Handicapper has the last say

Handicapper has the last say

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Terry Butts analyses news from the North Queensland racing scene.

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IN the end it was the Racing Queensland handicapper Nathan Bourke who had the final say whether Newmarket top weight and certain favourite Too Good To Refuse would make the trip to Rockhampton on Thursday.

Trainer Desleigh Foster was succinct in her reply to our question on Sunday whether her four-year-old would start?

“If he gets 59kg I will go. If he gets 60kg I won’t – that simple”.

Well he got 60.5. So Desleigh and her horse will likely stay at home.

With a benchmark of 96 and winner of $370,000 it was perhaps an ambitious call to expect less than 60kg. Last year Pill of Creation, a 94 rater, was allotted 60kg but didn’t start either.The previous year Daph and Alf carried 60.5 and before him Our Boy Malachi lumped 60.

Second top weight this year is veteran Steel Zip while most of the other runners will be on the minimum (54kg).

Amazingly, 18 of the 24 horses nominated are Brisbane based. The meeting is dominated by visitors in spite of its clash with Tattersall’s Tiara Race Day at Doomben.

Top trainer Tony Gollan has booked 10 boxes at Callaghan Park, Robert Heathcote will have eight runners and other city trainers with multiple runners include Liam Birchley, Ben Currie, Chris Anderson, Kelly Schweida, Laurie Mayfield-Smith and Stuart Kendrick.

Obviously they are attracted by the offer of a Mitsubishi Mirage for top trainer of the two-day carnival and the response has been well outside expectations.

And it is not just the visiting horses. The club has snared Victorian caller Rick McIntosh who will call three races on Thursday and Ciaron Maher who will be guest speaker at the Calcutta on Friday.

Jockeys on Thursday include the dominant South African duo Jeff Lloyd and Robbie Fradd as well as regular Jim Byrne.

Another VIP will be the former idol and Newmarket winner Our Boy Malachi who has made the trip from his spelling farm at Yabulu outside Townsville to lead the parade onto the track for the Newmarket.

The old fellow, who won almost $1 million in stakes, bled at his last start in Melbourne and was immediately retired with the sterling record of 19-2-1 from just 27 starts – most of them on the Callaghan Park circuit – but the best of them of course at Randwick.

RQ handicapper Nathan Bourke had the final say whether Newmarket top weight and certain favourite Too Good To Refuse would make the trip to Rockhampton on Thursday.

RQ handicapper Nathan Bourke had the final say whether Newmarket top weight and certain favourite Too Good To Refuse would make the trip to Rockhampton on Thursday.

THE PROBLEMS with Townsville’s relatively new Evergreen race track cannot be compared to the situation at Eagle Farm, but nevertheless Cluden is undergoing close scrutiny which has resulted in changes to programming over the next couple of months.

It is worth noting that while both Eagle Farm and Cluden tracks were constructed under the Evergreen banner, the warranty on Eagle Farm was for only three months. Townsville had 18 months warranty, but only because the previous TTC committee insisted on that time frame and refused to budge when requested by RQ to reduce it as a cost saving measure.

The Cluden track was inspected by experts last week and a decision has been made by RQ to suspend all gallops on the course immediately and cancel scheduled meetings for six weeks after the Townsville Cup on July 29.

It is not ideal for local trainers preparing horses for the Townsville carnival, which gets under way at the end of this month, and the club has made overtures to RQ to allow gallops on the extreme outside of the course proper.

An initial request was turned down – obviously by someone who has no idea of the need to gallop horses on grass, particularly at this critical time of year.

However, there is still hope among some trainers that   common sense might yet prevail and that horses engaged in races can work wide out. They would be on turf that is barely (if ever) galloped on.

There should be no argument, however, on the decision to give the track a rest after the carnival that will see Cluden racing on five days in four weeks. Not all dates are lost, however. Mackay will be the beneficiary picking up August 17, 29 and September 5 dates.

The Townsville Amateurs were to be staged on Saturday August 29 and a new date will be allocated soon – hopefully a Saturday for a meeting that was once hailed as the best in North Queensland.

Townsville Amateurs once raced on WS Cox Plate day but for some inexplicable reason switched to a date wedged between the Townsville Cup and Cairns Amateurs. And the Amateur Cup was once over 1600m.

Here is an ideal chance to revert back to what was a very successful formula of date and distance.

YOU really can’t wait for the merger of the Totes. It seems Ubet have just about given up. Last week a well known Townsville punter telephoned the head office to inform that he intended to withdraw $8000 from his account the next day. No problem until he went to get it. He was told “Sorry, we can only give you $4000.”

He approached the TAB manager and was told: “That’s the rule.”

The punter has since changed bookie. As you would.

Then at Mackay on Thursday a trainer tried to have $200 on his horse in the Lighning.

He approached the Ubet tote window on-course and was told he could have $166 on it – that’s all.

So he just walked away, shaking his head.

And they (Ubet) encourage licencees to bet with them – to be loyal to the industry. And have the audacity to get on radio and skite about how much they bet to lose.

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