Rockhampton Jockey Club CEO Tony Fenlon at Callaghan Park. Picture: File.
Rockhampton Jockey Club CEO Tony Fenlon at Callaghan Park. Picture: File.

Callaghan Park hive of activity, on and off the track

HORSE RACING: Despite the downturn in the economy and it’s on flowing effects, the Rockhampton Jockey Club is experiencing record numbers of horses in both race fields and training ranks at Callaghan Park racecourse.

Next Tuesday’s advertised nine-race TAB card at Callaghan Park has expanded to 10 races following the entry of no fewer than 143 horses and an amazing 126 acceptors to race.

The $19K Class 3 Plate (1100m) has the biggest numbers with 24 entries with 15 of those from trainers that use Callaghan Park training facilities as their base.

To put this list into perspective, other horses nominated come from Barcaldine, Townsville, Roma, Emerald, Yeppoon, Bundaberg and Bluff.

Currently with the rail out five metres on the Callaghan Park grass track course proper, only 10 horses can start from the 1100m starting point.

Rockhampton’s biggest trainer on horse numbers Adrian Coome has four horses in the Class 3 while all up he has 19 nominated for Tuesday.

Racing Queensland at acceptance time yesterday split the race into two divisions which elated RJC CEO Tony Fenlon.

“I am very happy and appreciative that RQ split the race. It is quite staggering the number of horses racing at our meetings but more so the volume of horses training each morning at Callaghan Park racecourse,” he said.

He then rattled off statistics which vindicate his point.

“In recent weeks we are averaging anything from between 165 to 190 horses working and training on the track at Callaghan Park. That figure of course does not include those that use the swimming pool or walking machines.

“Go back 18 months and the numbers were nothing like that. For memory the average each morning working out of here (Callaghan Park) would have been around 130.”

On some mornings at Callaghan Park, which opens for training just after 3am under lights and remains in action until 8am, trainers are experiencing some difficulty in finding a vacant tie-up or saddle-up stalls.

Co-operation is the key and the positivity of seeing such a high volume of horses there each morning outweighs any slight inconvenience.

Most trainers believe that the Rockhampton Jockey Club is going all out to assist them especially facilitating gallops on the grass training tracks.

In years gone by this vital form of occasional training was difficult to arrange with the club but under CEO Fenlon, who has held the reins since August 2016, the relationship between trainers and the RJC has thrived.

Veteran galloper, the Jaime McConachy-trained Friendly Dragon at the ripe old age of nine years is topweight for Tuesday’s Open (1200m) with 62.5kg.

The two interesting entries for this race are Mark Lehmann’s Bat A Kat (58.5kg) and Adrian Coome’s looming Rockhampton Newmarket contender Fomo (NZ) (59kg).

Bat A Kat will be ridden by Ashley Butler and Fomo’s ride goes to Gold Coast jockey Scott Galloway.

While Callaghan Park racecourse has been alive with horses of late so too has it with tradesmen.

Those racegoers who soon avail themselves of the facilities in both The Members and the older upstairs grandstand lounge will be in for a rude but pleasant awakening when numbers return to the track.

Refurbishments in both areas have taken place during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Both areas have been made more “upmarket” and appealing to the eye, while even the public grandstand viewing area seating has been repainted.

Racing commences at Callaghan Park on Tuesday at 11.10am.

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