by Ross Stanley
After Blackbutt trainer Wayne Farrington legged Hannah English on to the favourite Striking Warrior for the API Maiden Plate (1200m) at Esk last Saturday, the gelding paraded and warmed-up without a problem before his first run since last July.
However, the Chateau Istana gelding began bucking just after barrier rise.
The six times placed six-year-old struck and straddled the inside rail, before galloping riderless at speed across the infield golf course in the direction of the 200 metre pole.
The fear was that Cossack Warrior’s grandson would arrive there about the same time as the remaining five runners.
But the prospect of the runaway jumping the rail and colliding with horses was averted when he decided to turn a full ninety degrees at the last second and come down the inside as if still in the race.
Striking Warrior managed to avoid all the obstacles but did incur lacerations to the left foreleg and fetlock.
English, who has partnered the horse in track work, was cleared by paramedics and finished her engagements.
The passing of the potential danger was soon replaced by excitement.
The race winner was the Pat Duff trained Lord Darius, a Duke of Marmalade four-year old with 16 unplaced efforts on his resume.
It was the first career ride for Duff’s temporary apprentice Emma Bell, a 28 year-old from Clermont who previously served as a Workplace Health and Safety Advisory Officer for several Central Queensland mines.
Bell, who is indentured to her mother Jenny, had childhood ambitions to don silk, but her family’s fears about the job’s inherent dangers steered her towards safer ground.
Emma was certainly bred for thoroughbred involvements.
Her father Bill, grandmother Iris and aunts Julie and Glenda have all been jockeys, trainers or both.
Emma joined Duff’s stables so she could complete the mandatory 20 trials required for a ticket to ride.
Duff’s willingness to continue helping the rookies is a bonus for the industry.
The veteran Deagon mentor, who supervised beginners such as Jim Byrne, Mick Pelling and, for a while, Mick Dittman, has been a quiet but masterful stalwart for the sport on several different levels.
Debbie McMaster’s enthusiasm for the thoroughbred game was emphasised by the continuous smiles she showed after saluting on the $16 rank outsider So Choosy in the Des Moore Memorial Class B (1200m).
McMaster gained an inside passage soon after swinging for home, and So Choosy dug deep in the run to the wire.
The mare was bought by her Warwick trainer Michael Hemmings and his wife Naomi for stud purposes as her sire is Redoute’s Choice.
Her grand-dam So Keen (NZ) won the 1994 Group Two AJC Surround Stakes and three other black type events and she, in turn, produced the stakeswinning pair Cosmic Cube and Keeninsky.
Although Debbie is based at Murphy’s Creek near Tooowoomba, she enjoys the supportive task of regularly travelling to distant parts.
Earlier this season, she stepped up to the mark at the likes of Blackall, Longreach, Jundah, Cunnamulla, Goondiwindi, Isisford and Mount Isa.
The veteran hoop, who has a strong New Zealand racing heritage, is no stranger to the South Burnett.
She landed a Nanango Cup on Fra Omega about two decades ago.
Her mother Robynne Aitken was a member of the pioneering squad that completed in ladies-only contests around the country courses in the 1970s before equal opportunity was finally phased in.
Best wishes to the South Burnett players who are rolling the dice this weekend – hopefully, there will be some profitable news to report next weekend!