Canterbury Barrier Trials
Canterbury Barrier Trials

‘Like a cannon’: Rocky star breaks track record in Sydney

Marway has set the scene for what could be Rockhampton racing’s most memorable week after he won breaking the track record on the Kensington course at Randwick, Sydney on Wednesday.

Now it is up to Queensland’s super juvenile filly the Rockhampton-trained Sweet Dolly to bring the current unprecedented unabated euphoria to a crescendo by winning the $500K Jewel at the Gold Coast on Saturday.

If betting is any guide with Sweet Dolly the odds-on $1.50 favourite for the rich juvenile race over 1200 metres, Rockhampton racing will have reached new heights should she most likely win.

Marway, under the astute guidance of Callaghan Park trainer John O’Sing was awarded

Rockhampton Horse of the Year for 2019.

Raced by Greg and Elaine Sturgiss and the Wagner family from Springsure, Marway was sent south to Randwick trainer Mark Newnham last year to be given his chance in the “big smoke”.

“He is starting to show his true colours down there,” Greg Sturgiss said shortly after Wednesday’s memorable win, Marway’s second from three Sydney outings.

Ridden by Joshua Parr and backing-up after a gutsy fourth behind Lost and Running the previous Wednesday, it was obvious from barrier rise that Marway was back to his brilliant best.

From an outside gate he jumped straight to the lead in the BM 78 Handicap (1150m) demonstrating explosive speed to lead throughout and win in 1min:05.5 seconds – a record.

“He came out of the barriers like a cannon and I knew on the home turn no one was going to pass him,” Josh Parr commented after the win.

The tempo Marway established prompted race caller Darren Flindell to sprook – “It’s Marway or the highway” while later saying “the Rockhampton horse is making a name for himself in Sydney”.

To win in record time under 57.5kg speaks volumes for Marway’s talent and vindicates his owners’ decision to test him against stronger Sydney grade.

Marway landed some sizeable bets after much as double figures were bet about him in early

markets before he firmed to $3.80 by post time.

“We have always had faith in him and it is just so exciting to see him do it,” Greg Sturgiss said.

While future plans are uncertain for Marway, don’t be surprised if he is given a chance to step-up a grade in the $160K Star Kingdom GR 3 Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 27.

At this stage that is speculation, but one thing isn’t Marway is just another outstanding prospect to have gone through the ring at Rockhampton’s Capricornia Yearling Sales.

Bred by the Sturgiss family through the mating of their Spectrum stallion Hemingway (IRE) and home mare, the Marechal matron Maredamah, Marway is all Rockhampton bred.

Fate had it that breeders Greg and Elaine passed-in the bay colt (Lot 71) Marway at that 2017 CYS when the last bid of $14K was just shy of his reserve.

It prompted Greg Sturgiss to say to this writer at the time – “we are not going to sell him for that price”.

In hindsight Greg was proven ever so correct as to date Marway has won 10 races and $264,495 in stakes and provided thrills aplenty for his owners – feelings that money cannot buy.

Meanwhile, trainer Kevin Hansen spoke in glowing terms about his pride and joy Sweet Dolly after she had settled in to her Gold Coast stable accommodation on Wednesday afternoon.

“She travelled beautifully again and has settled in well in her new stable environment. It was a good trip down with no real delays from roadworks. Left Rocky at 3am and got down to the Gold Coast stables at 11am,” Hansen said.

Sweet Dolly has drawn barrier seven in Saturday’s Jewel an alley that Hansen has no complaints with.

“It is very hot down here (Gold Coast) but if we don’t get a bad storm or the likes I’m thinking Saturday’s track should be good,” Hansen said.

With more than 50 years’ experience around racehorses, Hansen is too savvy to declare Sweet Dolly “over the line” but all things being equal he expects her to win.

“I have no doubt she will get the 1200 metres of the Jewel. While all her wins have been around 1000 metres, she relaxes so well the extra trip should suit her perfectly,” he said.

For certain at 3.28pm all the eyes of the racing world particularly those fine-tuned at Rockhampton’s big St Patricks Day races will be fixed on television monitors riding along with Sweet Dolly.

For owner the Capricorn Coast’s Michelle Walker and husband “Stumpy” it well should be a case of “Irish eyes are smiling”.

Go you good thing!

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