The best Yeppoon Cup field on show this Saturday at Keppel Park.

Published 31 October 2023

The best Yeppoon Cup field on show this Saturday at Keppel Park.

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Horse racing which commenced on the Capricorn Coast under the auspices of the Yeppoon Amateur Racing Club on Wednesday, September 23, 1981, has always been popular even then at what was known as Tyrer Park.

Some years later during that decade it became the Yeppoon Turf Club and the same located racecourse, albeit turf and not the original sandy loam was name changed to Keppel Park a move designed to shall we say, “place it on the map”.

David Aldred, the CEO of the Rockhampton Jockey Club holds the distinction of broadcasting the inaugural race meeting there in 1981 in what was a much cruder setting carved out of and surrounded by bushland.

“Yes, I was a young bloke back then and it was just a bush track. I can remember walking the track with the stewards before the meetings and removing brown snakes off it”, David told me today. TUESDAY

This Saturday, 41 years and a month on, Keppel Park will host what is shaping as an assembly of the best Yeppoon Cup field of horses that have lined-upon the turf track there set now in an idyllic setting. 

The Yeppoon Cup is part of the Queensland wide Country Cups Challenge Qualifiers Series where winners progress by automatically qualifying for a $200K Final at Doomben in December.

With the stakes so high no wonder 16 horses from country and regional Queensland have been entered for the YTC event which is the 13th race of the 16-qualifying series with only heats at Home Hill and Charleville remaining.

With stringent qualifying conditions for the Brisbane final, one of which is that series winners must have raced on country tracks at least five times, it will be a “do or die affair” – speaking literally of course!  

Like all the other series heats, any horse is eligible to take part as is the case at Keppel Park on Saturday but if the winner does not meet the criteria, it will not progress to the rich Brisbane Final.

Yeppoon Turf Club’s secretary Mary Hornery detailed that the Yeppoon Cup, a Country Cups Challenge Qualifier has good form lines for the progression to Brisbane in December.

“Last year’s Yeppoon Cup winner Echo Point trained by Raymond Williams won the Country Cups Final in Brisbane. Then the Cup winner at Keppel Park in 2019 in San Vincenzo (trainer Ricky Vale) finished second in the Brisbane final that year so the big race here on Saturday could be a very reliable guide. On facts and figures the 2023 race on Saturday looks stronger”, Mary said.

Good call Mary so I did my dissection of the 16 entries which include horses trained from Toowoomba, Dalby, Roma, Emerald, Thangool, Mackay as well as seven from Callaghan Park, Rockhampton.

There not all “bushies” mind you considering the eldest stateman of the field Tim Cook’s Yankee bred 10-Y-O Wren’s Way (USA) was runner up in a GR 1 race at Longchamp, France back in April 2018.

Five of the old boy’s rivals, Craig Smiths’ Art By Concorde, Tom Smith’s Bayerische, Glenda Bell’s Most Impressive, Trevor Williams’ Starhattan and Kerrod Smyth’s Tricky Beans weren’t even born then. 

Wren’s Way (USA) with winnings of $501,179 and John Manzelmann’s Savvy Legend ($330,202) are the biggest career money earners of the 16 horses entered which have accrued $2,836,314 in stakes.

They have tallied 111 wins between them and are a very experienced lot having made 597 race appearances.

There are nine Cup winning racehorses among the entries.

They have won the big trophy races at a diversity of centres including Cairns, Gordonvale, Mackay, Bowen, Longreach, Emerald, Mitchell, Clermont, Thangool and Nanango. 

Sorry almost forgot Pat Webster’s Toowoomba trained Palate which won the Mungindi Cup (1400m) just four starts back. 

Where is Mungindi?

It is a town, a livestock and crops centre with a population of abt 650 just inside the NSW border with Queensland and some 790km from Yeppoon. 

Naturally, Mungindi has a racecourse – of course. 

That’s more than enough stats to decipher, so see you at Keppel Park on Saturday.

Happy Horses – Tony McMahon. 

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