Stakeholders riding high: ‘How good is this for Rocky?’
Words don’t come easy to describe the colossal performances of Rockhampton racing stakeholders and their treasured thoroughbreds at the mega Gold Coast races on Saturday.
In such a case it is said dollars talk all languages and louder than words so let’s let the moola do all the talking to provide a clear perspective.
Of the $1.65 million base prize money on offer, the five Rockhampton-connected horses won $471,850.
It is mind boggling, considering their rivals amassed from leading Queensland and interstate stables.
Spearheaded by the unconquered Kevin Hansen-trained Sweet Dolly’s win in the featured Jewel 2Y0 (1200m), a group of four other Rocky connected horses lined up.
They did us proud there by reminding south-east Queenslanders that Rockhampton is indeed a big player - a huge contributor in one of this state’s biggest industries.
First out on to the track and into the fray was Sweet Dolly’s travelling boy friend, the old war horse Casino Thoughts.
A veteran of 73 previous starts, the old boy punched well above his weight.
Dolly must have whispered something sweet into the old boy’s ear on the trip down from Rocky.
His second behind Racecourse Road in the $75k Open (1000m) as a $31.00 outsider was audacious to say the least.
Exactly two hours later, Sweet Dolly (Justin Stanley, $1.50) defied young Rocky buck Ahooshu ($31.00) to win the Jewel by a half-length and claim the $300,000 victors purse.
In a gruelling fighting finish, both were energy-sapped from the spongy, heavy track conditions underfoot but they gave their all.
In their wake were horses from as far afield as Rockhampton MP Michelle Landry’s second home, Canberra.
When Sweet Dolly and her challenger Ahooshu returned to their enclosure podiums, it was all too much for their trainers Kevin Hansen and Graeme Green.
Spontaneously, they embraced and locked raised hands together and excitedly exclaimed: “How good is this for Rocky?”
That was a poignant moment of pride from so-called rival trainers linking to extoll their unabashed parochialism for Rockhampton.
It was a joy to behold.
Shortly afterwards, Rockhampton-owned Outback Barbie fired up with a close second in the Plate (1200m) behind Jadenton.
Barbie contributed $22,500 to the day’s Rocky collection plate.
What about Rockhampton owned and Tom Button-trained (he still calls Rocky home) Rollinwiththeflow?
The cheeky devil, a last start fourth at Callaghan Park, almost did the unthinkable.
As a $101.00 outsider, he had the hide to beat all but two in the 16-horse $500K 3YO Jewel, finishing third.
His swag of Rockhampton owners were pumped up as Rollinwiththeflow paid $25.00 for the place, not forgetting he earned $45,000 in prize money.
While the week began with local Marway’s Sydney win on Wednesday, it certainly ended on an unforgettable high on the Gold Coast on Saturday.
Chances are the celebrations will be long lived and never forgotten as a highlight of the 152 years of Rockhampton racing history.
I’ll drink to that.