Raymond Williams and Hannah Richardson in the winners circle at Emerald.
Raymond Williams and Hannah Richardson in the winners circle at Emerald.

CQ highly recognised in QLD Country Racing awards

A top day of racing was staged as a pipe opener for the Queensland country racing awards night on Saturday, February 6 at Pioneer Park.

Local trainer Raymond Williams had a day he won’t forget in a hurry when he combined with Hannah Richardson to take out the Rich $30,000 maiden handicap, leading all the way with a wing on every hoof over the quick and the dead 1000 metre trip.

Williams and his partner Tracey Leake have mastered the art of taking problem horses, usually as hand me downs and give aways and getting the best out of the galloper.

Jinabelle, only having her third race start, set the turf alight to take out the 1000 metre race on the program with plenty in reserve.

Richardson rated the lightly raced mare perfectly in the saddle in a dominant display where more wins look highly probable.

The feature race on the program, the weight for age On the Bit 1100 metre sprint, was taken out by man of the moment Raymond Williams with Awanechee landing a strong betting move being backed from $7.00 -$3.00 in a strong performance.

Ridden again by Hannah Richardson, the duo made it a winning race to race double and one they won’t forget in hurry.

Awanechee is raced by Emerald track curator Micky Calvert who has put a lot of time into the galloper, getting the gelding back to peak fitness.

The win will be one Mick will saviour after many years in the racing caper.

The Queen of Pioneer Park Glenda Bell saved the best for last, taking out the benchmark 50 over 1200 metres, with Flash Hombre $6 with apprentice Krysten Swaffer in the saddle in a determined effort for the Hogans stable capping off a top day of racing at Pioneer Park.

After an early finish the racing headed to the Emerald Town Hall where 12 awards were given out with a big crowd on hand.

One of the hall of fame awards presented on the night was the outstanding contribution to country racing which was awarded to 4TAB radio weekly racing show Bush Beat.

Rob Luck has been a mainstay of the show for more than 17 years and created the weekly show which has been a staple of country racing for many in the industry.

Rob, a veteran of more than eight years at the Longreach Jockey Club, said to be part of the team to receive the award was a great thrill and hoped to continue Bush Beat for many years to come.

Brooke Richardson from Barcaldine was awarded Ride of the Year; Moranbah trainer Billy Johnston was awarded Trainer of the Year, Ilfracombe galloper Zukaz trained by Boy Forster was awarded – Sprint Horse of the Year and Winton galloper Bollente was named Distant Horse of the Year.

Big winners on the night:

Hall of fame – Participant – Noel Bronsan

Hall of fame – Jockey – Tony Lane

Hall of fame – Horse – Mick’s Luck

Hall of fame – Trainer – Robert Snelling

Club person/volunteer of the year – Kirty Mitchell

Country racing newcomer – Ty Wheeler

Jockey of the year – Dan Ballard

Sprinting horse of the year – Zukaz

Outstanding contribution to country racing – Bush Beat

Apprentice of the year – Daniel McGillivray

Trainer of the year – Bevan Johnson

Distance horse of the year – Bollente

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The pending central western racing season will feature a new incentive to attract jockeys to either relocate to the region or make a weekly commute with the introduction of a Central Western racing jockeys premiership.

Longreach Jockey Club president Andrew Watts, along with his wingman Rob Luck, discussed how they could attract more jockeys to the Central West circuit to alleviate the ongoing shortage of jockeys.

After brainstorming they are planning to implement a jockey’s premiership starting at Blackall on February 27.

Watts hopes to build the pool to $5000 and split the winnings to $3000 for first, $1400 for second and $600 for third.

Watts said the support from the race clubs in the region had been excellent.

Toni Austin from Barcaldine Race Club strongly supported the initiative along with Paul Banks from Blackall.

Several other clubs have strongly supported it also.

Watts hopes to sell a $2000 naming rights sponsorship that will feature each week.

That money will be used for a horse of the year and the premier trainer prize.

Watts said he would love to spread the love evenly between the three but the shortage of jockeys was the achillies heel of racing in Western Queensland and it must be addressed as soon as possible.

In other racing news, the Longreach Jockey Club has voted to spend $30,000 on upgrading the training track which requires a major overhaul.

Racing kicks off in Longreach on March 20 and the upgrade will cause no disruptions to the upcoming race meetings.



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