On the track with Tony

Patrons at the races.

By Rockhampton Jockey Club Ceo Tony Fenlon

G’day – this is Tony.

It’s been a very busy week for the team at the Rockhampton Jockey Club, with races held on Tuesday, and of course again next Sunday.

With as much as $180,000 up for grabs, the club’s Sunday eight-race TAB program is looking good.

Sunday’s meeting is actually the first of our Christmas race meetings.

We have planned a two-course festive luncheon ($27.50) in the air-conditioned members Lounge from 12.30pm.

The Members, as it is known, is a terrific spot to watch all the action as it overlooks the birdcage area where the jockeys and trainers meet before the hoops are legged-up for their rides.

It gives everyone a really good chance to assess the horses as they parade pre-race.

The Christmas season theme will also be promoted for our two race meetings in December – Saturday the 5th, and Friday the 18th.

Speaking about The Members, some years ago it was remodelled and renovated as a multi-purpose facility.

Once buildings on a racecourse were constructed for use more or less for race days only.

However, like so much in our racing industry, that has all changed.

With the advent of racing being televised into the lounge rooms, pubs and clubs Australia-wide, race clubs had to look for new revenue streams to offset falling attendance figures income.

For instance, The Members at Callaghan Park is the venue for all sorts of social gatherings – including wedding receptions and celebrating the lives of loved ones after their funerals.

The RJC’s functions co-ordinator Kelly Suli and her team are really kept on their toes, putting together parties, send-offs, celebrations and reunions for a long list of special occasions.

“We had two functions last weekend and a number of Christmas parties are coming up over the next month,” Kelly said.

“It is a lovely setting, particularly of an evening with the racecourse under lights.”

She said some limited weekend non-race day dates were still available, as well as race day packages and mid-week non race day dates.

“Some people love to celebrate an occasion with the novelty of a race meeting happening on the day. We take care of everything for you, from decorating to catering as well as drink packages to suit every style and budget,” Kelly concluded.

Who would have thought that when racing commenced at its present location at Callaghan Park on 2 June, 1898, it would become far more than just a racecourse?

By the way, if any reader is interested in acquiring knowledge about the history of Rockhampton racing, we have just the book for you.

Horse racing was born in Rockhampton in 1868, and the RJC commissioned a book with some wonderful pictures and stories celebrating 150 years of racing in 2018.

It is available from the RJC offices for $20 and would make an ideal Christmas gift for not only a racing follower but anyone interested in the history of Rockhampton.

HOW game is Master Jamie? The Graeme Green Callaghan Park four-year-old ran the race of his life at Doomben last Saturday with a fighting third in the Keith Noud Handicap (1200 metres).

In a mad helter-skelter affair, Master Jamie had to be gunned out of the barriers and was always in the firing line up close in the classy field.

For him to keep on fighting and only be beaten a nose for second by Deep Impact was nothing short of outstanding.

Afterall, race winner Jonker, which won by 4.5 lengths, carved out a new Doomben track record of 1 min:7.38 seconds, which amounts to low level flying.

Graeme has done a magnificent job with Master Jamie, winning 10 races as well as recording four placings for $362,475 in stakes.

It seems a formality that any time soon Master Jamie will overtake that memorable grey filly, Paradis Imperial ($379,975), as Rockhampton’s greatest stakes earner for a horse entirely trained from Callaghan Park.

Of course, Rockhampton’s greatest stakes winning horse was Our Boy Malachi, originally-trained at Callaghan Park by John O’Sing before transferring to the Hawkes operation in Sydney.

That great horse won a staggering $946,400.

What a horse was Our Boy Malachi!

HOPE you had something on the grey Fly For Yulong (IRE), which was a tearaway winner at the Mackay TAB races last Saturday.

I mentioned him as a horse to earn some holiday expenses from in last week’s column.

Locally owned by Central Queenslanders Mark and Lydia Withers and his trainer Jared Wehlow, Fly For Yulong is off to Townsville on 28 November for the $50,000 final of the Coral Coast Shield Cup over 1609 metres.

On present form he will do Rockhampton proud up there.

I thought Better Reflection, on face value, disappointed first-up last Saturday at Doomben

I wouldn’t at all be surprised if she doesn’t bob up sometime soon at Callaghan Park and atone.

SEE where former Rockhampton lass and successful jockey Zoe White has had some rides in country and provincial South Australia since moving over there last month.

Zoe was due to ride at Strathalbyn this week but she did a ride a place-getter at Murray Bridge in Ngaire last week.

Another of our locally-based jockeys in Sonja Wiseman was also planning to move to Adelaide later this month.

Sonja had a busy few days last weekend, riding winners at both Emerald (Friday) and Mackay (Saturday).

The club wishes both Zoe and Sonja the best of luck in South Australia.

GOOD to hear that Gracemere trainer Jim O’Shea has retained those two very close stablemates Barachiel and Spring Creek.

Members of the trainer’s family raced the pair on leases, which expired just a week back.

The pair were put up for auction on an online site.

I believe Barachiel fetched $18,000 and Spring Creek $16,000.

Barachiel, another good grey, was runner-up to Ricky Vale trained Absolut Artie (also a grey) in this year’s Rocky Cup.

YET another grey was in the news at Mackay races last Saturday.

Six-year-old mare Annmarie won the Maiden there at her 41st start.

Annmarie did most of her racing around Rocky when trained by Angela Stephens, who trained her to win the bulk of the $48,875 alongside her name.

Annmarie is now trained by Ian Shaw in Mackay, and is raced in new ownership of his family members.