Townsville committee stoush

Townsville committee casualty

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Terry Butts analyses news from the North Queensland racing scene.

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WITH the Townsville Turf Club AGM looming, there is already a casualty from the committee line-up.

The surprise late scratching is Greg Deveney, a former celebrated policeman of 21 years and colleague of our sadly missed and highly admired George Doolan.

Greg has had what he describes as a “difference of a opinion” with TTC chairman Mal Petrofski and his deputy Ross Donovan.

Greg claims he was simply upholding the dress standard policy of his club when he restricted entrance into the members’ area to a person wearing thongs at a recent race meeting. The same person had apparently been in the company of Donovan during the afternoon at the members’ bar.

Greg was required by Chairman Mal to “show cause” for his action and to write an apology to the thongs-clad visitor.

He politely (or maybe impolitely) refused.

“I refused purely on a matter principle. I was simply upholding the TTC dress policy,” said Greg.

WHILE TownsvilleTC continues to paddle in a sea of debt as revealed in its recent annual report, neighbour Cairns is, according to CEO John Cameron, simply “flying”.

The club’s debt when Cameron took over two years ago was almost $200,000.The AGM later this month will declare a reduction to $90,000 with a projected break-even at the end of this financial year.

The CEO points to several reasons for the turnaround including increased corporate support and sponsorship arising from Cairns’ promotion to a full TAB status.

“We went from five TAB meetings and eight non-TABs a year to 11 TAB and two non TABs as well as the FNQ Amateurs.

“And an exceptional, understanding and hard working committee,” he said.

“We have 100 horses working daily at Cannon Park and on-course stabling that boasts a very high occupancy all year.”

He said there was a waiting list for signage space around the track, but the best indicator is their 100 club which increased to $700 (from $500) two weeks ago and already has 90 signed-up members.

“We expect we will be the same situation as last year – a waiting list!”

And he said the track problems “are a thing of the past”.

“Stewards have told us Cannon Park is the best racing surface in north Queensland,” a statement that might raise a hackle or three.

YOUNG Rockhampton trainer Julieann Lancaster, the partner of successful local jockey Mark Barnham, is building a reputation in the CQ region.

When her handy mare Miss Anna bloused away of good field of sprinters at Mackay last Thursday, it was the trainer’s fifth winner for the season from only 33 starters. And her second win in two days.

She was a virtual unknown in racing 12 months ago and was involved in a serious track accident at Callaghan Park in March 2016 that for many would have been the end of any further participation in a game well known for its danger. Lancaster fell from a horse which then “double barrelled” her in the face causing massive injuries.

Barnham was following her on another horse and saw it all unfold.

The young rider has made a remarkable recovery in a relatively short time.

Most would have walked away, but not Julieann .She has bounced back with a small but handy string and she doesn’t mind the travelling either as her wins are not confined to her home track. She has enjoyed success at Cluden and is a regular these days at Mackay.

She joins Ooralea trainers Olivia Cairns and Trinity Bannon who have both made the graduation to training after successful riding careers. And they are both prominent in the list of successful trainers which was once a profession dominated by males. And they are not alone. Janel Ryan flies the flag in the far north while Denise Ballard has long been the leading lady trainer at Mt Isa.

RISING STAR: Elyce Smith with stable favourite Motorised who is on a Rocky Cup path. Picture: Matt Harris.

RISING STAR: Elyce Smith with stable favourite Motorised who is on a Rocky Cup path. Picture: Matt Harris.

WHILE the lady trainers are re-writing the record books, what about the jockeys!

Who would have thought 10 years ago females would outnumber male jockeys on country tracks? Well it’s happening and the latest to emerge is little Elyce Smith, daughter of the redoubtable Fred, a top Rocky trainer of years standing. Story goes that Elyce (call me Ely) always wanted to be a jock but Mum (herself a former famous equestrienne) would not have a bar of it.

So one night (it was her 18th birthday) Ely slipped a form to her dad and said “Sign this”.

And he dutifully obeyed – as dads do.

But, unknowingly what he had signed was his daughter’s apprenticeship application that she had completed. And that isn’t very long ago either. She was virtually just out of studies. When Just Call Me Louie won at 33/1 last Tuesday it was Ely’s fifth win for Dad from just 13 rides. All up this season she has had 67 mounts for 11 wins and 22 placings. An incredible record for the forever smiling teenager.

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