CENTRAL and North Queensland's four biggest cities - Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville and Cairns - and their racing clubs are set to go head-to-head over six action-packed weeks in October and November in a new race series named the Coral Coast Shield.
A Racing Queensland initiative, the Shield series involves 12 heats plus a final at Townsville on Saturday, November 28 with each city accruing points across the series. Double points will go on offer at the final, with almost $500,000 in prize money up for grabs across the series. In addition, the winning city will secure $25,000 to go towards improving their patron or racing facilities, while each club will also boast a nominated charity partner which will share in a further $25,000.
The Coral Coast Shield will begin at the Rockhampton Jockey Club on Saturday, October 17 with the Beef City Cup headlining the day's three feature races. The series then moves to Cairns on November 1 for the Cape York Cup Open Handicap before Mackay hosts the Cane Country Cup Open Handicap on November 14. Finally, Townsville will end the series with back-to-back meetings with the Castle Hill Cup Open Handicap on November 20 providing the perfect lead into the final on November 28 which features the Coral Coast Cup, the Coral Coast Lightning and the Queen of the Coast.
Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the series had been designed to create a unique intra-state rivalry. "The Coral Coast Shield is a fantastic addition to our racing calendar. It will bring a different dimension to racing with this new and exciting format. In years gone by, we have seen the way in which the North Queensland Games has been fiercely contested and we look forward to the Coral Coast Shield stoking the same fires of competition among four proud cities," he said.
IN future years, the final will rotate to the other cities with Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell suggesting the series would pit city against city, trainer against trainer and jockey against jockey.
"The Coral Coast Shield is an exciting concept. It's also been an extremely challenging year, and through the charity component of the series, we will be able to give back to our regional communities where racing plays such a significant role on and off the track," Mr Parnell said
Having recently unveiled its new multi-million dollar redevelopment, Townsville Turf Club chairman Mal Petrofski believes Cluden Park will provide the perfect backdrop for the culmination of this year's Coral Coast Shield series.
"Given the amount of uncertainty recently, it is incredible to think that industry participants, owners, patrons and also our charity of choice, Riding for the Disabled, now have the opportunity to participate in what promises to be a tremendous spectacle for thoroughbred racing in the North," Mr Petrofski said.
"The new initiative by Racing Queensland rewards the dedication of industry participants in what has been a very unconventional year. To culminate with the final of the Coral Coast Shield in Townsville is an opportunity to give back to the North Queensland community who have waited patiently to return to the track," he said.
Queensland Spring Carnival debut
RACING Queensland's inaugural Spring Carnival will include seven weeks of feature racing headlined by the Weetwood Handicap and the Queensland Cup.
RQ has unveiled the newest addition to its racing calendar, which will be held from August 29 to October 10.
As flagged last year, the 1200m Listed Weetwood Handicap and the 2000m Toowoomba Cup will shift from their traditional autumn timeslots to September 26 in order to coincide with the city's Carnival of Flowers festival. The showpiece Spring Carnival day will also feature the Pat O'Shea Plate for 2YOs and the Toowoomba Guineas for 3YOs.
"The Carnival of Flowers is one of Queensland's great events and it is fantastic to see feature racing coinciding with it on the Darling Downs as part of a Spring Carnival. With an abridged winter due to COVID-19, it's great to see further opportunities for Queensland participants extending into spring ahead of the major features in the southern states," Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said.
The Brisbane Racing Club, Toowoomba and the Gold Coast will all stage meetings throughout the Spring Carnival which begins at Eagle Farm before culminating at Doomben with the running of the 2200m Queensland Cup.
Additional features include the 1600m Listed Brisbane Handicap and the 1300m Gold Coast Pink Ribbon Cup for fillies and mares. Now in its 13th year, the Pink Ribbon Cup has become Australia's largest official community fundraiser for the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
"A Spring Carnival is an exciting addition to our racing calendar. We've managed to program seven weeks of feature racing headlined by the Weetwood before building to an exciting crescendo with the Queensland Cup. We look forward to growing this concept into becoming a real highlight on the Queensland racing calendar." RQ CEO Brendan Parnell said.
Four Newmarket wins for Hansen
FOUR-year-old gelding Doctor Zous has given former Rockhampton trainer Darryl Hansen his fourth win in Rockhampton's feature sprint - the 1200m Newmarket quality handicap - held on Friday, July 17.
Now based at the Sunshine Coast, Hansen's previous winners were Onalar (2008), Perugin Thought (2011) and Le Cap (2015). However, the Racing Queensland website reveals only one trainer, Dick Buckley, has won the Newmarket more times since the race was first run in 1918. Buckley holds the record with five wins beginning with his first in 1953 before notching up a hat-trick of wins between 1955-57 while his final success was in 1961.
By Group 1 winner Zoustar, Doctor Zous is from the winning and Group 3 placed Lonhro mare Cautious who was a $240,000 Easter yearling and later sold for $420,000 at the 2015 Magic Millions broodmare sale in foal to Zoustar. The resultant foal was Doctor Zous who sold for $160,000 at the 2017 Inglis Classic yearling sale. Formerly trained by Bjorn Baker in Sydney, Doctor Zous had three wins and two placings from seven starts before being sold on-line to clients of Darryl Hansen. Since then, he's started a further seven times for another three wins at the Sunshine Coast, Doomben and Rockhampton plus two placings to boost his total earnings to $146,470.
