New country challenge series

Racing Queensland launches new Country Cups Challenge


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Phillip Bate analyses news from the Queensland racing scene.

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RACING Queensland (RQ) has announced a new ‘Country Cups Challenge’, complete with a $70,000 metropolitan final on one of the Summer Racing Carnival’s most popular days.

Set for Group 3 George Moore Stakes Day at Doomben on December 1, the Country Cups Challenge will bring together the winners of 16 Country Cups held across Queensland between September and November.

This exciting new challenge complements the inaugural Battle of the Bush Series, which brought 16 sprinters from the country to the city on Sky Racing Tattersall’s Tiara Day held on Saturday, June 23.

RQ General Manager of Racing (Thoroughbred) Simon Stout said the new series was a welcome addition to the new-look and highly successful Queensland Summer Racing Carnival.

“I welcome this new series as it provides RQ with another fabulous opportunity to showcase our regional participants, who are among the country’s most talented and hard-working, to a nationwide audience. While the Battle of the Bush put the spotlight on some of the bush’s most hardened sprinters, the Country Cups Challenge will act as a ‘grand final’ for Queensland’s country cups circuit,” he said.

The new ‘Country Cups Challenge’ complements the Battle of the Bush Series, which brought 16 sprinters from the country to the city on Sky Racing Tattersall’s Tiara Day on June 23. Picture - Tattersall’s Racing Club

The new ‘Country Cups Challenge’ complements the Battle of the Bush Series, which brought 16 sprinters from the country to the city on Sky Racing Tattersall’s Tiara Day on June 23. Picture - Tattersall’s Racing Club

Mr Stout said RQ recognised the significant contribution country racing has made, and continues to make to the wider industry and state economy. “Country racing generates 47 per cent of the $1.2 billion in economic value the Queensland industry generates each year,” he said.

The final will be run under the conditions of a Quality Handicap (1600m) race, with qualifiers required to have competed in no less than three non-TAB races in the 12 months immediately preceding acceptance date for that qualifying race. 

Like the Battle of the Bush Series, float subsidies will be paid to the trainers of horses that remain in the final field after final scratching time.

The qualifying races are:

  • September 22: Longreach, Longreach Cup Open Hcp 1600m
  • September 29: Ewan, Ewan Cup Class 6 Hcp 1600m
  • October 6: Mount Isa, Spring Cup Open Hcp 1450m
  • October 6: Tara, Tara Cup Open Hcp 1400m
  • October 13: Bowen, Bowen Battlers Cup Open Hcp 1470m
  • October 13: Cloncurry, Cloncurry Cup Open Hcp 1400m
  • October 13: Emerald, Emerald 100 Open Hcp 1850m
  • October 20: Blackall, Blackall Cup Open Plate 1400m
  • October 20: Innisfail, Innisfail Cup Open Hcp 2000m
  • October 20: Stanthorpe, Stanthorpe Cup Open Hcp 1400m
  • October 20: Gympie, Gympie Cup Open Hcp 1600m
  • November 3: Yeppoon, Yeppoon Newmarket Open Hcp 1400m
  • November 6: Cairns, Cairns City Cup Open Hcp 1400m
  • November 6: Charleville, Charleville Cup Open Hcp 1620m
  • November 6: Kumbia, Kumbia Cup Open Hcp 1400m
  • November 17: Roma, Roma Cup Open Hcp 1640m
  • December 1:  Brisbane, FINAL, Rest 0MWL2Y Quality Hcp 1600m

Two-horse trainer wins Townsville Cup

IT was the stuff of dreams for two-horse trainer Michael Geaney and jockey Chelsea Jokic when 4YO mare Lady Skills gave the pair their first Townsville Cup win at Cluden Park on Saturday, July 28.

Lady Skills caused a Townsville Cup boilover with a commanding 3.5 length win over last year’s winner Chivadahlii. Fastnet Flyer was third, a further 2.5 lengths away.

It was the second home-town major cup win for country-trained mares in recent weeks following the Rockhampton Cup win by Mamselle Corday prepared by local trainer Tony McMahon.

Racing Queensland webnews reports Geaney, 30, has only been training for six years but has produced consistent performances with a small string of horses in that time.

