John Wigginton quits racing career
A DESPONDENT five-time premier Rockhampton trainer, John Wigginton, has shocked Central Queensland racing circles by quitting racing and disbanding his team of horses because of what he described as frustration with the protracted problems through the revamping of the Callaghan Park racing tracks.
Wigginton’s team in training at the Rockhampton Jockey Club (RJC) owned stable barn at Callaghan park racecourse has dwindled in recent years from 23 at the height of his career to just six when he dropped his bombshell last week.
“The straw that broke the camel’s back came last Monday week when the races were called off a day before on the so called new all-weather sand training-racing track when it had only received minimal rain at the time of abandonment.
"Frustration – that was it – I’d had enough. The place (Callaghan Park) is going nowhere. Too many promises about things that are going to happen are not getting done. It is just becoming too hard training with owners getting upset about what has been happening for months now,” Wigginton said.
It has been a traumatic time for Rockhampton trainers since June when Queensland racing Limited (QRL) designed and funded reconstruction works costing $6.5 million-plus, began on both sand and grass tracks at Callaghan Park.
Subsequently, race meetings were transferred, prizemoney cut in the process, training schedules revamped, with four months limited use of full facilities and then a failed sand track for racing which embarrassingly had to be completely overhauled after being deemed by authorities suitable.
Wigginton explained these problems led to his frustration which have been “chipping away at him” over the last few months.
“It just keeps going on. Firstly the new grass track was to open in early last December and then it was put back to January 8 and now January 29. That was it when they called the meeting off last week on a so-called all-weather sand track. I sold the two horses I currently raced, got out of the stables and sold off my racing gear straight away. I’ve had enough – I’m totally finished with racing,” Wigginton declared.
A mechanic by trade and former fuel station proprietor, Wigginton quickly rose to prominence as a trainer after taking out a licence just over a decade ago.
His reputation rocketed spectacularly through his astute acquisition of former Victorian tried horses of the calibre of Nessuno, Skymaker, Altissimo rose, She’s decent, War drum, Man Of illusion, Evil Snip and Uphold.
Feature race wins included an Eyeliner Stakes at Ipswich and a Townsville Cleveland Bay with Nessuno; Rockhampton Cup (Skymaker); Newmarket (She’s Decent) as well as a Tatt’s Cup and sprint with War Drum and Altissimo Rose.