SOAKING IT UP: The Adrian Coome-ridden Schrapnel Gully poses for the 3000-strong crowd at Keppel Park race course after winning the GJ Gardner Yeppoon Newmarket Cup on Saturday afternoon.
SOAKING IT UP: The Adrian Coome-ridden Schrapnel Gully poses for the 3000-strong crowd at Keppel Park race course after winning the GJ Gardner Yeppoon Newmarket Cup on Saturday afternoon. Sharyn Oneill Roksyrace

3000 flock to Yeppoon leaves turf club president gob-smacked

GOB-SMACKED was the term Yeppoon Turf Club (YTC) president Greg Simpson used to describe Saturday's huge turnout at Keppel Park racecourse.

Clear blue skies and idyllic spring weather conditions were enjoyed by more than by 3000 racegoers.

Simpson, his committee and volunteer workers expected the crowd to be big but not to that extent.

"I'm gob-smacked. I would go as far as to say this is the biggest crowd I have ever seen in my 25 or so years at Yeppoon. It's amazing ," Simpson said.

Equally as impressed and if anything surprised by what he saw was Racing Queensland Limited chairman Kevin Dixon a surprise visitor at Keppel Park.

Dixon said: "What a good track and the crowd is excellent. They (the committee) have told me what happens here and they do a very good job."

YTC vice-president Gary Hall struck a pertinent point that Keppel Park's next meeting isn't until next May.

"It's too long a break. Ideally we would like to have another date granted for a race meeting somewhere to break that long absence," Hall said.

Dixon was first into the enclosure to congratulate wheelchair-bound trainer Darryl Johnston after his bonny grey mare Isa Tala (Adrian Coome, $2.50) won the Class B (1000m).

It was former top jockey Johnston's second winner from four starters since relocating back to Callaghan Park racecourse in recent months.

"I've only got three (horses) in work but they are starting to fire now," Johnston said.

Talk about firing, that's exactly what leading jockey Adrian Coome is doing.

Coome completed a winning treble through wins on Matthew Tremble's Gymnastique ($2.00 - 3YO Hcp, 900m) and Tim Cook's Schrapnel Gully ($2.00 - Newmarket, 1300m).

It was a point Lawrie Clarke and family members who own Schrapnel Gully acknowledged.

"You might lose a few points in the betting when Adrian is up on your horse but he certainly makes a difference," Clarke senior said.

It is generally accepted that racing is a "numbers game" especially when aligned to trainers having big teams of horses which equate to more wins.

That certainly wasn't born out in Saturday's opening race, when Mackay mentor John Manzelmann, despite saddling-up five of the six runners still couldn't provide the winner.

The race, the QTIS 3YO Handicap (900m) was easily taken out by the Bill Reid Racing owned Gymnastique by an ever lengthening margin which ended-up being 4.75 lengths.

Rockhampton concreter Rowan Eyles was on hand to witness his first winner when the Alan Jones-trained Copy This (Kelly Gates, $7.00) scored an all-the-way win in the Maiden Handicap (1100m).

Patient rider, the Kiwi horseman Shane McGovern provided bookmakers with a windfall when The Pantz ($8.00) dropped on his rivals late to win the Class 3 (1400m).

Tom Button-trained race favourite Nobody's Boy ($1.80), going for three wins on the trot, was an abject failure.

Racing next Saturday goes to Moranbah.



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