Rocky locals ‘represent’ over the next few days of racing in the region.

Published 25 April 2024

Rocky locals ‘represent’ over the next few days of racing in the region.

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It’s an old chestnut but why not use it?

“All roads will lead to Callaghan Park racecourse on Sunday!  The Rocky Amateurs The Archer Race Day is expected to be an outstanding success. The Archer field looks quite an open affair given that there are only 10 BM rating points between the first six in race book order. These are Jame Cummings’ Strait Acer (Tyler Schiller) 103; Kris Lees’s Ucalledit (NZ) (Dylan Gibbons) 103; Ricky Vale’s Namazu (Ashley Butler) 99; Graeme Green’s Master Jamie (Les Tilley) 96; Barbara Joseph and Paul and Matt Jones’ Super Helpful (Michael Rodd) 94 and Les Ross’s Mishani Sniper (Noel Callow) (93).  That’s just the start of it and it compounds from there.  In-form GR 1 placegetter Strait Acer will carry 59kg the same weight as the first 10 horses in The Archer with the majority not having anything like his form lines of late. Historically, WFA races are prone to upsets which on the basis of handicapping makes little if any sense. Good luck with your punting in The Archer. For what they are worth I fancy TAB 1 -Strait Acer; TAB 5 – Super Helpful and TAB 10 -Lavish Empire in that order while having a very healthy respect for TAB 11 – Better Get Set. Naturally, being a parochial Rockyite nothing would please me more than to see the locals Namazu, Master Jamie and Princess Tenko figure in the finish.

Top colt, Clinton Taylor’s Astapor looked a million dollars when I saw him over that the trainer’s permanent base in North Rockhampton recently. Now a proud Rockyite and firmly entrenched here, Clinton will be having Astapor back on the road south again soon. “He was to trial at Keppel Park earlier in the week, but rain put a stop to that. Now he will probably trial the week after next. All going well he will be set for the Magic Millions 2YO Classic (1000m) at the Gold Coast on May 24”, Clinton told me on Thursday. That race carries a million dollars in prize money, the same amount connections turned down for Astapor after he won at his second start at Doomben on November 25 last year after winning the Breeders Plate here. Astapor then finished fourth there in the B.J. McLachlan Stakes at Eagle Farm on December 23 behind a rather “handy” horse in Storm Boy. He has furnished into a magnificent individual and can’t wait for Astapor to trial. 

The usual fortnightly migration north to Mackay from Rocky trainers on Friday but understandably in smaller numbers. Rest assured though winners will come from the Rocky fold, Callaghan Park trainers Peter Fleming, Kerrod Smyth, Tom Smith, John Wigginton, Tim Cook, Ricky Vale, Jessica Kuhn, Mark Cochrane, Jared Wehlow, Nick Walsh, Dale Whyte will all fly the flag for Rockhampton with 18 of the 70 starters (as of late Thursday afternoon). Nick Walsh trained three winners from as many starters at Mackay last meeting. The resident Manzelmann training clan will start 22 of the other Mackay runners. John Wigginton’s Electric Brae (R 4-TAB 3) should win and if it starts at Mackay, Nick Walsh’s Queen Assassin (R 8 -TAB 2) is a tip in itself. Walsh has Queen Assassin listed as an emergency in R 7 as TAB 16 at Eagle Farm on Saturday, but it now gets a run. Wigginton plans to start the talented In Evidence there in R 4 as TAB 13 with Vlad Duric to ride. Finally, In Evidence, scratched from Brisbane after drawing the car park last Saturday, has come up with a good gate at barrier 2. 

Notice where Stan Johnston, trainer, breeder, and proprietor of the long running Craiglea Stud at Kenilworth has retired. Rockhampton racing owes Stan an enormous amount of gratitude for his selfless support of racing at Callaghan Park. Only for his dedication and loyalty many a race for two-year-olds would have been scrapped here over the years. His float loads of “Craiglea’s” up and down that Billy Goat track insultingly called the Bruce Highway to Rockhampton, Mackay and Cairns were saviors to early season juvenile races there. Stan and his Craiglea bunch much preceded the Mishani team which has replaced him but in numbers in Brisbane not in the regions.  Space prevents me from writing at length about Stan and Marilyn Johnston, but it is a given they were great people for racing. Their daughter Krystle will now take over the legacy created by their void. Enjoy the well-earned easier life Stan and Marilyn. There wasn’t a charity the couple were not involved with – a pair of wonderful GIVERS. 

That gifted apprentice jockey Olivia Kendall will undergo surgery in Brisbane next Wednesday for her broken collar bone sustained in a Townsville race fall earlier this week. “The same specialist who operated on my earlier fractures will perform the operation. That’s the earliest I could get in. I am sure he will be pleased to see me again,” Olivia said jokingly. She said the only good thing to come out was she will be able to fly from Brisbane to Townsville on Saturday to attend a family party. “Well, I’m not riding so I may as well go up as I haven’t seen some of them for years,” she said. Naturally, after such a state of accidents Olivia (Liv) is downcast about her jockeying future, which she suggested was at the crossroads. “I’ll just have to see how I feel when all this (recovery) is over. I’ve had enough for the moment”, she said. Racing can be a BITCH as the fall occurred when a horse in front of her mount faltered and down Liv came.  I was always a big fan of her riding, and her future was as bright as a shining star. However, Liv’s physical and mental health far outweighs glory and dollars from riding in the most dangerous profession in the world and jockeying is and I’m not trying to come across as an alarmist – just a realist. Undoubtedly, jockeys are the most courageous sports people on the planet.

Happy Horses everyone and to Liv Kendall and a number of other injured jockeys currently convalescing – speedy recoveries.

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