CAN lightning strike twice? Google the question and you'll get almost 15 million results in less than half a second - all saying "yes"!
How about five times? There's an even louder "yes" from connections of last year's 950m Cairns Lightning winner Desert Cowboy. The Far North Queensland sprinter now has five wins plus four placings from 14 starts over the same 950m distance at Cairns. That includes winning his last two starts on June 11 and again last Thursday, July 9.
He's fast and he's durable. Beginning with his Cairns Lightning win on August 10 last year, Desert Cowboy has raced every month during the 2019-20 racing season except November and May with five wins and seven placings from 15 starts at Cairns, Townsville and Innisfail.
What's more, only twice did he fail to earn prize money so that his seasonal tally now stands at $80,300. All-up, his race record reads 45 starts for 12 wins and 15 placings and total earnings of $179,750. His last seven wins have been with Cairns trainer Trevor Rowe preceded by five earlier wins in south east Queensland when trained by David Vandyke (1), Lindsay Hatch (3) and Darryl Hansen (1).
Now a rising 7YO year old by English Group 1 winning juvenile Hayil (USA), Desert Cowboy is a home-bred for Darling Downs breeder Helen Yeates. What began as a hobby 23 years ago for Helen - when her three children Kim, Nicholas and Mathew had all left school - has morphed into countless hours spent studying pedigrees finding suitable sires to nick with several mares she runs on a property at Highfields near Toowoomba.
Helen picked Desert Desire as a weanling because she was by Desert Sun (GB) - sire of the magnificent mare Sunline (13 Group 1 wins) plus other Group 1 winning mares Egyptian Raine and La Bella Dama. In addition, Desert Sun daughters have produced more than 250 winners including the incomparable Black Caviar and her half-brother All Too Hard.
Although unraced through injury Desert Desire proved a bargain buy with her 10 foals to race all earning prize money. Unfortunately, she died in September 2018 at the age of 18 after a colic attack. "She was a beautiful mare - always covered in dapples - but time wearied her. I treasure what she did for me," Helen said.
RQ announces prize money return
RACING Queensland has announced prize money for metropolitan Thoroughbred meetings will return to pre-COVID levels from August 1.
Despite most prize money levels being maintained during the global pandemic, RQ reduced Saturday metropolitan races from $75,000 to $65,000 upon the implementation of designated racing regions. Its traditional winter carnivals were also abandoned, with selected features run at significantly reduced prize money levels.
The savings helped facilitate $7.25 million in hardship and carnival compensation payments for Queensland racing clubs, which were forced to endure patron-free meetings from late March.
"The Queensland racing industry has navigated a particularly challenging period. With restrictions beginning to ease, it is pleasing to see prize money returned to pre-COVID levels," Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said.
Over the past three months, RQ CEO Brendan Parnell confirmed the organisation had programmed an additional 106 Thoroughbred races, providing more than $2 million in further prize money payments. "During this period, our priority was to protect the livelihoods of our 40,000 industry participants. By dividing races, we were able to provide increased opportunities for owners, trainers and jockeys across the state," he said.
"While our traditional winter carnivals were unable to proceed, we were able to maintain the vast majority of prize money in recent months, including our QTIS and QTISx bonuses, and were able to provide more than $7 million in compensation payments to our clubs. We're mindful that our participants and clubs remain at the heart of racing and it was vital that we supported them during this time," Mr Parnell said.
Wapiti wins Group 3 Winx Guineas
BEAUTY is in the eye of the beholder! When a now 3YO gelding entered the Sunshine Coast stables of trainer Gary Duncan his large head earned him the stable nick-name 'Moose'. Consequently when it came to naming him connections opted for Wapiti - a Native American word for Elk which, along with the Moose, is one of the largest species within the deer family.
However, it was Wapiti's large head that prevailed by 0.5 lengths in the 1600m Group 3 Winx Guineas for 3YOs at Caloundra's Corbould Park on the Sunshine Coast last Saturday.
Bred and part-owned by Sunshine Coast trainer Carolyn Hickey, Wapiti was consigned by Kenmore Lodge to the 2018 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale where he failed to make his $40,000 reserve. Unraced as a 2YO, Wapiti made his racing debut on November 2 last year when he dead-heated for second behind subsequent million dollar earner The Odyssey. Just 10 starts later he now has three wins and four placings with his Group 3 win coming at his first start in a black-type race.
Wapiti becomes the fifth black-type winner for the Sun Stud owned stallion Love Conquers All who will stand the 2020 season at Clear Mountain Fairview at a fee of $5500. The son of Mossman has enjoyed a great run of success with Group 2 Dane Ripper Stakes winner Love You Lucy leading the way. It was almost a quinella result for Love Conquers All and Gary Duncan with Wapiti's stablemate Love Express running third to also earn his first black-type.
