Racing AROUND Rocky with Tony McMahon.

Published 28 May 2024

Racing AROUND Rocky with Tony McMahon.

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Connections of Namazu, the recent winner of the $775K Rocky Amateurs The Archer (1300m) certainly acted in the best interests of their horse when scratching him from the $300K GR 3 BRC Sprint (1350m) at Doomben last Saturday. Namazu had been in Brisbane for a week in preparation for the race and as the saying goes “was rearing to go.’’ However, the weather Gods had other ideas. Managing owner Pav Cheimardinov explained – “Rain early on Saturday morning put an end to him starting. He is not at his best on rain affected tracks and we did not want to risk him. It was an expensive exercise, but he certainly doesn’t owe us anything. You just have to act in the best interests of the horse. It was a tough decision but that is the way it goes,” Pav explained. Namazu has returned home to trainer Ricky Vale’s Rockhampton stables and may have his next start in the LR $160,000 Spear Chief Handicap (1500m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday, June 8. Pav was spot-on in his assertion Namazu did not owe his connections anything. All bar approximately $78K of his prizemoney haul of $1.076,470 has been achieved under Ricky Vale’s training. Close enough to $1M which is a mighty achievement for a horse trained in regional Queensland out of Rockhampton. 

Rockhampton trainer Clinton Taylor was chuffed with the effort of Astapor when first-up fifth (5.08l) behind Arabian Summer in the $1M Magic Millions National 2YO Classic (1050m) at Doomben last Saturday. “Ï thought his run was super. Terrific actually. He couldn’t have gone any better. I believe it will be a very strong form race as well,” Taylor told me today (Tuesday). It was a nice little prize money pick-up as well earning $25K for fifth placing. Clinton said Astapor would now likely next start in the LR $160K Oxlade Stakes (1300m) at Eagle Farm on Stradbroke Handicap Day, Saturday, June 15. As for the stable star Chinny Boom, she is set to contest the LR $160K Helen Coughlan F & M Stakes (1200m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday with Justin Stanley to ride. A winner of eight races and $586,050 in purses, Taylor is adamant that the “inside running” after drawing the rails barrier was instrumental in Chinny Boom finishing 5.03l 11th behind Aureous Angel at he last start in the Bright Shadow (1110m) at Doomben on May 18. “Chinny beat Tiger Shark (7.25 lengths 13th) home in that race, and it came out and won its next start at Doomben last Saturday so the form stacks-up,” he reasoned.  

Speaking of Tiger Shark’s win in the $140,000 3YO Fillies (1110m) at Doomben, the Rich Enuff filly was the “Queen Pin” of a brilliant week for her Sunshine Coast trainer Natalie McCall. Just two days earlier Natalie won with Scribble and Played at Callaghan Park, Rockhampton. Then less than 24 hours after Tiger Shark’s win, stablemate Brave Maso won at the Sunshine Coast. Played, a late maturer is a son of that brilliant juvenile filly of her time, Playtime a daughter of Foreplay which was trained by Tod Austin from Barcaldine. I can recall Austin floating Playtime to Yeppoon to get her racing certificate when an unraced 2YO. I checked the record today and sure enough it happened on October 5, 2010. I thought to myself at Keppel Park that day, this (Playtime) must be pretty good. It was a natural assumption as the float trip alone from Barcaldine to Yeppoon to trial comprises of about 620km. Tod Austin’s opinion of Playtime was warranted as after winning that Yeppoon trial she won the F & M Breeders Plate (1050m) on debut at Callaghan Park on October 21, 2010. Playtime went on to become an Eagle Farm winner and ran some mighty races in very high-class city company. She won six races in all. Played, a son of Sidestep is a big boy and I suspect he will win his share of races as to win on debut over 1300 metres anywhere is against the norm.

Callaghan Park trainer Graeme Green is another having a winning run at present. A Mackay double on Monday through Phoenix Flyer and Outback Bandit shared with Gold Coast FIFO jockey Chris Whiteley was the stables fifth winner over the last four weeks. They followed wins by Desert Grit, Desert Koby and millionaire stablemate Master Jamie. Incidentally, the Green-Whiteley combination is by no means new. I was under the impression that Graeme and Chris shared wins together with Master Jamie when he was a 2&3YO. My motto is “always check and never trust your memory”. Anyhow in this instance it was correct as in April and December 2019, Whiteley twice won on Jamie at Callaghan Park. Ricky Vale also landed a winning double at Mackay through Fighting Commando (McKenzie Apel) and the very smart Sennaprost (Ryan Wiggins). Earlier, McKenzie won on Joshua Manzelmann’s Bold Hunter during the Mackay card. That double brought up Apel’s tally to 35 winners after a victory a few days earlier on Svindal at Gladstone last Saturday. McKenzie is a gifted young apprentice rider about to explode onto the Rockhampton racing scene. 

Senior Rocky jockey Ashley Butler was  also a winner at Mackay on the Tom Button trained Our Benefit. 

Talented Callaghan Park apprentice jockey Brooke Johnson may not have ridden a winner there last Monday but in one sense she was a winner. Brooke featured in the Mackay steward’s report after her ride on unplaced Our Heart Throb. It read – “Following the running of the race, B. Johnson was examined by QAS officers after being struck in the face during the race and assessed for concussion. She was cleared of concussion however may have had dental injuries.”  Any racing writer worth their salt would follow this up in regard to the leading apprentice being injured leading into a Rockhampton race meeting coming up on Friday. I assumed (NEVER assume) that Brooke had been struck in the face by a clod or some foreign object through “kickback’. Wouldn’t you? Anyhow, I rang Brooke, and she explained her mount Our Heart Throb was throwing its head around during its pre-race preliminary and it struck her in the face with its head when about 100 metres away from reaching the barrier stalls. “I’m OK it just head butted me, and I have a busted lip and that’s all,” Brooke assured me. Brooke 21, who has ridden 90 winners to date, will be in action at Callaghan Park races on Friday where she has a full book of rides at this stage. Good news, Brooke. 

Happy Horses everyone and see you at the Callaghan Park races this Friday. 

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