Racing AROUND Rocky with Tony McMahon.

Published 29 February 2024

Racing AROUND Rocky with Tony McMahon.

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It was just fantastic to see popular horse trainer John Poots, who sustained serious brain injuries from a horse related incident at his Rockhampton property last July being greeted by his mates and well-wishers at the Callaghan Park barrier trials and jump outs last Tuesday. For me it was the highlight of my day to see John looking so well. It is well documented that John spent months and months in hospital and rehabilitation centres in both Brisbane and Rockhampton. John said he really enjoyed his first time back at Callaghan Park publicly since his accident. “It is a real good feeling to be back on the racecourse. I’m progressing pretty well and feel pretty good,” John said to me on the day. Let’s just say in racing parlance that John is “not ready for a gallop just yet” but he looks a different man to when I last saw him come out of rehab with helpers to attend the funeral of his and my good friend, the Rocky trainer Phillip Burke last October. John Poots still has a long road to ride before he will be fighting fit again by gee, but he is navigating it brilliantly – he has made astounding progress. Today (Thursday) when I gave him a ring, he was undergoing some more rehab at Rocky Hospital. The term “ÿou are a legend “is far too widely and incorrectly used these days but I’ll go on record of recording “ÿou are a legend John Poots” which has come about by not only your resilience and character but the loving care from wife Louise. Not of course downplaying the brilliant medical teams and nurses. 

It was like a mini-race meeting at Tuesday’s heats and jump outs with eight trials and seven jump outs housing 77 horses at Callaghan Park last Tuesday. No surprises for by far the most impressive win being that of the Clinton Taylor trained Chinny Boom. Do yourselves a favour and either log on to the RJC sites or RQ barrier trials and watch the brilliant mare in action in barrier trial number 2 over 900 metres. The jockey, Justin Stanley barely moved on “Chinny” and had he, the winning margin would have been lengths morethan the 0.81 lengths she was officially recorded at winning. The winning time of 54.86 seconds was very slick but what about the sectional of a low flying 32.68 seconds for the last 600 metres. Had Justin Stanley loosened his grip on the reins and extended his arms I feel the times would have been nothing but staggering. It was top class heat with Cups guru, Ricky Vale’s Namazu second marginally ahead of Graeme Green’s pair of Shamedy and Master Jamie. Only 1.64 lengths covered the quartet. Chinny Boom of course is off to the Gold Coast for a super day of racing at Aquis Park for the $197,500 plus bonuses Military Rose Plate (1100m) for fillies and mares on March 9. There she will feel more or less at home with a number of other Callaghan Park horses competing for the “Jewel” series of races. They include Master Jamie, In Evidence, Acre’s Away and Sunshinyday and maybe one or two more.

Trainer Clinton Taylor was smiling like a Cheshire Cat after Chinny Boom’s trial. I popped the question – “has Chinny been secured by a slot holder for The Archer ($750K – April 28)? Clinton confirmed that indeed Chinny Boom has been booked to represent one of the 12 slot holders for Regional Queensland’s richest race.  Clinton in a few words confirmed that was the case but he was not at liberty to disclose the identity of the astute slot holder or holders. I respect that. He said “it is going to be a great race. I wouldn’t be surprised if Rothfire or even Prince of Boom lined up”. Sure, is going to be a magic race on that Sunday at Callaghan Park and the suspense is just starting to warm up for The Archer.

