Veteran hoop doubles youthfulness

VETERAN Rockhampton jockey Geoffrey Booth, 55, is old enough to be teenage apprentice jockey Chris McIver's grandfather.

But that didn't stop the pair sharing a common bond at Rockhampton's TAB race meeting yesterday.

Booth has been race riding for nigh on 40 years while rookie McIver gained his permit only months ago.

But it mattered little as they rode winning doubles on the nine-race card.

McIver, went run-searching on Fleet The Bongo ($6) in the First Maiden (1100m) and much to the delight of trainer Jeff Marlow found what he was looking for when a split came 150 metres from the finish.

Fleet The Bongo went on to win by a short-half head from One Alone who should soon atone.

In delivering Quartpot ($11) the winner of the XXXX Open Handicap (1300m), McIver displayed fine judgment and vigour to grab a long head win over Our Secret Agent.

Substituting for the irregular visiting apprentice Ben Hull, the first winner came for Booth on John Wigginton's former professional maidener Flip Hose ($4) in the Second Maiden Handicap (1100m).

Later, Booth took advantage of a gap which opened in the straight to bring home punters' nemesis Closed Out ($23.

50) for an exciting half-neck win over weight-burdened Joe Dirt in the Class 3 (1200m).

Senior Rockhampton trainer Max Hansen and owner Rod Hill are entitled to give Booth with a present for his 56th birthday in September.

That is because Booth has now won three races on Closed Out this winter, previously at odds of $41 and $61 ? little wonder he is Geoffrey's "horse of the year''.

Former North Queenslander Hansen will celebrate his 71st birthday next month and he said he has been training "officially'' since he was 17.

By virtue of the twinkle in his eye and his conversation, Hansen indicated he previously may have used a "dummy training'' arrangement (train under another's licence) for quite some time previously.

"I was training before then but got pulled up one day and told to take out a licence officially.

"I thought I had to be 21 but they said: 'Get one','' Hansen said.

In a sensation, stewards invoked a rarely used rule when they banned Sir Alister from starting in the Class 1 (1200m), ordering his withdrawal 40 minutes before starting time.

The official race book listed Sir Alister as being Rockhampton trained by Gracemere's Jim O'Shea for owner, R.J. "Bob'' Sutton who has applied for a Queensland Racing licence to train.

Tight-lipped stewards would say only that an investigation relating to Sir Alister was pending.

Tony Pattillo had to stand down after sustaining a shoulder injury while riding Dynamic Dancing in the Class 6 (1100m).

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