Trainer Ricky Vale, jockey Ashley Butler with daughter Tahnae, Absolut Artie and Kale Sinclair. Photo: Tony McMahon.
Trainer Ricky Vale, jockey Ashley Butler with daughter Tahnae, Absolut Artie and Kale Sinclair. Photo: Tony McMahon.

Winner shows courage with a capital ‘C’

While both the champion from the early ’70s, Gunsynd, and current star Rockhampton horse Absolut Artie are incomparable on an achievement level, they both share a common thread - courage with a capital ‘C’.

Gunsynd (gr g 1967 Sunset Hue -Woodie Wonder) was an elite thoroughbred, winning 29 races, many at GR 1 level, and is an Australian Hall of Fame racehorse inductee.

In 1973, the year he retired, the song The Goondiwindi Grey was released about him and sung by Tex Morton.

Among its lines were the words: “If there were cups for courage you could trot him up for one” which resonated in my mind when Absolut Artie won at Rockhampton’s Callaghan Park races on Tuesday.

Lumping 62.5kg or 9 stone 12 pounds in the imperial system, Absolut Artie - by no means big in stature - displayed great courage with another bold, front-running win.

Rated perfectly in the lead by his regular riding companion Ashley Butler, Ricky Vale-trained Absolut Artie (gr g 2015 Artie Schiller (USA)-Naseej) dug deep for 0.75 lengths win.

Chasing him home was race favourite Macho Tycoon (Elly Smith, $3.80), which is trained by Butler’s sister-in-law Zoe Hohn.

Absolut Artie was having his second start back from a break and during his last preparation he won three Rockhampton races consecutively, including the $100K Rockhampton Cup (1600m) on July 17.

On those occasions he was ridden by Ryan Wiggins, deputising for Butler because of weight restrictions, while Tuesday’s win was the latter’s sixth on the grey.

In fact, Butler has an imposing partnership with Artie, pairing for six wins, a second and three thirds from their 10-race association.

One of those thirds was at Eagle Farm over 1400m at the end of his 2020 campaign on August 15.

It seems that’s where Absolut Artie, which will be hard to place locally now, is heading for his next outing.

“I’ve been looking for a suitable open handicap race for him in Brisbane but there is nothing suitable at the moment,” Vale said.

“Hopefully before too long that’s where we will head with him when one (race) comes up.”

Vale took over the training of Absolut Artie from Victorian trainer Archie Alexander during the 2019 winter and subsequently only once from 18 starts has the grey finished further back than fourth.

Less than an hour after Artie’s defiant win, Vale was back in the winners’ stall celebrating the strong finishing win of Ornate (Elly Smith, $3.40 fav.) in the BM 58 (1300m).

It was Ornate’s second win in four starts for his new stable since being acquired from Grafton.

The win was the middle pin of a winning treble for Elly.

Earlier she won for her father, the trainer Fred Smith, on Ron and Val Beak’s Magic Millions Sales acquired Better Than Ready debutant filly Kashkar ($3.50) in the $30.5K QTIS 2YO Maiden (1100m).

Later during the eight-race TAB program, Elly brought up back-to-back wins on the Alan Jones-trained Belzu ($6.50) in the BM 70 (1100m).

Belzu has rewarded Jones for his astute tinkering of its racing gear with two much-improved winning performances at Callaghan Park.

Bobby El-Issa rose to the occasion, winning on Lady Lowburn ($1.85 fav.) in the $30.5k QTIS 3YO Maiden (1200m) for his long-time friend, the Rocky trainer Jamie McConachy.

Third placed by less than a length Scoria Star (Nathan Day, $5.50) looked all over a winner until boring outwards over the final stages, thereby robbing his chances.

Day had the choice of riding Lady Lowburn or Scoria Star, having partnered them the week before.

“If he (Scoria Star) goes straight, he wins by lengths. I could have ridden the winner,” a dejected Day said.

In the other corner, McConachy said: “I couldn’t get a rider for her (Lady Lowburn). I rang Bobby and he said he would come up from Brisbane to ride her. Glad he did,” he said.

Resident Callaghan Park trainer Jim Lewis won the Maiden (1600m) with last to first Navarre (Adam Sewel, $1.55).

Much will be written and extolled in the future about the afternoon’s most impressive winner, Clinton Taylor’s Bustedup (Justin Stanley, $1.24 fav).

Bustedup scored an effortless 6.75-length win in the BM 0-55 Handicap (1100m) under 59kg in a time fractionally outside former open class galloper Legal Procedure’s 2016 track record time.



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