COUNTRY hero Fab's Cowboy has become the 'first cab off the rank' for a second year in a row by winning the 2019 TAB Battle Of The Bush Gladstone Qualifier Open Sprint Plate (1194m) on Saturday.
The now 7YO gelding trained by Miles-based Bevan Johnson was sent out as a $1.30 shot in his first attempt at qualifying at Cunnamulla 12 months ago, with connections hoping it would be a repeat qualifying performance at Gladstone.
One year, six wins and a near-miss in the Country Cup Final later, 'The Cowboy' is in arguably career best form with his last four starts producing wins at Barcaldine, Roma, Goondiwindi and Gladstone. The previous time he visited Gladstone in March last year he won by 12-lengths in a record breaking time of 1:10.61 under set-weights conditions.
This time it was by four lengths with veteran race caller and journalist Tony McMahon labelling Fab's Cowboy as the "best weight special in Australia on Saturday". Previewing the race in the Gladstone Observer, McMahon wrote: "Under the set-weight Plate conditions, Fab's Cowboy was handicapped on 60.5kg which was what could only be called a light weight for him. When you further take into account that apprentice Minonette Kennedy will take off an extra 4kg through her weight claiming allowance, Fab's Cowboy is the best weighted horse racing anywhere in Australia today."
Post-race, McMahon commented: "I've been calling races for 49 years now and along with Director's Special's Rocky Cup win some two decades ago this was the easiest feature open race win I have ever called."
Dual accolades occurred earlier this year at the inaugural On the Bit Country Racing Hall of Fame awards held in Emerald when Fab's Cowboy was named Outstanding Country Horse of the Year and Bevan Johnson was named Outstanding Country Trainer of the Year.
Owned and bred by the Currin family, Fab's Cowboy is by Greenwood Lake (USA) - a Group 1 winning half-brother to fellow Group 1 winner and successful sire Success Express - from the winning Supremo (USA) mare Real Live Woman and now has 29 wins and 12 placings from 62 starts. He was broken-in by Longreach grazier Paul Currin who races the horse with his cousin Elizabeth Currin and was the last horse bred by Elizabeth's father and former Julia Creek trainer Fabian Currin before he passed away. "Fabian always said he would turn into a good horse and that's how he got his name, Fab's Cowboy," Bevan Johnson said.
Away from the racing world, Paul Currin has also achieved literary fame as the author of popular children's book Do You Believe in Dragons? published in November 2015.
Moody backs up for Battle of the Bush
LEGENDARY trainer Peter Moody will be back in Queensland this year to help promote the second TAB Battle of the Bush Series, which began at Gladstone last Saturday.
The trainer of Australia's greatest sprinter, Black Caviar, grew up in Charleville and spent much of his adolescence travelling to country racetracks across Queensland. He knows just how important the Battle of the Bush Series is to Queensland participants.
"Everybody you speak to wants to win the Battle of the Bush. It's fair to say this series exceeded all expectations during its inaugural year and I can't wait to see who'll take out the prize in 2019," Moody said.
Moody will be on-course at his 'old stomping ground' at Charleville to meet and greet locals on May 18. He will also stop at Warwick on May 11 and at Nanango on May 25.
Moody has been a staunch advocate for Queensland country racing. He enjoys a day on a country track just as much (if not more) than a Group 1 meeting at Eagle Farm, Randwick or Flemington.
"Country racing is an integral part of Queensland life. It contributes so much to local communities both socially and economically. Nothing beats the thrill of a country race meeting," he said.
The 2019 TAB Battle of the Bush Series received a major prize money increase that will see horses race for Listed level stakes of $125,000. Racing Queensland also announced there will be a $30,000 bonus should the winner be a QTIS registered horse.
Ben Currie to continue training after QCAT stay
QUEENSLAND Racing Integrity Commission head Ross Barnett has moved to counter growing discontent within the industry at delays in dealing with the charges against Toowoomba trainer Ben Currie.
Two major racing operators - Queensland-based Aquis Farm and leading interstate trainer David Hayes - have already announced they will stop racing horses in Queensland immediately amid concerns over the integrity of the sport in the state.
