Balboa rocks elite field

Balboa rocks elite at Sunshine Coast


Phillip Bate analyses news from the Queensland racing scene.


THE names Balboa Rocks and Rocky Balboa are almost mirror images and when it comes to long-price outsiders it’s a photo-finish between them.

There is a historical precedent. Both are named after a 16th Century long-priced outsider – Spanish explorer, governor, and conquistador Vasco Núñez de Balboa who some 500 years ago crossed the Isthmus of Panama in Central America in 1513 to become the first European to lead an expedition to reach the Pacific Ocean from the New World. 

Balboa Rocks is a 5YO racehorse and became the third longest priced winner in a feature race in Queensland in the past six years at $91 with victory in the final feature race of the Queensland summer carnival – the $125,000 Listed Sunshine Coast Cup (1400m) – on Saturday, January 26.

And give yourself an uppercut if you didn’t know that Rocky Balboa is the title character of the Rocky film series featuring a professional boxer who keeps overcoming major obstacles. The character was created by Sylvester Stallone, who portrayed him in all eight Rocky films – the first winning three Academy Awards including Best Film.

Former Mackay-based trainer Darryl Hansen has trained the winners of a Magic Millions 2YO Classic and several Group races but he admits the shock knockout win of Balboa Rocks over his more-fancied equine rivals gave him one of his greatest moments. Hansen's best win was the 2015 Magic Millions 2YO Classic with Le Chef but he has been a consistent visitor to the winner's circle in the past decade since moving from Mackay to Caloundra.

Jockey Michael Cahill rides Balboa Rocks to victory in the Coastline BMW Sunshine Coast Cup on Saturday. Picture - AAP Images/Grant Peters

Jockey Michael Cahill rides Balboa Rocks to victory in the Coastline BMW Sunshine Coast Cup on Saturday. Picture - AAP Images/Grant Peters

However – loyal to his north Queensland roots – Hansen regularly undertakes a northern  country Cups crusade. Last season was lucrative with Balboa Rocks winning both the Mackay Cup (after surviving a protest) and the Rockhampton Tattersalls Gold Cup. Hansen also won the Mackay Cup with Stage Shaker in 2008 and was always confident Balboa Rocks could give him another country Cups feature following his third to Mamselle Corday in the Rockhampton Cup (1600m) seven days earlier.

In winning the Listed Sunshine Coast Cup, Balboa Rocks becomes the 11th stakes winner for Wattle Brae Stud’s veteran Group 1 winning sprinter Easy Rocking. Balboa Rocks is from the winning Clang mare Alpha Girl which makes him a full brother to last season’s QTIS Horse of the year  Pennino – also bred, raced and trained by the same connections.  The outstanding filly – who recorded three wins and two placings as a 2YO – has now started three times as a 3YO filly to record a fourth in the Listed Mode Stakes, third in the Listed Gold Edition Plate and second in the Group 3 Vo Rogue Plate – all at Doomben last month.

Winx and Cracksman named World’s Best Racehorses

Connections of Winx are all smiles after the Australian mare was named Longines Joint World’s Best Horse for 2018 at a function in London, UK on Wednesday, January 23.

Connections of Winx are all smiles after the Australian mare was named Longines Joint World’s Best Horse for 2018 at a function in London, UK on Wednesday, January 23.

AUSTRALIA’S super mare Winx has been crowned the world's best racehorse – alongside English champion Cracksman – at the Longines International Federation of Horse Racing Association awards announced in London last Wednesday.

The pair each held an official handicap rating of 130 – emulating the feat of Australia’s unbeaten champion sprinter Black Caviar who jointly held the title with French filly Treve in 2013. Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Accelerate was third on 128 ahead of Hong Kong galloper Beauty Generation, USA dirt champion Gun Runner and another English-based horse Roaring Lion – all on 127. The brilliant two-time Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Enable was ranked equal eighth on 125. Remarkably, Cracksman, Roaring Lion and Enable are all trained by English-based John Gosden.

Winx (Street Cry/Vegas Showgirl) has been in the Top 10 of the Rankings since 2015 and has been the highest rated filly/mare plus best horse on turf since 2016. Winx won seven Group 1s in 2018, including a record fourth Cox Plate.

As co-winner, Cracksman impressed as well, with his trademark victory coming in the Champion Stakes at Ascot. The son of Frankel (world’s best horse 2011 and 2012) races in the same connections as Golden Horn – the 2015 highest rated turf horse in the world. Cracksman’s jockey in 2018 was Frankie Dettori, who was named Longines World’s Best Jockey in 2018 as well as in 2015.

The next ranked Australian horses after Winx were Happy Clapper and Trapeze Artist (both  123) followed by sprinters Redzel and Santa Anna Lane (both 122).

