Sand track passes initial test
THE annual Rocky Amateurs two days of racing ended on a high note last Saturday with the modified sand racing-cum-training track passing its first test as a racing venue with 47 horses racing very competitively.
Chief steward Luke Collins summed it up in the best way possible by saying: “It raced very well and I did not hear one complaint about it (track)”.
Punters would have agreed as three favourites and one second-favourite raced home successfully on the five-race card which offered almost $50,000 in prizemoney and trophies.
Premier Mackay trainer Stuart Kendrick combined with jockey Mark Usher to kick the card off on a winning note in the Maiden Plate (1600m) with Prom Knight (($2.80) who scored in the closest finish of the day by a nose from former Moranbah trainer Kistan Price's Orphen Princess (Nathan Patchett. $4.40).
Price has moved to Rockhampton's outskirts and Orphen Princess looks certain to give her a win in the very near future.
Both Patchett and Usher fell foul of stewards over their usage of the whip, but have yet to be penalised.
“Nathan Patchett was taken to hospital for an injury sustained at the barriers later in the day while Mark Usher left the course without the permission of the stewards,” steward Collins explained.
The only surprise about the sensational six-and-a-quarter-lengths win by John Poots's Final Handout (g g 5 Royal Handout(NZ)-Space Shuttle) was the generosity of bookmakers who allowed him to go to the post as a $3.00 chance.
As recorded in the form in The Morning Bulletin on race day, Final Handout had beaten top mare Aspiran in a recent Callaghan Park jump-out.
It was little more than a working gallop for race leader Final Handout under jockey Craig Beets, who allowed him more rein on entering the straight to accelerate away from his 10 rivals and spread-eagle the field.
As his name suggests, Final Handout was from the final crop of the brilliant Prince Echo sprinting entire Royal Handout who stood his final seasons at stud near Monto.
Young Rockhampton trainer Ricky Vale combined with stable patron Jeff Lever and his Koala Dreaming Syndicate to win the Class 1 (1000m) with High Yield mare Golden Sails (Trinity Bannon, $7.00) who beat Royal Debutante (Renee Hinricks, $8.00) and Dashingdesley (Alisha Taylor, $5.00).
It was a tidy effort from Golden Sails as she started from the outside barrier in the 12 horse field.
As expected, Sequalo mare Aunty Flo (Alisha Taylor, $1.30) made a one-act affair of the $13,200 Sunline Sapphire Stakes (1100m) beating the closest of her four rivals Spanish Kiss (Craig Beets, $4.60) by three lengths.
The Allan Clark-trained mare has now won four of her 11 starts returning $41,050 in stakes.
Astute punters reasoned the fact that leading western trainer Todd Austin had brought his sole starter Prince of Danes all the way from Barcaldine was a big tip about the King of Danes gelding's prospects in the Class 3 (900m).
Ridden by Thangool-based Michael Cullen, nippy Prince of Danes ($4.60) won well from All That Cash (Luke Dillon, $6.00) with the Garnett Taylor trained favourite Straight A Student (Alisha Taylor, $3.80) third.
With four winners over the two days of racing, the Rocky Amateurs rewarded Alisha Taylor with the trophy for the leading rider while Bundaberg trainer Bill Melvin took the trainers trophy.
Stewards were busy at both Yeppoon on Friday and Rockhampton (Saturday) suspending jockeys Chris McIver (October 8-15); Renee Hinricks (October 4 - 11) and Luke Dillon (one race meeting after October 10).
As well, Dillon was fined $100 for overweight while Mackay hoop Dale Missen pleaded guilty to excessive use of the whip on Amateur Cup winner Role of Ned with the case to finalised at a later date.
Rocky Amateurs spokesman John Day said the club's Friday races at Yeppoon had set a new standard for UNITAB betting turnover at that venue.
“The turnover was a record at $858,000 down there on Friday with the previous best $744,000”, Day said.
Next weekend in Capricornia, racing features around Emerald with the running of the colossal “100” Open Handicap (1850) with $51,000 in prizemoney on offer.