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Covering the Central Highlands
Central West Queensland

Sport & Racing

14 April, 2021

A sweet surprise for country racers

COUNTRY owners in Central Queensland in March have hit a huge vein of luck with an extremely big month.

By Richard "Nugget" Turnbull

PHOTO: Supplied

Several Central Queensland owners are revelling in some of the best times of their lives in racing with former Rockhampton galloper Marway, which is raced by the Wagner family in Springsure making it two wins from three starts since joining the Sydney stable of Mark Newnham. 

On March 10, Marway scored an exciting win in the benchmark 78 handicap on the midweek program on the Kensington track with Joshua Parr in the saddle. 

Former Blackall residents Michelle and Ken (Stumpy) Walker are locked in for the ride of a lifetime with boom Rockhampton juvenile filly Sweet Dolly which was bought by the Walkers for just $1500 as a weanling. 

Sweet Dolly is trained by Rockhampton trainer Kevin Hansen. 

The Rockhampton trained filly with regular jockey Justin Stanley onboard took out the $500,000 QTIS two-year-old jewel at the Gold Coast over the March magic millions sales race day. 

To top it all off Rockhampton trained galloper from Graham Greens stable Ahooshu made it a Rockhampton quinella at big odds taking home $90,000 in prize money to put the spotlight right on Central Queensland gallopers. 

The offers are coming thick and fast to buy Sweet Dolly with the Walkers having previously knocked back offers of $400,000 from an Australian buyer for the filly, and word on the track is several six-figure sums have been thrown around to purchase the filly but the answer from the Walkers remains a flat no. 

After years of owning and running a transport business in Blackall, Walkers Transport, they retired to the Capricornia Coast and in recent times Ken (Stumpy) has not been in good health, but Sweet Dolly has given him a new lease on life with his health. 

Her long-term goals are the prestigious group races over the Queensland Winter carnival. 

A big convoy of Central Queenslanders was on course at the Gold Coast including Emerald resident Glen Dickson who is Michelle’s brother. 

He said he didn’t own a share in Sweet Dolly but just being part of the journey with his sister is one of the biggest thrills in his time in racing and he hoped there would be more big days of celebration. 

Last but not least former Central West residents Dan and Rae Fletcher and the Queensland colts syndicate has been a mixture of ecstasy and agony after Russian Camelot ran an extremely brave second placing on March 12 in the All-Star Mile at Moonee Valley behind Kris Lee’s Runner Mugatoo – Russian Camelot’s placing carried $720,000 in prize money.  

Sadly, Russian Camelot has been retired to stud after pulling a tendon and connections are working through a variety of potential stud deals which will no doubt be an extremely lucrative proposition for all involved. 

Last Friday night the Tony McEvoy trained filly Sisstar a full sister to their now-retired champion mare Sunlight scorched the turf at Moonee Valley taking out the 55 second challenge and recording the quickest time of the summer series which included a $55,000 bonus. 

The smart filly could be a late bloomer and could stamp herself as a group performer in a nice Autumn stakes race. 

The Springsure Racetrack came alive for the 68th edition of the Saint Patrick's Day meeting on Saturday with a top day of country racing served up. 

President Terry Hoare was ecstatic with the crowd in attendance and also said the club was extremely happy with the day's racing. 

Racegoers who were on course celebrated strongly, embracing the Irish theme and emphasised their gratefulness to all the people and sponsors who make this iconic Central Highlands race day happen. 

The main event on Saturday was the $12,000 Springsure Bracelet over 1100 metres, which was taken out by Craig Smith’s runner Hezhome ($3.60) ridden to perfection by stable apprentice Dan McGillvray who sat just off the pace to run away in the straight to take out the Bracelet with half a length to spare with Ten goal polo ($4.20) charging late for Chris McIver and Alan Jones. 

Hezhome has amassed wins six and four placings for the Roma-based Smith stable and $135,000 in prize money. 

The win capped off a great day for the Smith stable and McGillvray, who also took out the 1400 metre event on the program with Atyaaf again and earlier in the day rode Saint no more ($2.60) for Clinton Taylor in the rich QTIS maiden over the 900-metre trip making the day a treble for himself. 

Racing action heads back to Pioneer Park in Emerald this weekend for a five-race program as a pipe opener for the big Easter Saturday meeting at Pioneer Park, which coincides with the finish of the CH Easter Sunflower Festival parade and presentations where the winner of CH Sunflower Queen will be announced. 

The streets on the north side of town will be filled with residents and visitors trying to catch a glimpse of the bright and colourful Sunflower Parade as it makes its way through the streets. 

The parade, in its 45th year, is a wonderful opportunity for community groups and businesses to get together at the races to show off their floats, decorated bikes, scooters, prams, and trucks filled with children. 
Vintage cars and emergency services make the slow journey along the streets. 

Lollies scatter the footpath where excited onlookers await to see the spectacular vision of colour. 

The parade will assemble from 8.30am at Rundle Park before it starts at 9.30am to proceed to the racecourse, arriving around 10.30am. 
The festivities will continue at the racecourse with the crowning of the 2021 Sunflower Queen and Junior Princess. 
Emerald Jockey Club vice president Tracey Leake said there will be children's activities and plenty to do for families. 

Most of all, there will be a top day of racing and entertainment, with the racing action kicking off at 12.30pm as a warm-up to the big rodeo also on Saturday night. 

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