Whitby ‘slots in’ for the $775K Archer

Published 2 January 2023

Whitby ‘slots in’ for the $775K Archer

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Off the track the race is hotting up for the $775K The Archer (1300m) with prolific racehorse owner, the now Gold Coast based Max Whitby “slotting in” Weona Smartone (NZ).

This was jointly announced today (Monday) by Rocky Amateurs chairman Bill Reid and Whitby, who under slot holder Whitby Bloodstock becomes the first to have declared a runner in 2023 The Archer.

The second edition of The WFA The Archer (1300m), Queensland’s richest regional race will be staged at Rockhampton’s Callaghan Park racecourse on Sunday, April 30, this year.

Whitby said he was delighted to have “done a deal ‘’ with David Vandyke, the Sunshine Coast trainer and part owner of Weona Smartone, a winner of nine of his 13 starts.

“He’s happy (Van Dyke) and I’m happy to have done the deal from over the last six weeks. I’m very pleased”, Max Whitby enthused.

The Archer is run along similar lines to Sydney’s $15M The Everest, where here 11 slot holders pay $50K and the 12th is auctioned (made $100K recently).

Slot holders’ identity a suitable horse, reach a deal with its owners relating to acquisition to represent them solely in The Archer and a contract is agreed to regarding prize money splits.

“Weona Smartone impressed my form man down here after we looked at four or five horses for The Archer. You have to go early so I did the deal with David Van Dyke. It wasn’t hard to do – it was very easy really especially as doing a deal is, when you know 99% of the players. David and I will work well together. I think David was chuffed really”, Whitby said.

Max Whitby said he learned from his experience in the inaugural The Archer last year when represented by sixth placed Chris Waller Sydney trained Kubrick, that the race “oozes Queenslanders”.

Last years $440,000 The Archer was taken out by Robert Heathcote trained Emerald Kingdom from fellow Brisbane trainer Desleigh Forsyth’s Apache Chase.

The Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott Sydneysider Dawn Passage did best of the six interstate horses by finishing third.

No doubt those stats were in Whitby’s mind when he went after the Queenslander in Weona Smartone which has five Doomben wins on his CV.

Weona Smartone was spelled after a splendid fourth (2.09l) in the $2.95M Nature Strip Stakes (1300m) to Private Eye at Rosehill on October 29.

“I believe he has prepped-up just fine. He will either go a barrier trial, barrier trial (CORRECT) and then straight into The Archer or maybe a barrier trial, a race and then The Archer. That hasn’t been decided yet”, Whitby said.

Formerly Sydney based, Whitby has as many as 80 racehorses on his books throughout Australia while he also has over 20 breeding stock thoroughbreds as well as stallion shares.

He was one of 11 original slot holders in The Archer who invested $35K each for the 2022 concept before all agreed to commit to $50K towards funding of the race over the next two years.

By doing so The Archer’s initial purse was lifted to $775K making it Queensland’s richest regional race and focussing national and overseas attention on Rockhampton.

‘’The stand-alone Sunday meeting at Callaghan Park on April 30 this year promises to be spectacular at every level. It will bring stakeholders from throughout Australia. It will not only be big for racing here but also for the regional economy”, Bill Reid said while Max Whitby agreed.


Tony McMahon.

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