THE CARNIVAL might well be over but for popular Cairns trainer Alwyn (Bones) Bailey the party has just begun.
Bones, as he is so popularly known, hails from Mt Isa where he learnt his horse skills with the likes of Stumpy Bachelor and Ray Turgeon – legends of the west.
And after battling away in the Far North for nigh on 40 years, mowing lawns to supplement the upkeep of his family and his horses, Bones won man of the match at the Cairns Amateurs – hands down.
He won a double on Friday, should have won two more minor races on Saturday, but collected the major prize when Ranked – a $750,000 reject from Lloyd Williams empire – won the Cairns Amateur Cup.
It was a popular home town win, and Bones’ biggest win ever.
“My biggest thrill.”
Ranked, brought to Melbourne by Williams from the UK with Green Moon for the Melbourne Cup five years ago, had been a major disappointment to many. But not to Bones Bailey.
“There were excuses – mainly bad barrier draws – for most of his runs since coming here,” said the trainer. There was a change of tactics on Saturday too. He was ridden a little closer and kept off the rails under explicit instructions from the trainer.
The owner, Gold Coast based Mario Agius, was in US on business but watched the race on Sky at 3.30am
“He was properly pleased,” said Bones. “We all were.”
The win as not unexpected either, with bookies reporting strong, solid support.
Winning jockey Wanderson d’Avila also had a great carnival – five over the two days – and intends returning to the north after a stint in south east Queensland.
He was leading NQRA jockey for a couple of seasons when attached to the Roy Chillemi-Hedley yard and is certain to be in demand again when he returns permanently.
Cup day went off with a bang – literally – just after the first race when a transformer blew up. It caused some anxious moments before power was restored.
Racing recommenced nearly two hours later after some frantic work by club and QRIC officials who have been roundly complimented for their efforts to get the show back on.
Power was out just long enough to take the chill out of the fizz, but the party raged on regardless.
And no doubt still is, in the Bailey household.
“It’s a big thrill to win this race,” he said on Sunday.
Ranked, an Irish import, originally raced in England as Rougement before being bought by Williams as a potential Melbourne Cup hope.
“But things went wrong and he had to have a couple of years off,” Bones said.
“He’s a nine-year-old so I’ve got to consider that, but he still could head back to Brisbane now.”
And you get the feeling Bones won’t be very far behind.
QRIC hasn’t had a lot of luck when cases go to QCAT on appeal and the same might be true this week when jockey Mathew McGillivray appeals his Cluden-imposed sentence.
McGillivray, you might remember, was suspended a hefty 10 days by stewards for restraining his mount in a 2000 metre race at Cluden two months ago. He appealed the sentence, lost, and then surprisingly handed an extra day by QRIC – an action that has prompted much discussion among seasoned racing people.
Surely that extra day will be thrown out – at least – because it transpires the jockey was never told or warned that it was an option for QRIC to increase penalty on appeal.
THE much respected and sadly departed Alan Cooper, rated the best chief steward ever in the north, once told this writer that stable searches by stewards is a complete waste of time, money and resources and he simply refused to conduct them.
His rationale was that a trainer must abide by the rules. If a horse is taken to a racecourse and it returns a positive swab the trainer is then dealt with. That simple.
It didn’t make sense then to Alan Cooper and it doesn’t make sense now.
Seems QRIC, however, is hell-bent on continuing its blitz on stable vigilance all over the state.
It is petty, costly and quite frankly unnecessary if you take the view of Alan Cooper who in his reign had the respect of every licensee the north.
There are plenty of current stewards who agree with him too, by the way.
QRIC’s record of achievement overall is hardly what the commissioner would like us to believe.
QRIC seemingly operates with a police culture. Racing doesn’t want a policeman.
The industry requires a highly qualified steward in charge. And purely for the sake of restoring confidence to this industry, the sooner this happens the better.
And as for Racing Queensland. Have you googled Archie Butterfly lately? The silence is deafening.