Published 4 January 2023

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Trainers, just expanding on an earlier message Australian Trainers Association members would have received today from Queensland’s ATA chief executive Cameron Partington.

This pertains to the parlous situation whereby two races on the RJC TAB program for next Tuesday, January 10 being in grave doubt.

These are the $20K Class 6 Plate (1050m) (3 entries) and the $38K QTIS 2YO Handicap (1100m) just with one entry.

Naturally, entries for both those races have been extended until 10am Thursday, January 5.

As RJC program convenor along with RQ’s Col Truscott, I feel obliged to make commentary regarding this occurrence.

The QTIS 2YO Handicap was programmed after concerns were raised by trainers last season that there were insufficient open 2YO Handicaps programmed in Rockhampton for early season 2YO winners. They argued and on reasonable grounds, that with insufficient races programmed their 2YO winners would have to be spelled. The race next Tuesday was programmed with this in mind.

Similarly, over a duration of time requests were made from trainers and in some cases owners (personally made to me) that there were insufficient races scheduled for their higher-grade class horses (i.e., 3-4-5-6 Cl).

My reasoning to request the scheduling of a Class 6 Plate (Set Weights) was twofold.

  • A straight-out Class 6 race was restrictive and gave the impression it only catered for that class of horse.
  • By programming Class 6 Plates it allows for class 1-3, 4, 5 and 6 on a sliding weight scale. It provides a wider range of classes as well as the Cl 6 horses.

A few points here from my own experiences re programming, handicapping and training going back 52 years.

I believe trainers can be “put off” by the actual name of a programmed race such as an Open 2YO Handicap as in Tuesday’s case.

All 2-Y-Os are eligible to be nominated and race in that class. It only becomes an Open 2YO if a winner or winners are among the entries. Therefore, it can be quite viable and profitable to have this in mind and take that option when making nominations to consider the race in this regard. Afterall, there is $38,000 in available prizemoney listed for Tuesday’s QTIS race. Interestingly, the only nomination so far is a 2YO Maidener. It would be a tragedy to see this race shelved and that prizemoney lost because trainers did not nominate simply because it was titled a 2YO Handicap (open) instead of a 2YO Maiden. It raises the question how many entries would have been made if it had been the case of a 2YO Maiden?

Entries for 2YO races throughout Queensland, including the metropolitan area, in the main have been acutely short this season. However, that is not known when these programs were committed to months ahead as is required.

I need not remind you all that if the QTIS 2YO Handicap on Tuesday is abandoned it certainly weakens the case of committing to programming that class at the same time next year.

Please be assured I am not being critical or disrespectful in any way with my comments but more so enlightening. I have worn the hats of a programmer and trainer and am acutely aware of the intricacies of both regarding race planning.

For your interest there are approximately 150 options in relation to classes and distances of races to be programmed for any given Callaghan Park race meeting whereby only seven or eight races can be scheduled.

Programming horse races lends itself to the saying attributed to Abraham Lincoln – “You can please some of the people some of time, but never all of the people all of the time”.

Horse “pools” vary irrationally and are very fluid and subject to change on a daily basis. The race that pleases some trainers wont please others.

In closing, I urge you if at all possible if you see an option of supporting the QTIS 2YO Handicap (1100m) and Class 6 Plate (1050m) in Rockhampton next Tuesday please do so.

Tony McMahon (Central Queensland ATA delegate and RJC representative program convenor).


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