Winx’s trainer Chris Waller, in attendance for the function, paid tribute to his world champion mare, saying that, while there may have been horses capable of finishing in front of her at any given time during her current three-year run of 29 undefeated runs, no horse would have consistently beaten her. A $230,000 Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale graduate, Winx is due to start what will hopefully be a fairy-tale finish to her career when she resumes, as expected, in the Apollo Stakes on February 16 in Sydney.

Queensland Group 1 races among world’s best

LONGINES reports Winx’s peak run occurred in her Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes drubbing at Royal Randwick with the Sydney race rated the second best race in the world behind France’s weight-for-age showpiece, the Group 1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. The Cox Plate at Moonee Valley was ranked seventh best race.

Queensland’s racing industry is also at the elite level as three of the highest-rated races in the world in 2018 were held in Brisbane. The Doomben 10,000 was the highest ranked race at No.26, the Kingsford Smith Cup ranked 52 and the Doomben Cup 91.

Australia had more races in the top 100 than any other country with 31 – up from 22 last year – however Australia’s richest handicap the Melbourne Cup failed to make the list. Handicaps that did make the cut were the Epsom, Newmarket, Doncaster, Caulfield Cup and Toorak.

Increases for Queensland Winter Racing Carnival

PRIZE money increases of $1.7 million and a return to the historic Eagle Farm Racecourse headline a number of exciting changes to the 2019 TAB Queensland Winter Racing Carnival, Racing Queensland and the Brisbane Racing Club (BRC) have announced.

Horses will race for $18.4 million across the carnival, which counts the likes of The Autumn Sun, Santa Ana Lane, Redzel, Youngstar, Lean Mean Machine and Dark Dream as recent graduates to enjoy further success in the spring or overseas.  

Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell said the increases aimed to attract more emerging stars to Queensland across the winter period. “It is hoped this will enhance the carnival’s reputation as a nursery for Australasia’s emerging 2YO and 3YO stars,” he said. 

Two-Year-Old horses will now race for $2 million across the program with the BRC Sires’ increased to $400,000 and the Champagne Stakes to $200,000.

Queensland’s Group 1 sprinting ‘Triple Crown’ – the Doomben 10,000, Kingsford-Smith Cup and Stradbroke Handicap - will now offer prize money of $3 million across the board to attract some of Australia’s top sprinters.

“Prize money for the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 will be increased to $800,000 to reflect its status as one of Australia’s top-10 races on ratings,” Mr Parnell said.  

It’s hoped the increases will help attract the country’s top-line sprinters back to Brisbane, as witnessed with Santa Ana Lane (Stradbroke), English (Doomben 10,000) and Impending (Kingsford Smith Cup) in 2018.

Middle-distance and staying types will have plenty of incentives to head north with more than $2 million up for grabs across the Hollindale Stakes ($500,000), Doomben Cup ($700,000) O’Shea Stakes ($400,000) and Brisbane Cup ($400,000). The $1.5 million TAB Stradbroke Handicap also returns to its traditional home at Eagle Farm for the first time since 2016. 

BRC Chairman Neville Bell said it would be a momentous occasion for the club and Queensland racing participants. “This is a landmark carnival because Eagle Farm is back in action for the Channel 7 Brisbane Racing Carnival, which is something that excites the industry across the country.

“The Winter Racing Carnival is the true nursery of Australian feature racing with so many of the nation’s greatest racehorses showcasing the benefits of racing here. We’ve had Black Caviar and Winx in recent years and now the likes of The Autumn Sun looms amongst the next wave of stars,” Mr Bell said.

While Eagle Farm has returned to the racing calendar, the 2019 Winter Carnival will not revert to the traditional calendar as the track is taken carefully through its first year back. Accordingly, this will mean that the 2019 Treasury Queensland Oaks will be held at Doomben Racecourse.

“Racing Queensland and the BRC continue to implement a staged return to racing at Eagle Farm in line with the Dale Monteith report,” Mr Parnell said.

To see the full 2019 TAB Queensland Winter Racing Carnival schedule visit the Racing Queensland website: 

As previously announced, prize money for all Group 3 races will be a minimum $140,000 and Listed races at $125,000.

2019 TAB Queensland Winter Racing Carnival – Key prize money increases:

  • A.D.Hollindale Stakes (Group 2) – from $358,000 to $500,000;
  • Doomben 10,000 (Group 1) – from $700,000 to $800,000;
  • Champagne Classic (Group 2) – from $175,000 to $200,000;
  • Doomben Cup (Group 1) – from $650,000 to $700,000;
  • Bill Carter Stakes (Listed) – from $100,000 to $200,000;
  • RC Sires’ Produce (Group 2) – from $250,000 to $400,000;
  • P. J. O’Shea Stakes (Group 2) – from $200,000 to $400,000;
  • Brisbane Cup (Group 2) – from $300,000 to $400,000.

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