'OLD' was an appropriate word to describe both horse and jockey when 8YO gelding Scherzoso was ridden to victory by 61-year-old Robert Thompson in this year's 1400m Cairns Newmarket Handicap on Saturday.
"He's an old horse - but he's ideal for north Queensland" is the reason Mackay trainer and former jockey Trinity Bannon gave when she bought Scherzoso for $20,500 in a 32 bids online auction in March this year.
Four months later, at just his third start for his new trainer, the 8YO gelding doubled her outlay with the Cairns Newmarket worth $42,700 to the winner. It's the second Newmarket win for Bannon - her first being last year's Mackay Newmarket winner Grand Emperor (G Written Tycoon/Meridian Belle (NZ).
While Bannon freely admitted Scherzoso was 'old' with the horse having just officially turned 8YO on August 1, the 34-year-old trainer hedged her bets regarding '60-plus' Australian Racing Hall of Fame jockey Robert Thompson who was having his first ride for her stable. "He has so much experience. Under wet and windy conditions, he took the horse to the outside of the track where the going was better after six preceding races plus was able to give me expert feedback after the race as to how Scherzoso was travelling," Bannon said.
Bannon bought Scherzoso on behalf of Sarina grazier Kris Thomas because of his durability and versatility. Having begun his racing career with a first-up 2YO maiden win at Gawler, SA, in April 2014, Scherzoso has won or placed in five seasons of racing from 2 to 8YO apart from missing his 6YO season through injury.
By Bianconi (USA) from the Encosta De Lago mare Café Del Mar, Scherzoso was considered a capable sprinter/stayer winning up to 2000m at Caulfield, Flemington and Morphettville when trained by Tony McEvoy and later Aaron Purcell for the OTI Racing syndicate. In fact, he placed at Flemington at 1800m during the 2016 Melbourne Cup Carnival and was also runner-up in the Listed Ballarat Cup, Traralgon Cup and Dunkeld Cup - the latter two races in November and December last year. All up, he earned around $350,000 from five wins and 13 placings in Victoria, SA and NSW before being bought by Bannon.
Having won the Cairns Newmarket at 1400m, Bannon now has her options open for future races. "His next start will be an open 1609m race at Townsville on August 15 followed by the 2000m Townsville Amateurs Cup on August 24. Then there's the possibility of returning to Cairns for either the 2100m Cairns Amateurs Cup or the 1400m Open Sprint on September 14," she said.
Third generation jockey/trainer passes million dollar mark
TRAINING has been a natural progression for Trinity Bannon who's now won the Mackay trainer's premiership for the second year in succession. This gives her the Triple Crown having earlier won champion apprentice and senior jockey at Mackay before an accident forced her to quit riding and take up training some three years ago. Her first of her now 87 wins was with China Town (M I Am Invincible/ China Doll) at Mackay in February 2016 and Racing.com statistics show that Bannon has now passed the million dollar mark in stable earnings.
She's also become a third generation jockey/trainer following in the footsteps of her father Michael Bannon and grandfather Tony Bannon who were both based in Victoria. On leaving school, Tony Bannon worked at the Caulfield and Mentone tracks for a variety of trainers including Phar Lap's trainer, Harry Telford, and Jim Cummings - father of Bart. Twice leading Victorian apprentice jockey, Bannon rode against jockeys of the calibre of Scobie Beasley, Alan McLean and Alan Burton. He rode winners in every state bar WA.
In addition to Scherzoso and Grand Emperor, a third stable star has been another 8YO gelding Warwick Avenue (Onemorenomore/Rock Revival) - also owned by Kris Thomas -who was named Mackay horse of the year for the 2018/19 season courtesy of his seven wins and three placings since entering Bannon's stables in August last year.
Top first season sires based in Qld
TWO Queensland-based sires topped Australia's leading first season sires lists for earnings and winners for the 2018-19 season.