The latest delay, which occurred last Thursday, April 18, concerns a February 18, 2019 Stewards decision to refuse to accept nominations of horses trained by Currie Racing.
Aware of the impact of the investigation on Queensland's racing community, Mr Barnett issued a statement after the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) on Thursday, April 18 agreed to extend a stay order proceedings - opposed by QRIC - which allows Currie to keep training for the time being.
"The Commission operates within the appeals system of internal review and QCAT as set out in the Racing Integrity Act. While multiple charges have been laid against Mr Currie and have been vigorously pursued by the Commission, Mr Currie has exercised a range of legal rights that have delayed the finalisation of those matters.
"The investigation of trainer Mr Currie has been ongoing since April 7, 2018 and has already resulted in disciplinary action, including heavy suspensions and disqualifications of up to 18 months handed out to employees of Currie Racing for race day treatment offenses.
"The investigation has involved the seizure and analysis of CCTV footage, computer and telephone records, and has led to multiple charges against Mr Currie that relate to race day treatment, providing false evidence, obstructing Stewards investigations and animal cruelty offenses.
Mr Currie is also facing five charges relating to the presentation of horses that have returned positive swabs for a range of banned substances. A Stewards inquiry into two new charges started last week.
"The hearing of other charges pending will continue throughout the coming weeks and we will continue to pursue and resolve these as soon as possible. We remind the racing community that QRIC and racing in Queensland must operate within the disciplinary frameworks set out by the Rules of Racing and the Racing Integrity Act," Mr Barnett said.
MM weanling sale attracts record entries
A RECORD sized catalogue of 725 lots has prompted Magic Millions to expand its National Weanling Sale to three days at the Gold Coast from May 22 to 24.
Weanlings by a record 119 individual sires will feature a first class line up of domestic and international Group 1 winners including no fewer than 22 first season stallions.
"We are delighted to release the first catalogue of the National Sale Series. The sale has produced countless pinhook success stories who have gone on to star at the Yearling Sales and ultimately the track. Pierro, Zoustar, Peggy Jean, Redzel, Volpe Veloce, Whispering Brook and Seasons Bloom are examples of the quality racehorses who have emerged first at the National Weanling Sale," Magic Millions managing director Barry Bowditch said.
To view the online catalogue for the 2019 Magic Millions National Weanling Sale visit http://www.magicmillions.com.au. The catalogue is also available for download via the Equineline iPad app. Hard copies will be distributed early May.
NATIONAL SALE SCHEDULE
Wednesday May 22 - National Weanling Sale
Thursday May 23 - National Weanling Sale
Friday May 24 - National Weanling Sale
Tuesday May 28 - National Broodmare Sale
Wednesday May 29 - National Broodmare Sale
Thursday May 30 - National Broodmare Sale
Friday May 31 - National Broodmare Sale
Wednesday June 5 - National Yearling Sale
Thursday June 6 - National Yearling Sale
Friday June 7 - National Yearling Sale
Friday June 7 - National Racehorse Sale
World class National Broodmare catalogue online
MAGIC Millions has released its online catalogue for one of the world's leading breeding stock sales - the 2019 Gold Coast National Broodmare sale.
Comprising 1071 lots, the auction will present a spectacular line up of breeding prospects - from star race fillies and top young breeding prospects to proven Group 1 producers.
The National Broodmare Sale will be held from May 28 to 31 with the first day comprising race fillies and maiden mares followed by a select offering of four lots in the Stallion Prospects section.
"We are incredibly grateful for the support the vendors of Australasia have again given the sale this year. There will be endless opportunities for buyers across all levels of the market." Mr Bowditch said.
"This sale has produced so many elite results for vendors and buyers - the dams of stars including Winx, Trapeze Artist, Angel of Truth, Levendi, Microphone, Sunlight, Shoals and Hiyaam were all bought here providing buyers with immediate returns on investment."
A supplementary catalogue is in production and will be released next month. To view the online catalogue for the 2019 Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale visit http://www.magicmillions.com.au. The catalogue is also available for download on the Equineline iPad app. Hard copies of the catalogue will be posted early May.