Rocky racing loses great mate in Wayne Twigg
TO SAY the late Wayne "Twiggy" Twigg loved his horse racing would be an understatement.
Like so many, he lived and breathed "the great game" with a passion.
Never was Twiggy's passion more evident than on two of the occasions I was fortunate enough to interview him.
The first was in March, 2015, on the night Twiggy's business won the exclusive naming rights to sponsor his home town Cup - the Rockhampton Cup of that year.
For those unfamiliar with the process, each year members of the Rockhampton Jockey Club's 100 Club (for corporate sponsors) go into a major draw for the honour.
Twiggy was a man who put so much into racing - not just as a thoroughbred breeder, owner and punter, but as a corporate supporter with his business Advanced Exhausts contributing to the 100 Club since its inception in 2006.
On that night of winning the Rocky Cup naming rights, Twiggy told me this during an interview.
"Mate, it was very huge to win it - it was always very scary because I'm not a real good person with a mic," Twiggy said.
When asked if he had always wanted to win the honour, Twiggy replied: "Would love the naming rights because I had a horse run second in the Rocky Cup here a few years ago and now hopefully I can get her son to be in the Rocky Cup, is the plan.
"He's trained by Lawrie Mayfield-Smith, he's a son of Milady Clang and his name is The Thomas Affair.
"He's by Dylan Thomas, he's won his last three (races) over a mile and he needs to win a couple more races to qualify to get into the Cup."
The Thomas Affair did not make it into the 2015 Cup won by Victory Hotel, but prior Twiggy explained where his love of horse racing had started.
"It all started in Rocky," he said.
"I was in a syndicate with a few guys, then I bought a horse called Mr Ballistic and we syndicated him with three of me mates... he was a very good horse, he won 10 or 12 races for us.
"From there we bought other horses and went on from there."
In more recent times, Mr Attitude was to become a favourite galloper for Twiggy.
In September last year, the star Rocky horse gave the owner-breeder the ride of a lifetime, culminating in winning a prized industry accolade.
Twiggy was still on "cloud nine" when I spoke to him, days after the six-year-old gelding that he and his wife Carol bred, claimed the Provincial Horse of the Year title at the Queensland Thoroughbred Awards in Brisbane.
"For him (Mr Attitude) to go up and win the Cleveland Bay (Townsville feature race), the Mackay Newmarket, then go to Cairns and run a brave third (chasing the $100,000 Northern Crowns bonus) and now this award, it's the biggest ride we've been on in racing," Twiggy said at the time.
"A lot of the owners went down for the awards (Sunday night), we had a big night and we all suffered a bit yesterday (Monday)."
Mr Attitude was by Irish stallion Duke Of Marmalade from the talented mare which Twiggy raced, Milady Clang, who herself was a six-time Brisbane metropolitan winner.
"Milady Clang was probably the best horse I've ever had but this bloke (Mr Attitude) is going to get up there and probably overtake her without a problem," Twiggy said.
Twiggy syndicated Mr Attitude among mates who shared in the ownership - Liam Goody, Gavin Kime, Mark Mitchell, Greg Diplock, Brett Green and Barry Gregson.
Mr Attitude was originally trained in the south by Lawrie Mayfield-Smith before being transferred to Neville Petersen and then to Rockhampton trainer Ricky Vale in late 2018.
Under Vale, the galloper gained a new lease on his racing life, winning nine races from 16 starts prior to the award honour, and banked $178,400 in prize money in the process.