Wapiti is the only winner from two to race from the Dubai Destination (USA) mare Lucky Dubai who won nine and placed in four of her 38 starts with earnings of $246,550. Bought originally by Vin Cox Bloodstock for just $7500 at the 2007 Magic Millions National Weanling Sale, Lucky Dubai hails from the family of the Group 1 Royal Ascot Golden Jubilee winner Fayr Jag.
First-up win for Bat A Kat
TO say Rockhampton-based 5YO gelding Bat A Kat has taken a 'battering' during the past 18 months is an under-statement! Having his first start since December 2018, Bat A Kat won first-up in a 1200m Open handicap at Rockhampton on July 7 for trainer Mark Lehmann.
Rockhampton racing journalist Tony McMahon reported on the Rockhampton Jockey Club web page that during the long break between starts, Bat A Kat underwent a series of complex surgical procedures and treatment for knees and tendon issues.
"Nursed back to health and his superior athleticism by carers Kerry and Mark Lehmann, the 5YO was poised like a cat during the running of the Open (1200m) before pouncing to win by close to a head. Part-owner Kerry Lehmann was overjoyed by the win while Bat A Kat's trainer Mark Lehmann can take great satisfaction that his fastidious and patient training efforts were rewarded so gloriously. Even more gratifying, the memorable win of Bat A Kat provided the trainer with his first winner with his first runner since taking a break from training in 2016," McMahon reported.
Before his solo start for Lehmann, who is listed as co-breeder, Bat A Kat was based with Sunshine Coast trainer Darryl Hansen who prepared him for five wins and five placings from 12 starts - his wins coming at Doomben, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast.
A son of dual Group 1 Doomben Ten Thousand winner Falvelon, Bat A Kat is from the Knowledge mare Regal Megan whose tally of 14 wins included 12 in central Queensland with nine recorded at Rockhampton. Regal Megan was bred and raced by Gladstone painting contractor Marino Katsanevas who is also listed as the co-breeder of Bat A Kat and co-owner with Kerry Lehmann.
Winx relation tops successful sale
A COLT out of a half-sister to world champion mare Winx topped the Inglis Easter Round Two sale held at the Inglis Riverside Sales Complex, Warwick Farm, Sydney, NSW on July 5.
On what was a unique day of selling top-level southern hemisphere yearlings in July, almost 75 per cent of all stock offered was sold to a diverse range of buyers from around the world.
By record-breaking stallion I Am Invincible from the unraced Encosta De Lago mare Miss Atom Bomb - a half-sister to Winx - the top priced colt sold to Rosehill trainer Gerald Ryan for $700,000.
The colt was sold by Bhima Thoroughbreds on behalf of Victorian breeders Peter and Terry Board, who bought Miss Atom Bomb at the 2012 New Zealand Premier yearling sale for $150,000 as the first foal out of Vegas Showgirl. "The next foal out of the mare was Winx so we might not have got the best one to race but we're certainly having some fun breeding with this mare,'' Terry Board said.
Victorian-based Yulong Stud offered equal-second top lots, a Frankel/Lake Hamana filly and an I Am Invincible/ Gypsy Diamond colt, both selling for $500,000. Satomi Oka Bloodstock, Inglis' Japanese representative, bought the Frankel filly on behalf of client Dr Yamazumi. The filly will head to Champions Farm in Japan. The Gypsy Diamond colt sold to Colm Santry Bloodstock and will be trained by Chris Waller as part of the Coolmore Stallion Syndicate arrangement.
Yulong also sold a Pierro/Albaicin filly to Sunshine Coast trainer Natalie McCall for $200,000 while prominent Brisbane bloodstock agent John Foote acting for Swettenham Stud paid a similar amount for a Fastnet Rock/Ciarlet colt offered by Coolmore Stud.
Queensland vendor Highgrove Stud, Westbrook, was also prominent selling a Snitzel/Helena's Secret colt for $300,000 to Aquis Farm, Canungra and an American Pharoah (USA)/Tornado Miss colt for $130,000 to Victorian-based A List Stud.
Record price for Scone yearlings
EASTER Round Two was immediately followed by a successful renewal of the Scone Yearling Sale, in which six yearlings equalled or bettered the 2019 top price of $60,000. A Toronado/Settecento colt from Jazcom Thoroughbreds, set a new Scone record selling to Hawkes Racing for $180,000. The colt was a successful pinhook, with Jazcom buying him as a weanling from last year's Great Southern Sale for just $10,000.
Both sales were the first live yearling auctions conducted in the southern hemisphere since the COVID-19 restrictions commenced and Inglis' managing director Mark Webster was pleased with the day's trade. "We are very grateful for the patience of our vendors through this challenging period, while also recognising the tremendous support shown by our buyers today and over the past number of months," he said.