Rocky Amateurs makes history on Sunday April 30.

Published 18 April 2023

Rocky Amateurs makes history on Sunday April 30.

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Every picture tells a tale.

The accompanying photographs certainly attest to that.

The colour picture is from the front page of The Morning Bulletin on Friday, October 6, 2000.

It was part of a huge “wraparound” detailing the Central Queensland Amateur Racing Club’s first two days racing carnival in October that year.

As I wrote at the time “Bitten by the Millennium Bug, the historical Central Queensland Amateur Racing Club ended 65 years of tradition in June by opting for a two-racing extravaganza in October.

The result promoted as 48 hours of racetrack excitement – comes to fruition today and tomorrow at Callaghan Park”.

I thought it timely to bring to life these copies as the same Central Queensland Amateur Racing Club now commonly known as the Rocky Amateurs, makes history again at Callaghan Park on Sunday week, April 30, 2023.

It will not only stage Queensland’s richest regional horse race, the $775,000 The Archer WFA (1300m) but also Rockhampton’s first $1million-plus race meeting.

The photograph on the front page depicts Steve Lines (XXX CQ manager) at the time with a very young trainer Kerrod (Kerry) Smyth in a colourful shirt of which I am envious.

Steve Lines has for many years now been the CEO of the Gold Coast Turf Club while Kerrod Smyth still trains on at Callaghan Park.

Then there is the shot of the field of starters for the $22K Amateurs Bracelet (1200m) of 2000.

What a cracker of a field headed by prolific winners Leroy’s Magic and Bay Poet while collectively (the field) had won $1,504,968 – huge money 23 years ago

Of the 14 jockeys who rode in that Amateurs Bracelet two decades plus three years ago, only John Stephens, Nathan Evans, Chris Whiteley, Jason Barbarovich and Nathan Day are still jockeying now.

There is every likelihood that Gold Coast based Whiteley will be riding at Callaghan Park on the day of The Archer.

“Racing wraparounds” were a regular feature of Rockhampton’s The Morning Bulletin newspaper which was a massive sponsor of racing in the nineties and early 2000’s.

Advertising content which was linked to the theme of the wraparounds, generated revenue thus guaranteeing the substantial editorial copy.

The same motif is still at play in 2023 in “advertorials” in print newspapers and magazines.

As the city’s proud and passionate racing writer (still am), I remember going into the old The Morning Bulletin offices in Quay Street some mornings before 4am to work in the peace and quiet without distraction to formulate the stories.

There were TMB wraparounds or features in the nineties in particular, for the Rockhampton Winter Racing Carnival, Capricornia Yearling Sales, CQ Thoroughbred Breeders, Magic Millions, Melbourne Cup, St Patrick’s Day races and St Peters Day races and probably others I have forgotten.

The editorials required numerous hours of research and interviews before the stories could be composed and compiled and brought to life in print.

What glorious memories put to pen without the assistance of Google but dependant on reams of racing records and racing scrap books.

Rest assured memories galore will be created again on Sunday, April 30 at Rockhampton’s richest race day at Callaghan Park where the first race meeting was held on June 2, 1899.

The course was formally named Callaghan Park on June 1, 1912 in honour of Dr William Callaghan the oldest member of the club (RJC) and one of its most staunch supporters.

What is that they say “from little things big things grow”.

A racing certainty is that the $775,000 The Archer, an infant just short of two years, will scale greater prize money heights thereby reaching more influential status as it matures.


Tony McMahon


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