Records could break at Callaghan Park’s massive race meeting Thursday!

Published 12 April 2024

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More than likely next Thursday’s Rockhampton Jockey Club race meeting will break records for the club. As you are aware 12 races are programmed, and 144 horses were nominated at first closure today (Friday). Two races, the Open (1500m) and the BM 70 (1300m) are borderline at this stage but entries for the pair and some others have been extended until 10am Monday. Hopefully, those two races will stand-up and a dozen race card will proceed. As I said in a previous column, this would on the basis of races staged be the biggest in the history of racing in Rockhampton and that goes back just over 156 years. Regardless, if only 10 races come to fruition it would still be a record prizemoney day for the RJC as just over a half-a-million dollars would be distributed. 

The possible early start at Callaghan Park next Thursday would not be the earliest time a race meeting has commenced there. I remember clearly discussing with the late great Leprechaun, Terry Molloy  about scheduling a mid-morning start to the races conducted by his Tattersall’s Racing Club there in May 2001. The first race was run at 10am and sometime later for memory there was a “lunch siesta” (break) and away we went with the other half of the program that Saturday afternoon. It was unique for a race meeting in Queensland at the time and well could still be. Remember it because I was the on-course broadcaster in those days. 

RJC CEO David Aldred said if 12 races proceed, racing most likely would start next Thursday at just after 10.30am and finish sometime after 5pm as sunset is tipped for 5.47pm on Thursday. Rightly he said the news of some leading additional jockeys riding at Callaghan Park on the day would be excellent for turnover. These jockeys include two of very high status in the GR 1 winning race riders Jim Byrne and Samantha Collet who have ridden just over 4050 winners between them.

I have always had a big opinion of Capricornia Yearling Sales graduate Ringer’s Reward which as a result of new entries being drawn is now in the $118 CYS 3 & 4YO Classic (1300m). Spoke to her Toowoomba trainer Kevin Kemp mid-afternoon today (Friday) and he is waiting on the word from Ringer’s owner who he said was “out bush” as to whether the filly would start. Hope she does as would add considerable interest as to what already is a strong list for the race.

With the scratchings of both Ranch Hand and At Witz End from Chinny Boom’s race in Brisbane tomorrow (Saturday) I would say the Clinton Taylor trained mare will more than likely start. Clinton told me earlier this week he was holding off on a decision until Saturday morning. The race will be or was to be, her final crucial start before the $775K The WFA The Archer (1300m) at Callaghan Park on Sunday, April 28. Another entry for that event, Ricky Vale trained Namazu had his final steppingstone when easily winning a 900 metres CP barrier trial yesterday (Thursday). Good effort and to my mind Namazu is going better now than when fourth behind Alpine Edge in the 2023 version of the big race.  By the way, that Better Than Ready entire has been retired to stand at Clear Mountain Stud on the Darling Downs where his first season fee will be $7700. He is certain to command an impressive book of mares as many of his extended group of owners are thoroughbred breeders. These include RJC committeeman Bill Ouston and wife Di.

Nick Walsh’s pair of Awol (NZ) and Valtino were also impressive trial winners on Thursday. Clinton Taylor trained I’lltellougo couldn’t have been more impressive with its wining 7.5 length trial romp. Also pleasing to see that Ross Shannon, one of the few remaining very small players still training at Callaghan Park may have a smart one in trial winner Stepupandplay. 

From my quick analysis at least 30 of the yearlings sold at last Sunday’s CYS in Rockhampton will remain in this area to be trained and raced. Good to see a rather fit looking former trainer Clinton Garland active  buying two yearlings a Flying Artie filly for $5000 after a Better Than Ready filly was knocked down to him earlier for $65K. Former RJC chairman Peter Boodle, a brother-in law of Clinton Garlnd paid $40K for Lot 11, a striking filly by Merchant Navy presented  by local trainer Jess Kuhn Racing. Warwick Satherley, that gifted local jockey-trainer of “Cups Hopeful” (my words not Warwick’s) Sir Grace (NZ), added to his small string with an $8K buy of Lot 8, a Flying Artie colt. Pleasing to see former Gladstone Turf Club president Mike Ironmonger of Leroy’s Magic fame back buying a yearling as in Lot 35 an Endless Drama colt. While it wasn’t QTIS registered it was steal at $2500. It was evident that buyers last Sunday were not overly interested in Non-QTIS registered yearlings offered for sale. However, being non-QTIS doesn’t stop the horses from galloping, but the QTIS bonuses are a mighty big help these days. For mine, the best bonus prizemoney system in Australia.

Happy Horses everyone and see you at Callaghan Park races next Thursday. 

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