first-up crack at the $200,000 LR Favelon Quality (1200m) at Eagle Farm on December 23. A close relative to Master Jamie in the 2YO Mahia has pleased the Green stable in early training and is now having a break. Shamedy that very talented young horse has come through his first start back when forth to Chinny Boom in Rocky last week in excellent fashion. Look out for him down the track when suitably placed in the not-too-distant future. 

Rockhampton’s talented apprentices Nikki Olzard (Roma), McKenzie Apel (Bundaberg) and Erin Molloy (Home Hill) are chasing more winners this Saturday in those centres. Trainer Darryl Johnson goes for a drive up to Home Hill with some stable runners.  

GOOD LUCK AND HAPPY HORSES – TONY MC MAHON. 

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