THEY came, they raced and they mostly conquered or placed! A total of 19 individual horses wore the distinctive orange with yellow H colours of Cairns racing identity Tom Hedley in nine of the 16 races held over the two-day Cleveland Bay/Townsville Cup carnival on Thursday and Friday, July 25 and 27, for three wins, three seconds and a third to earn $144,400 in prizemoney.
The most significant victory was the $88,500 first prizemoney for the 2000m Townsville Cup won by 4YO gelding The Harrovian - the first Townsville Cup win for Hedley and co-owner/trainer Stephen Massingham and the second for veteran Australian Racing Hall of Fame jockey Robert Thompson who won his first cup 20 years earlier on Once Upon A Crime.
Third in the race earning a further $13,500 was another Hedley horse - 6YO gelding Hadern, trained by Townsville-based Michael Geaney, who had been runner up to Bergerac in the Mackay Cup at his previous start.
Indeed, Hedley horses dominated the Cup field with six of the 16 starters. The horses - raced by Hedley in various combinations with other owners - were The Harrovian and Vassal (trained by Massingham), Follow Suit and Estikhraaj (Lauren Abbott), Harden (Michael Geaney) and Crimson Halo (Roy Chillemi).
With around 35 horses in work across several trainers, Hedley said his 19 starters at Townsville was probably a record in his colours at a two-day meeting. "I can't recall if I've had similar numbers at past Cairns Amateurs. It's probably a photo finish although more likely Townsville wins," he said.
The Harrovian has international pedigree
NOW the winner of eight races plus four placings from 21 starts, The Harrovian has raced seven times since March this year for Stephen Massingham for five wins and two seconds in Townsville and Cairns. His earlier three wins were for Melbourne trainer Jim Conlan however a serious bout of travel sickness on route to Cairns almost killed the horse before a seven weeks convalescence in Brisbane saw him pull through.
In fact, The Harrovian has an international pedigree to metaphorically 'die for'. His sire is Australian-bred and international shuttle stallion Fastnet Rock while his dam is the winning Dehere (USA) mare Harrow which makes him a full brother to dual Group 3 winner and four-times Group 1 placed We're Gonna Rock. In addition, Harrow is a half-sister to New Zealand Group 1 winner Bluebird The Word and Group 1 Coolmore Stakes winner Porto Roca who has now achieved international acclaim as the dam of Group 1 Dubai World Cup winner Monterosso.
The other winning Hedley horses on Cleveland Bay day were Love Is Blind (G2 Love Conquers All/Fouette) - a $26,000 buy at last year's Magic Millions March yearling sale at the Gold Coast - who won the 2 and 3YO Maiden Handicap (1000m) for Tolga-based Roy Chillemi and Cedarwood (G4 Your Song/Ceol Na Sraide (Ire) - a $150,000 yearling at the 2016 Magic Millions yearling sale at the Gold Coast - who won a 1000m Class 3 Plate for Stephen Massingham.
Hedley also had success during the recent Brisbane Winter racing carnival with his former north Queensland sprinting star Tyzone who was runner-up in the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap having previously won the Group 3 Brisbane Racing Club Sprint at Doomben in May and the Listed Goldmarket at the Gold Coast in March.
Long owner/jockey association
THE winning combination of Cairns owner Tom Hedley and Cessnock, NSW jockey Robert Thompson began some 40 years ago when Hedley bought a tried horse from Cessnock trainer Arthur Thompson - Robert's father.
The horse was Louis Bay (Denizen/Beach Manner) who then went on to win what is now known as the Cairns Triple Crown of the Cairns Lightning, Newmarket and Cup. The association was then continued when Hedley sent his horse Grey Aztec (Raffindale/San Simeon) south to Cessnock who Arthur Thompson then trained to win in Sydney.
With the successful links firmly established, Robert Thompson has ridden many times for Hedley at his frequent visits for north Queensland feature race days so when The Harrovian's regular jockey Chris Whiteley couldn't make the 54kg weight, Thompson was a natural choice to ride the horse. However, Whiteley did have the satisfaction of winning on another Hedley horse Cedarwood on Cleveland Bay day.
Inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of fame in 2015, Thompson's career spans more than 40 years. Apprenticed to his uncle Norm Collins, his first win came at Wyong in March 1973 and by the time he had completed his apprenticeship, he had 499 winners to his credit. That's now ballooned by almost another 4000 winners to more than 4400 - more than any jockey in Australian racing history!
Northern Crowns Series still active
THE two TAB Queensland Northern Crown Series for sprinters and stayers are still alive with three race meetings at Cairns still to held on August 3 (Cairns Newmarket) and 10 (Cairns Cup) and September 14 (Cairns Amateurs Cup, Cairns Open Sprint).