In other news from the Taylor stable two-year-old star Astapor, the subject of staggering offers late last year returns to training next week. “Ï reckon he may have grown a hand,” Clinton said. A star in the makings, Astapor will be back at the races in a few months from now. Taylor trained Valorous Performer, the winner of the filly’s edition of the Breeder’s Plate here last Spring also won a 900 metres trial last Tuesday. The daughter of Basil Nolan’s Raheen Stud, Warwick based stallion Heroic Valour, subsequently ran fourth at Doomben at her only other start. She is looking “forward” and will come back racing in fine fettle. At last year’s Capricornia Yearling Sale, Valorous Performer fetched $26K. Raheen has a big draft of yearlings coming for the CYS on April 7 at the Rocky Showgrounds. Have a look at them as over the years Raheen has produced a dynasty of juvenile winners in Rockhampton in most of the feature juvenile races at Callaghan Park. While speaking of the CYS Carnival of grand racing at Callaghan Park on Friday, April 5 and Saturday, April 6, make sure you keep up to date with all the functions on the RJC website and Facebook page. CEO David Aldred has confirmed that the Saturday evening Welcome Meet and Greet BBQ which has traditionally been staged at The Rockhampton Showgrounds featuring a parade of yearlings has changed venue this year. “The welcome BBQ will now be held on the deck at the racetrack after Saturday’s races (April 6) have concluded. The committee (RJC) have confirmed that there will not be a sale parade,” David informed. Back to Clinton Taylor, he scrapped plans to run the very talented Princess Tenko at Eagle Farm on Saturday after she drew 14 barrier. Wise decision as patience pays. As the late great Bart Cummings would say “the cheapest thing in racing is patience but too few people have it”- something like that anyway.

Back at Callaghan Park last Tuesday I noticed and caught-up with former leading Rockhampton apprentice jockey Zoe White who rides trackwork now for Clinton Taylor and other trainers. She dismissed rumours of a jockeying comeback with “hell no.”  Zoe said she returned to Rockhampton, her home base, three weeks ago and would like to obtain work outside of racing on a daily basis after riding early morning trackwork. I promised I would spread the word Zoe so that has now been done. Zoe White burst onto the Rockhampton racing scene in late 2014 and during the 2015/16 season rode 80 winners which was a mighty effort. All up she has ridden just short of 200 winners. After leaving Rocky in 2020 she rode for a short time in South Australia. She has not ridden in a race since November 2020. Zoe rode in some of the jump outs last Tuesday and not surprisingly won two heats on Ricky Vale’s Pretty Slick and So You Battle. Watching the rides, Zoe hasn’t lost any of her touch. Who knows somewhere down the track she may reconsider her jockeying future. Just a thought but regardless I wish Zoe well.

Graeme Green certainly is enjoying a fabulous winning run. From my figures and bearing in mind I flunked math’s at school, Graeme has produced a dozen runners during February for six winners, a second and two thirds and as many fourths. Yes, that’s correct as I just checked. His only other starter Thisland Is Myland ran fifth! Modestly, Green attributes it all down to “a lovely bunch of horses in training at the moment.” Fair enough but credit where credit is due, and Graeme is a very astute horse trainer. When speaking to him at the trials he spoke in glowing terms of Shamedy’s effort when a close third to Chinny Boom. “It was really a run from the 3YO Shamedy,” he enthused. Shamedy will next start in $137K QTIS 3YO (1500m) at Eagle Farm on March 16. It will cap a busy period for Green who will be up and down the Bruce Highway like a yoyo with starters at the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast beforehand. Not forgetting the Magic Millions March Yearling Sales at the Gold Coast on March 11 and 12 where he hopes to acquire another lovely horse or two. 

If you fancy a nice drive out in the country for a great day of racing, mark in the Springsure St Patrick’s Day Club races on Saturday, March 9. It is the club’s 71st such meeting which is a grand effort. Word is the track and facilities are spic and span and a good season has done the track surface the world of good. Springsure track is one of the biggest as far as circumference goes on the QLD country circuit. Then you can back ap at Callaghan Park on Saturday, March 16 for the bonanza St Pat’s Day races there and here in Rockhampton. There are all sorts of things happening trackside with the Coco Brew Fashions on the Field being a highlight. Great RJC sponsor, your friend and mine, King Robin Adams will be making a special guest appearance at the FOTF. Then after the races there is an After Party with Ryler Air performing. I’ll never forget the After Party at the Killarney races in Ireland some years back. It was on a racing tour of Central Queenslander’s I hosted in Ireland. The Killarney leprechauns told me there would be taxies available at the racecourse gate after the party and Irish Jig under the grandstand. Of course, there weren’t and a group of about 20-plus of us dressed to the nines had to hoof it a few kilometres back to our accommodation. If ever you get to Ireland, mark down Killarney racecourse as it must be the most picturesque in the word. 

Happy Horses everyone – Tony McMahon.

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