Lady Skills has been a family affair after Geaney’s mother Debra bought the ex-Victorian mare for $13,000 at an Inglis tried horse auction four months ago. Lady Skills was formerly prepared by Mornington trainer Matt Laurie who told Geaney she was capable of winning a midweek city race in Brisbane.

Stamina needed to win the 2000m Townsville Cup occurs on both sides of her pedigree. Her sire Skilled won the 1600m Group 1 Champagne Stakes at Randwick, her dam Lady Green won four races between 1400m and 2000m while her maternal grandsire Grandera (Ire) won 2000m Group 1 races in England, Ireland and Singapore and also ran third behind Northerly in Australia’s premier weight for age race – the WS Cox Plate. In addition, Grandera’s half-brother George Washington was also an outstanding racehorse whose four Group 1 wins included the classic English Two Thousand Guineas (1600m) at Newmarket.

Since taking her over, Lady Skills has won four of her six starts for Geaney and will now be aimed for more country Cups. “If she can win the Cairns Cup and then the Cairns Amateur Cup she’ll earn a $200,000 bonus for the Northern Crowns series,” Geaney said.

Geaney comes from a harness racing background and works as a refrigeration and air-conditioning mechanic. “It’s every trainer’s dream to win their local Cup and to do it in front of family and friends is a great thrill,” he said.

Meanwhile veteran jockey Peter Cullen landed his first win in the Cleveland Bay Handicap aboard the Roy Chillemi-trained Grey Missile who beat Kievann by 2.75 lengths with a neck to third placegetter and recent Battle of the Bush final winner, Mason’s Chance.

It was Chillemi’s second Cleveland Bay victory after claiming the north Queensland feature with Kanetoshi King in 2009. Chillemi is based at Atherton and has won several Townsville trainers’ premierships.

By dual Listed winner Red Element – brother to champion racemare Typhoon Tracy – from the Lion Hunter mare Days Of Innocence, 3YO gelding Grey Missile was bred at Raheen Stud, Gladfield, and bought by Chillemi for $35,000 at the 2016 Magic Millions 2YO In Training sale at the Gold Coast. He now has eight wins and five placings from 18 starts.

Heroic Valour to stand at Raheen

‘GOOD things come in threes’ for the Nolan family at Raheen Stud, Gladfield.

First off, the stud has a new sire Heroic Valour – the only Group 1 winning 2YO of 22 sire sons of Fastnet Rock standing at stud in Australia this coming breeding season.

Then last Saturday, July 28 – when the last metropolitan meetings across Australia for the 2017-18 racing season were held – current resident young sire Golden Archer scored a 2Y0 quinella with runners from his second crop. They were Archer’s Paradox and Archade running first and second respectively in a 1050m QTIS 2YO handicap at Doomben. By Rock of Gibraltar (Ire) from the Pins mare Viennetta (NZ) Golden Archer was recommended to the Nolan family by Champion Australian trainer, Peter Moody and justified that faith by claiming Queensland  Champion First Season Stallion title for the 2016-17 racing season.

That was the first race at Doomben. Later that day the Nolans had the satisfaction of breeding the winner of Townsville’s premier sprint, the Cleveland Bay Handicap – Grey  Missile.

Heroic Valour has Group 1 credentials galore. A Group 1 winner himself, he’s by the champion Group1 winning sprinter and sire Fastnet Rock and is a half-brother to Group 1 AJC Doncaster winner Triple Honour. Sire of more than 100 black type winners around the  world, Fastnet Rock attracted international plaudits again when his 3YO colt Merchant Navy  won the prestigious Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes (1200m) on the fifth and final day of the Royal Ascot carnival in England.

Sold for NZ$400,000 at the New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale in 2015, Heroic Valour won all three juvenile starts in New Zealand for trainers Stephen Autridge and Jamie Richards, culminating with a win in the Group 1 Sistema Diamond Stakes at Ellerslie in March, 2016. He was then Classic placed in the 2017 Group 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas, while his best finish at four was a runner-up effort in the Group 3 Darley Stallions Plate. He retires with a record of 19 starts for four wins and 10 placings.

“All of us at Raheen Stud are really excited at the prospect of standing Heroic Valour,” said Raheen Stud’s manager Basil Nolan, Jr. “We believe he is very competitively priced at $7700, especially as he is a Group 1-winning, unbeaten 2YO who trained on at three, along with being a well-related son of Fastnet Rock.”

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