Chris Ison

Hopes high for January race start

THE Rockhampton Jockey Club and Queensland Racing Limited are hopeful that the new grass course proper at Callaghan Park may be ready for racing early next year on January 8.

Given that the turf is not expected to be laid on the track (which is still under excavation) until the middle of this month at the earliest, that date does seem ambitious, but nevertheless that is the proposal as it stands currently.

QRL’s Paul Brennan, the spokesman for the track’s financiers confirmed this last week and the RJC’s CEO Denis Cox has also dotted in that date, but with a stipulation.

“Naturally if we are not satisfied that the turf is fully ready for racing, then we will put the date back as we don’t want to do any damage by racing too soon if it is not completely ready,” Cox said.

Brennan said the turf had been sourced from Elliot Heads.

“We expect the grass to start arriving in mid-November and it will arrive in mega-rolls to assist with the growing-in period,” Brennan, the QRL’s racing services manager, said.

“Warren Williams (QRL’s track manager) visited Elliot Heads recently and was very impressed with the quality of the grass. He has ordered another round of fertiliser to be spread over the grass prior to its arrival in Rockhampton,” Brennan said.

Also included in the project will be new fibre optic cabling which is now being laid around the Callaghan Park track, which will significantly enhance the quality of race video footage.

As well, Brennan announced that new sectional timing was being installed, enabling split-section race timing from positions at the 200, 400, 600 and 800 metres points.

About 2000 metres of all-new moveable running rail has arrived on site at Callaghan Park, which will be installed once the turf has been laid on the track.

Yesterday, some 94 horses were entered for the first TAB race meeting to be held on the Callaghan Park sand training-racing track next Tuesday, which came about after host track Keppel Park was considered unsuitable because of the threat of kangaroos invading the track.

Come-back sprinter Gobou is the standout nomination among a list of 10 entries for the $12,000 Open Handicap (1100m).

The nomination of 16 youngsters for the $28,000 QTIS 600 Two-Year-Old Handicap (1000m) highlights the widespread acceptance of the rich bonus scheme associated with QTIS.

Rockhampton apprentice jockey Carly-Mae Pye will long remember Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup Day races at Gladstone where at her first ride in more than a year she won on Bill Braden’s Scent Of Gold.

Pye, indentured to Tim Cook at Callaghan Park, has ridden 18 winners in an interrupted career and will be a valuable asset to the jockey-starved Capricornia region.

Mark Barnham took riding honours at his old stamping ground at Gladstone through a double on the Denis Schultz-trained My Beauty and Ross Vagg’s Ruby Frisco.

Experienced Thangool hoop Mick Cullen landed winners at both Gladstone and Rockhampton on Tuesday aboard Berrima Boogie in the morning and then Loose Unit at Callaghan Park.

Steward Luke Collins has reported fining Rockhampton bookmaker Rob Crow $300 for employing Luke Marlow, 16, to work as a bookmaker’s clerk when the teenager was ineligible by age to work in that capacity.

All interested parties are invited to a forum at Callaghan Park racecourse next Monday at 9.30am relating to Hendra Virus hosted by statewide experts.

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