Racing AROUND Rocky with Tony McMahon.

Published 3 May 2024

Racing AROUND Rocky with Tony McMahon.

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Rising star, the Clinton Taylor trained juvenile colt Astapor looked simply awesome in winning his 900 metres trial at Callaghan Park this morning (Friday, May 3). Astapor (br c 2 Tassort-Black Mink x the recently deceased Lonhro) was ridden by stay over Brisbane’s Justin Stanley. He won his heat by 6.25 lengths. His time of 54.6 seconds was superb while coming home the last 600 metres in a scintillating 32.89 seconds – rarely recorded at Callaghan Park. A 38K purchase by Rodney Hay at MM Gold Coast in January 2023 and already a Doomben winner, Astapor has earned $128,800 from two wins and a last start fourth to Storm Boy at Eagle Farm on December 23. Taylor had marked the $1M Magic Millions National 2YO Classic (1000m) at the opening night of racing under lights at the Gold Coast on Friday, May 24 but the meeting is deemed going to be transferred to another avenue. “Very happy with him. I wish they would make their minds up about where it is going (to be held) and when. It is very difficult trying to set a horse for it not knowing the details,” Taylor said today.

Rockhampton trainer Ricky Vale reports last Sunday’s The Archer winner Namazu has done “very well” since. “The BRC Sprint over 1350m at Doomben on May 25 is his next target”, Ricky said on Thursday. Vale was on the road to Townsville (717km) early Monday morning less than 24 hours after Namazu’s win with two horses – Pretty Slick and Track Tale. If that’s not dedication from a trainer I don’t know what is? Deservedly they both won. 

Had to laugh to myself. When the Archer ($440k) was inaugurated in 2022 many local stakeholders decreed “that’s no good for the locals – they can never win that race”. They did the same again in 2023 ($775K) and leading into last Sunday’s ($775K) version. Never heard a single word from the gloom merchants after local owners Pav and Ravi and co, trainer Vale and the jockey Ash Butler won with Namazu last Sunday. Funny that, isn’t it? The substitute quote was running rampant “isn’t it great for the locals?”  Life’s lesson especially in racing is “never say never” as it will come back to bite you. 

Alton Downs trainer Kerrod Smyth and wife Glenda have enjoyed success with passed-on tried horses over the years such as Mocial Chief which I once tagged their ATM. Now it seems they have another in Sunday’s Amateur Cup winner Devil Kick. “Owner, Fred Noffke believed Devil Kick had gone as far as she could after winning here in February. I begged Fred not to sell but he went ahead, and my daughter’s boyfriend George Carpenter bought Devil Kick for $4500 online,” Kerrod told me. Apparently, unbeknownst to George a friend bought another horse for both to race from the same online sale. “George said he couldn’t race them both, so he leased Devil Kick out to my wife Glenda”, Kerrod said. Fortuitous for both the “G’s” as Devil’s Kick has recorded three wins and a second under the new arrangement reaping $48,200. Devil Kick chases another Amateur Cup ($35K) at Mackay on Saturday week with Warwick Satherley the likely rider. By the way under Fred Noffke’s ownership, the mare won him about $80K.  

For those inquiring about why Warwick Satherley has not been riding the past week, it is because he was suspended over breaching a whip rule in a race (too many strikes). Trainer Warwick’s very smart horse Sir Grace (NZ), three wins in Rocky from four starts is enjoying a little break. “He’ll have a short rest before I get him ready for the Carnival here soon”, Warwick told me. Good thinking.

Kevin Miller’s top mare Isis Carmella’s recent disappointing runs have been too bad to be true. “There had to be something amiss after her poor effort last Sunday in The Fitzroy. I had her scoped back home, and the vet discovered a serious wind problem. She was retired immediately and not sure what stallion she will be mated with,” trainer and part-owner Miller reported. Kevin won a Townsville Cleveland Bay Handicap with the Bel Esprit mare as well as 11 other races for $394,800. One of those wins – the 2022 Twin Hills Cup was a novelty for such a gifted sprinter to have on her CV.

Also preparing for a new career is Callaghan Park 1200m record holder, Clinton Taylor’s Princess Tenko who was retired after failing and dropping out quickly in The Archer last Sunday. Meanwhile, the connections of Sunnycoast, owners Bryan and Lorraine Hall and trainer Jamie McConachy are bewildered about that horse’s lethargic 20 lengths beaten effort last Sunday. “Something has to be wrong with him. We are going to get him tested for Ross River. We just don’t know what is wrong,” Bryan informed me. Sunnycoast had won four from eight starts including the 2023 CYS 2YO Classic for a bank of $180,200. Ross River is a mosquito virus that affects humans and horses and can be debilitating. 

Don’t forget last Saturday’s Brisbane winner In Evidence (R 9 – TAB 7) contests the Queensland Guineas (1600m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday for trainer John Wiggington and jockey Nikita Beriman. Could be worth a little dabble “each way.” 

No surprises that visiting horses from SEQ and the Darling Downs region comprised 31.4% of Thursday’s 54 RJC starters. That percentage blossomed out to account for about $84% of the winners – they won five of the six races. Unanimously, the five winning trainers vouched “the tracks are just so wet down there.” The current state of the Callaghan Park track is the envy of SEQ connections. Expect more of the same there on Tuesday week, May 14.

Happy Horses everyone – Tony McMahon.

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