Racing AROUND Rocky with Tony McMahon.

Published 3 April 2024

Racing AROUND Rocky with Tony McMahon.

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Wow it’s all about to happen – the RJC Festival of Racing and Sales – Where do I start?

Friday’s racing fields are out and about for Callaghan Park and in the main they are the most competitive fields to do the rounds there for some time. The Nick Walsh and One Syndications former Victorian Hell (Race 1 -TAB 2) will be all the rage for the Len Milner Trophy Maiden (1050m) at 1.34pm. Lovely to see a race named in honour of the late Len Milner (Palm View Stud), one of the original founders of what is now the Capricornia Yearling Sale in Rockhampton. Also, the timing is perfect with the CYS on Sunday and the CYS 2YO and 3&4YO being run at Callaghan Park on Saturday. I can just envisage Len and the late John Wedmaier from Stewart Park Stud, also an instrumentalist in the CYS, looking down from above and keeping a close eye on the yearlings in the sale and the graduates in the Sales races at Callaghan Park on Saturday. 

Speaking of which, now Bowen based trainer Tom Button who has actually won the CYS 2YO Classic on two occasions – one with Miss Lot Won in 2020 (she won the 3YO Classic as well later that year) and then with Valley Rattler the following year, has two runners in this year’s edition. They are – Silver Glitter (Luke Tarrant) and Sean Cormack on Sewn Up. Just on Cormack, the former South African has ridden over 1200 winners and been based in Brisbane for a lengthy period now. According to Racing and Sports he has ridden 12 GR 1 winners in his home country. Personally, I feel from what I have seen Sean is a top-class jockey going under the radar in the highly competitive Brisbane riding ranks. There is no doubt that Luke Tarrant is top class, and he has now relocated to be based in Bowen with Tom Button which is a huge plus for racing in the Central and Northern Districts. Tarrant is gifted and it is fair to say his career has at times been testing but he has ridden almost 500 winners. Among them was the 2015 Magic Millions 2YO Classic winner Le Chef managed by Mt Isa’s Lennore Saunders and trained by former Callaghan Park mentor Darryl Hansen. Speaking on his prospects in the Saturdays big juvenile, Tom Button opted for Tarrant’s mount Silver Glitter. “She won very well first-up two starts back at Townsville and then second up there she did a good job from a wide gate to chase down the winner Margot Barbie who also runs on Saturday. The 1200 metres is really going to suit Silver Glitter in the big one”, Button said. Speaking of the Georgie Holt trainer Margot Baby, Georgie told me today (Wednesday) that the filly will be ridden by Jackson Murphy. As a handicapper in times gone by, Margot Babie will meet Silver Glitter some three kilograms better for beating the latter in their recent last start clash at Townsville. It’s a big pull in the weights in favour of Margot Baby.

How true, you just never know who you will run into on a racecourse. If you would have told me I would reconnect with former Kiwi jockey Philip Smith at the Callaghan Park barrier trials last Tuesday week, I would have certified you as mad. Lone behold I noticed this gentleman with the frame of a former jockey with trainer Kevin Miller near the horse stalls. Sure enough, it was Philip Smith who in 1987 won the inaugural Magic Millions 2YO Classic at the Gold Coast on the then Sally Rogers’ trained brilliant Lunchtime colt Snippets. Back in those days for a horse to win over $1M was a huge deal and Snippets did just that during his career before becoming a success at stud. Philip Smith proudly carries the picture of his 1987 MM win on Snippets on his Facebook Cover Page and on his Iphone. I was fortunate to be training at the Gold Coast track (now Aquis) at the time and saw Snippers work there almost every morning leading up to that win in January 1987. Philip retired from riding around 1993 and in later years has the proprietor of a number of bars and cafés in Thailand. “My business suffered substantially from the effects of the Covid outbreak and to be honest they never recovered”, Philip candidly told me. He admitted to being highly impressed with the racecourse at Callaghan Park. “By gee that is a long straight (600m). Every horse should get its chance to win on this track,” Philip said while watching a trial in progress. Back to Snippets, P. B Smith was so in awe and had so much gratitude for the horse that he named one of his establishments in Thailand after him – “The Snippets Sports Bar and Café”. Ï had six Australian Group 1 winning jockeys having a drink in there one day”, Philip reminisced. He will be at the massive Callaghan Park race day on Saturday as an interesting observer. Just looking at Philip (don’t forget to spell it with one l,”, I reckon he would be lighter than most jockeys riding in the Big Classic on Saturday. Philip gave my colourful attire the twice over as I suspect he said to himself – “Tony you haven’t changed”. He is looking forward to catching-up with Damian Oliver at The Archer at Callaghan Park on April 28. Going through the catalogue of around 111 yearlings at the CYS on Sunday, if you look close enough you will find descendants of Snippets and Lunchtime. As the saying goes “their blood is worth bottling.”

Clinton Taylor reports that Chinny Boom’s interrupted preparation leading up to The Archer is back in track after the mare ran brilliantly in an “unofficial trial” at Deagon earlier this week. “I wasn’t down there as Erin (wife) is looking after the horses (Princess Tenko as well) and she said Chinny went well. Justin (Stanley) rang and said he was very happy with the way Chinny ran. So, I am happy. She may stay down and start in a race on Saturday week in Brisbane before coming home for The Archer,” Clinton said. On Saturday. Clinton Taylor starts Travelling Sweet (Stanley) and Boggie Fever (Justin Huxtable) in the CYS 2YO Classic. In the 3&4YO Classic Justin Stanley will ride The Hairdresser while apprentice Brokke Johnson partners the Taylor trained stablemate I’m Bluey.  

Master Jamie will be ridden by his winningest jockey Les Tilley in Saturday’s top notch $30K Rockhampton Regional Council 2024 Mayor’s Cup (1200m). He will carry the full weight of 67.5kg. Les “Bubba” Tilley has won 10 races on Master Jamie including two Rockhampton Cups. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if win number 11 is shared together by The Master and The Bubba on Saturday.

More over the next day or so folks. As the advertising guru Big Kev would say “I’m Excited”.

Happy Horses – Tony McMahon

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