Sidestep - based at Telemon, Innisplain - was champion first season sire by earnings with six winners and total stakes earnings of $2,557,890 while Better Than Ready - based at Lyndhurst Stud, Warwick - was a clear winner of the winners category with 23 while earnings of $2,032,420 placed him second behind Sidestep for earnings. Another Queensland-based sire Whittington (Grandview Stud) was prominent with seven individual winners including Stampe who won his last start as a 2YO and then won first up as a 3YO at Doomben on Saturday, August 3
It's the second season in succession that a Queensland sire has topped the winners list with Spirit Of Boom siring 18 winners in the 1017-18 season with progeny earnings of $1.94 million which also placed him runner-up to Zoustar on the champion first season sire by earnings. The Eureka-based sire continued to generate winners in 2018-19 with 62 winners and more than $5.76 million progeny earnings which placed him runner-up - again to Zoustar (64 winners of $7.46 million) - on the second season sires list for both earnings and winners.
Telemon toasts Sidestep
TELEMON Thoroughbreds staff paused last Thursday, August 1 at the Innisplain stud to toast their Champion First Season sire Sidestep.
The young son of Exceed And Excel adds the honour to his title of Champion 2YO Colt of 2013, and joins an illustrious group which, in preceding years, includes Zoustar (2018), Pierro (2017), Smart Missile (2016), Hinchinbrook (2015), I Am Invincible (2014) And Northern Meteor (2013). Zoustar, sire of superstar Sunlight, was the only member of that group to exceed Sidestep's first season prizemoney total.
Sidestep's first crop sired at Darley's Kelvinside Stud in the Hunter Valley, NSW, was headlined by multiple stakes winner Kiamichi, winner of the Group 1 Golden Slipper and Group 3 Magic Night Stakes. With Kiamichi's win, Sidestep became the first sire since Stratum to sire a Golden Slipper winner in his first crop. In a phenomenal season, Sidestep placed fourth in the 2YO Sires table behind I Am Invincible, Snitzel and his own illustrious sire Exceed And Excel, with the latter only passing him on the final day of the season. Sidestep also currently leads the First Season Sires table in France for earnings and winners with four winners including two stakes horses from just nine runners. If he can prevail as a dual hemisphere Champion First Season sire, it will be a history-making feat.
The results of Sidestep's first crop have been a coup for Telemon Thoroughbreds which will stand him for a second season on its Queensland roster under an arrangement with Darley.
Telemon owner Dan Fletcher said: "We are so proud of what Sidestep has achieved. He has given us an amazing start at Telemon as well as justified the faith in him from Darley and those breeders that have sent mares to him across his first four years at stud. It is a coup for the Queensland breeding industry and a privilege for our farm to have another champion stallion in our ranks."
Strong interstate support for Better Than Ready
AUSTRALIA'S leading First Season Sire by winners for 2018/2019, Better Than Ready, is enjoying significant interstate support from breeders.
The son of Vinery's champion sire More Than Ready stands at Lyndhurst Stud, Warwick. Despite his early horses showing potential at the trials, stud-master Jeff Kruger is surprised by just how successful the young stallion has been.
According to AAP, Better Than Ready boasts 23 individual winners (three stakes-winners) of 49 races in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and Asia - a phenomenal feat when weighed up against the 20 first season winner benchmark set more than 40 years ago. And yet, the results could have been even more spectacular as a further 10 maiden horses ran second! All up, Better Than Ready ended the season with an outstanding 74 percent win/place record from 47 starters. His flag-bearer was The Odyssey - winner of the Listed Phelan Ready Stakes at Doomben and the Aquis 2YO Jewel at the Gold Coast and $557,550 earning including $57,550 in QTIS bonuses.
"The fact he is the first to get more than 20 first season winners since Without Fear in the 1970s is even better because there was such a strong line-up of new sires this season," noted Kruger.
His $30,000 fee has been no anchor on him already having a full book of mares for 2019.
"A big percentage of the mares this season will be from NSW and a good number of them are Group and stakes winners. It is exciting for Queensland racing that some of our sires are starting to attract the attention of top breeders," he said.