Long-serving jockey makes race riding return at Rocky
Rockhampton racing’s longest-serving current resident jockey John Stephens makes his return to race riding at Callaghan Park on Saturday after an absence of eight months.
Stephens, who has been associated and enjoyed major success with some highly talented horses during his career including Eye Liner Stakes winner Leroy’s Magic, has been off the scene since last June.
Ironically, in Saturday’s Open Handicap (1050m) at the Rockhampton Jockey Club’s Callaghan Park TAB races, he combines with one of the district’s most talented young sprinters in Lepreezy.
The pair has combined to win five races together, with four being over the short course 1050m distance of Saturday’s race.
Lepreezy is yet another successful Central Queensland acquisition from the Magic Millions March Gold Coast Yearling Sale of her youth, having the grand record of seven wins and four placings from 14 starts.
Purchased by Central Queensland’s Mary McKenzie for $30K at the 2018 sale, Lepreezy has been a bountiful earner with stakes totalling $200,400.
She came from the first draft of the hugely successful Better Than Ready which, incidentally, has a record draft of 80 yearlings at the MM Gold Coast Yearling Sale on March 15 and 16.
It seems fitting that Lepreezy and Stephens make their racing comebacks together as both “spelled” when finishing uncharacteristically down the track in heavy conditions at Doomben on June 20 last year.
To carry the minimum of just 54kg, Lepreezy (Race 2 – TAB 3) seems certain to give a bold account of herself in the small field of five.
Sunshine Coast trainer Tom Button has thrown punters out a strong tip while at the same time slightly bewildering them with his acceptances of Rollinwiththeflow and Miss Lot Won in the same race.
Both stablemates were scratchings from Saturday’s corresponding Sunshine Coast meeting after drawing unsuitably.
They will clash in the QTIS Jewel Qualifier 3YO Plate (1100m) – the fifth race on the Rocky card - with Rollinwiththeflow (TAB 1 – Chris Whiteley) and Miss Lot Won (TAB 5 – Adam Sewell).
There is much at stake as a win is essential, thereby automatically qualifying for the $500K Jewel Final (1200m) at the Gold Coast in a fortnight.
Gaining a start in that feature race dangles many carrots as while first prize is $300K, purses down to fifth range from $90K to $12.5K, with $6000 paid out through to 10th finishing position.
Callaghan Park trainers Chris Attard (Kefalonia); John Wigginton (Para Park) and Nick Walsh (Aleysa’s Dream and Princess Rules) are also desperately trying to force their hand into the rich final.
Not forgetting of course, the astute Sunshine Coast mentor Stuart Kendrick who is represented by the quaintly named Sip It Slow, a daughter of A Fine Drop Of Red.
Arguably the best betting race on the RJC program is the last of the six races - the $15K BM 60 (1600m) in which the Ricky Vale-trained Carlin Trend (TAB 1 – Asley Butler) is chasing four consecutive wins.
Carlin Trend ranks as the biggest horse in training at Callaghan Park so the 59.5kg should prove no deterrent to his prospects of continuing his winning streak.
All eyes will be on the Sunshine Coast races where Callaghan Park trainer Kevin Hansen has the brilliant Sweet Dolly (Race 3 – TAB 2) in the $125K 2YO Jewel Fillies Qualifier (1000m).
On Friday afternoon the trainer reported all was well with Sweet Dolly, in that she travelled beautifully to the Sunshine Coast and had settled in comfortably.
Hansen said it was an ideal drying day at Caloundra and he expected, without further rain, the track currently rated a Heavy 8 would improve and he believed Sweet Dolly would handle the track conditions.
The funeral of veteran Taroom trainer Bill Cogill, who won a CQARC Amateur Cup in the early ’90s with the grey marvel Flap Jack, will be held at his beloved home town racecourse on Monday.