First introduced in 2018, the Northern Crowns Series offers a $150,000 bonus to any horse that can secure three of the five staying races held across Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville, Cairns and FNQ Amateurs - the bonus swells to $200,000 should one of the three wins include the FNQ Amateurs Cup on September 14. The incentive scheme is mirrored for sprinters with a $100,000 bonus initially on offer, which rises to $150,000 if victory includes the Cairns Amateurs Open Sprint.
Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell said by offering up to $350,000 in bonuses - in addition to record prize money - there has been real incentive for trainers to target the Northern Crowns and extend their horses' campaigns throughout the entire carnival.
While connections of Brisbane-based horses Silvera (Rockhampton Cup) and Wonder Boom (Rockhampton Newmarket) plus Toowoomba-trained Bergerac (Mackay Cup) all opted to return to their home bases, two other horses are still in the running for the lucrative bonuses.
Rockhampton gelding Mr Attitude put himself in line for the sprinter's bonus when he won the Townsville's prestige sprint, the Cleveland Bay Handicap, on Thursday July 25.
Mr Attitude gave jockey Les Tilley and trainer Ricky Vale a major $57,500 payday when he made it six wins from his past seven starts. The 5YO gelding won the Mackay Newmarket at his previous start which means he has two legs of the northern Sprint bonus series.
He can win a $100,000 bonus if he can add the Cairns Newmarket or the FNQ Cairns Amateurs Open Sprint to his wins.
While Townsville Cup winner The Harrovian would have to win both the Cairns Cup and the FNQ Cairns Amateurs Cup to win the bonus, Hedley indicated he was not targeting the bonus. "He'll start in the Cairns Cup and depending on the result we'll reassess our options. Having been at death's door with travel sickness, we don't want to flatten him chasing a bonus," he said.
Dawson delights at Townsville
TWO -year-old filly Dawson Delight has gone one better than her 3YO half-sister Dawson Diva with a debut win in a 1300m QTIS 2YO handicap on Townsville Cup day, Saturday, July 27.
In contrast Dawson Diva - who attracted national attention in June when she was a photo-finish runner-up in the 2200m Group 1 Queensland Oaks at Doomben at rank outsider odds of 150-1 - made her racing debut as a 2YO at Rockhampton on March 3, 2018 finishing 4.25 lengths third in an 1100m maiden.
Both fillies are trained by Sunshine Coast-based Garnett Taylor for Central Queensland cattlemen Callide Valley's John Howard and Stewart Nobbs, Moura's Clive Long and Ron Byriel from Bauhinia Downs.
Having bought the filly's dam Gold Coast Girl for $6000 at the 2009 Magic Millions National yearling sale and winning six races with her including the Rockhampton Tattersall's Cup when trained by Matthew Tremble at Rockhampton, the quartet decided to mate the mare to dual Group 1 Doomben Ten Thousand winner Falvelon. Having missed in her first mating, Gold Coast Girl was re-mated to Falvelon with a filly foal the result. Then with all four owners living in the Callide/Dawson Rivers catchment the name Dawson Diva was a natural fit. In fact there were five owners in Gold Coast Girl - the other owner being Stewart Nobbs' father Eric Nobbs who died in May 2015 aged 97.
They then continued the Dawson prefix with her 2YO half-sister Dawson Delight (Real Saga) and yearling half-sister Dawson Diamond (Rich Enuff). The stamina factor for Dawson Diva's Oaks placing and Dawson Delight's debut win at 1300m comes their maternal grandsire Arena who won the VRC Derby (2500m) and STC Canterbury Guineas (1800).
Boggabilla Cup back
THE 2019 Carrington Cotton Boggabilla Cup will be staged at Goondiwindi's Gunsynd Park this Saturday, August 3.
Goondiwindi Race Club president Geoff Makim - who has close ties to Boggabilla - is thrilled to continue the tradition of Boggabilla Cups and broaden the Country Racing fabric.
"We are very proud of our achievements at Goondiwindi Race Club and we want to acknowledge centres like Boggabilla and Inglewood that no longer have a race track to enjoy country racing. Goondiwindi is fortunate enough to have excellent racing facilities at Gunsynd Park and we believe these other centres can capitalise on these facilities," he said.
"It gives us a great circuit of Country Cups. We held the Inglewood Cup in June. Next is the Boggabilla Cup on August 3, then the Talwood Cup which will be held at Talwood on August 17 followed by the Vern Kleinschmidt Goondiwindi Cup on September 7. The Boggabilla Cup went into recess after 2012 but, following a successful event last year, it is now back and part of the local racing calendar."