Rockhampton Cup winning progression for Absolut Artie
TWELVE months ago, former Victorian galloper Absolut Artie had his first start for Rockhampton trainer Ricky Vale running third in an 1100m Maiden.
Since then he's started another 13 times at Rockhampton and Mackay for nine wins and four placings. The last three wins have been in succession at Rockhampton culminating in the 1600m Rockhampton Cup last Friday, July 17.
A front running 4YO grey gelding, Absolut Artie is by the Group 1 USA Breeders' Cup Mile winner Artie Schiller (USA) from the Secret Savings (USA) mare Naseej. Absolut Artie is familiar with sale rings having been sold through Inglis for $50,000 both as a weanling and a yearling and then $100,000 as a Ready to Race 2YO. After five unplaced starts retuning about $5000 for Victorian trainer Archie Alexander, Absolut Artie was then sold on-line through Inglis about 14 months ago. "A family friend Kerry Titmus spotted three horses online and we opted for Absolut Artie with Kerry and my ex-partner Natasha Kuhl co-owning the horse," Vale said. His nine wins and four placings have so far returned more than $143,000 prize money - almost 18 times his $8000 purchase price.
Ricky Vale also achieved state-wide prominence last season when his sprinter Mr Attitude was named Racing Queensland's Provincial Horse of the Year having progressed from a Class 1 horse in December 2018 through to winning 10 races including the Mackay Newmarket and the Townsville Cleveland Bay at his final two starts in July 2019.
Gollan breaks Qld record with classic win
BRISBANE-based Tony Gollan has set a Queensland record for a trainer with 152.5 wins after 4YO mare Solar Star won the 1350m Listed Gai Waterhouse Classic at Ipswich on Saturday.
Racing and Spots webnews reports Gollan already had gained the record for most metropolitan victories when last month he became the first to train 100 winners in a season. He went into Saturday's race on 151.5 statewide winners and needed one more to beat the previous record of 152. Solar Star also gave Gollan his eighth Listed win of the season when she held on to beat Jami Lady in a driving finish.
By Zoutstar from the Not A Single Doubt mare Petty Cury, Solar Star cost $190,000 at the 2017 New Zealand Premier yearling sale and then won four races for Melbourne trainer Anthony Freedman before she was sold to John Baxter for $105,000 at last year's Magic Millions National Broodmare sale to dissolve a partnership.
The outlay was justified as she has now earned a further $181,000 through four wins - three from three at Ipswich - plus four placings for Brisbane trainer Tony Gollan with the added bonus of having a Listed win black-type update in her pedigree when she enters the Magic Millions sale ring next Monday, July 27.
First black type wins for trainer and jockey
FIVE-year-old Godolphin cast-off Bandipur has given Gold Coast trainer Kelly Purdy and jockey Jag Guthmann-Chester their first black-type wins after victory in the Listed Eye Liner Stakes (1200m) at Ipswich on Saturday.
Racing and Sports webnews reports Purdy is in the record books as a jockey when she rode one of the longest-priced winners of a Magic Millions race on Warrior Girl in the 2010 Sprint. She retired shortly after that win and has trained a small team on the Gold Coast for most of the past decade.
Bred by Darley, Bandipur is a 5YO gelding by Commands from the winning Viscount mare Pattamada and carrying the Godolphin colours he won the Listed Lightning Stakes in Adelaide plus seven other wins in Melbourne, Moe and Sydney before the decision was taken to catalogue him at last year's Magic Millions National racehorse sale. The buyer was one of Queensland's biggest owners, Mick Crooks, who paid $260,000 for him. After five unplaced starts in Victoria for Richard Laming, Crocks decided to relocate the horse to Queensland and impressed with Purdy's work ethic gave her Bandipur to train. "I was so thrilled to get a good horse from Mick. It makes getting up in the morning worthwhile," Purdy said.
One week delay for Magic Millions National Sale
THE 2020 Magic Millions National Sale, which was due to begin on Monday, July 20, has been delayed by one week.
After announcements in relation to COVID-19 restrictions, a decision was made by Magic Millions, in conjunction with stakeholders, to begin the auction on July 27.
"It's imperative to our industry we give participants the best opportunity to attend, the National Sale plays a vital part on the sales calendar. The extra week provides prospective buyers with the opportunity to research and inspect the catalogue if they are in a position to do so," Magic Millions managing director Barry Bowditch said.
"Our complex has been confirmed as a COVID-19 safe venue by health officials and extra measures are in place to protect all industry participants while focusing strongly on horse welfare. These new dates are locked in and the sale will proceed regardless of any change in circumstances," Bowditch added.
REVISED SALE SCHEDULE
Monday 27 July - 2pm - National Broodmare Sale
Tuesday 28 July - 10am - National Broodmare Sale
Wednesday 29 July - 10am - National Broodmare Sale
Thursday 30 July - 2pm - National Weanling Sale
Friday 31 July - 10am - National Weanling Sale
Monday 3 August - 10am - National Yearling Sale
Tuesday 4 August - 10am - National Yearling Sale
Tuesday 4 August - National Racehorse Sale follows yearlings