TEN DAYS ON and they say the champagne is still popping at the Wulguru stables of Bill Kenning and long time partner Julie Bell after the win of their flying filly Flinders Hiway in the Pallarenda Stakes at Cluden last Saturday.
Not just because it was their second win the prestigious race in three years (McCafe won for the hard working duo in 2014) but because “everyone” told them not to buy the filly after she was passed in without a bid at the March Magic Million sales.
One leading bloodstock identity (and friend) actually begged Bill not to touch her.
“She ran a steel spike through her shoulder and has a “cyst on a hock” he said, all in good faith.
Bill was still “negotiating’’ for the filly that failed to attract a solitary bid in the ring - when Julie suddenly turned up and said “Don’t think about it anymore - I have just bought her”.
And that was that. She came home to Townsville and right from the beginning was easily been the star performer of all the babies at the Cluden track.
“She has been as dream - hasn’t put a foot wrong,” said Kenning who has enjoyed considerable success since he retired from the saddle to train full time a few years ago.
But there were more reasons to celebrate on Saturday. In fact 57 good reasons for Julie and her many mates to drain the champagne magnums. For the win just happened to coincide with her birthday.
There was other news too, both good and no so bad from the result. Bill (or Julie) forgot to pay the final QTIS payment in July and that ruled her ineligible for the Pallarenda TIS bonus. They appealed using the valid argument that horses sold at the recent ready-to-run sale were eligible for the QTIS bonuses even if previous owners had not paid up by the July deadline .
Racing Queensland has ruled Flinders Hiway’s connections would not receive the Pallarenda bonus- but on receipt of the final QTIS scheme payment she would be eligible for all future bonuses.
That seems a fair outcome. Expect a refinement of the QTIS rules re bonuses before the next sales.
YOUR scribe has been enjoying the hospitality of the Central Queenslanders over the past couple of weeks and leaves Rockhampton convinced that on course stabling at Townsville is an absolute necessity. In fact it’s a no brainer. There are barely 40 horses in work at Cluden these days. Tie-up stalls at Cluden lay idle every morning. In Rocky every day there is up to 160-over 200 in winter months.There are 150 on course stables with few vacancies.
It is that simple.
Yet some of the decision makers at Cluden are not pushing for an on course stabling facility - with one voice on record declaring “It will never happen”.
Well, if it doesn’t....?
ROCKY flourished under the Bentley regime and has retained its strength as a provincial racing centre. Townsville (as well as other Queensland clubs) didn’t get the same financial favours because they spurned Bentley’s endeavors to “take over” the operation or control of major race clubs.
(It was actually a move designed to help the Labor government to obtain more assets to retain its AAA credit rating that was under threat.)
Bentley poured millions into Callaghan Park including on course stabling and at the next election the libs got back in and handed the asset back to Rockhampton Jockey Club.
“We have been laughing ever since,” said a club spokesman. “Good old Bob, you won’t get a knock for him here,” he quipped.
Meanwhile its history how Bentley, at around the same time he was spending heavily in Rocky,doggedly refused to allow the TTC to sell land for $16 million that is today worth a small fraction of that. Had the sale eventuated Cluden too would be an up to date racing facility - complete with the much needed stabling just like Rocky and Caloundra which fortunately bowed to the wishes and whims of Bentley.
As it is now Townsville relies heavily on visiting horses from MacKay, Cairns and the tablelands.
How long can that last - with the cost of travelling and no rebates?
It will be interesting to see what transpires under a new government. And perhaps a change of guard at Racing Queensland...if the rumour is right.
HOOFNOTE: At Cluden last Saturday there were 59 starters on the six race card - 44 of them were visitors.
AND the latest goss from Cluden is that the race course might be closed and race meetings programmed for February might be rescheduled elsewhere. Bit of a blow for stakeholders who rely on racing for their living. Unless of course the club decides to race on the dirt track for a month.
JEFFREY Felix without doubt one of the hardest working and most obliging jockeys with a license is still fighting in Townsville General’ IC ward after yet another horrific fall on Saturday at Home Hill. Jeffrey (46) has been a prominent jockey in NQ since his apprentice days with Glen Betts that began 20 years ago. He just recently returned to the saddle after a bad fall and Saturday’s incident might well be his last in jockey’s silks. He would be a big loss to trainers who have relied on him for track work if he does retire. Jeffrey not only rode work at Cluden-but would then drive to Charters Towers for another session. And never missed a meeting from Mackay to the Tablelands and out west to Richmond. Great bloke.
Chief steward Paul Gillard wh is leading investigations into the incident said Felix suffered “several broken bones, including nose, collar bone,fractured skull and ruptured spleen”.
Mackay jockey Katina Ho(38) was also dislodged in the same incident but appeared to have escaped injury.