Wondai apprentice Joshua King (red sliks) on Hidden Duck waits for his number to go into the second slot at drought-blighted Noorama after the BM 60 Handicap (Photo: Ross Stanley)

Gunsynd's GossipApril 17, 2015

Place prizemoney picked up by Norma King’s duo Hidden Duck and Flight Command at last Saturday’s Noorama Picnic Race Club red dirt meeting represented the only returns for district stables this past week.

Hidden Duck has turned into a great money spinner with four wins, three seconds and a third coming from his last nine assignments.

The sequence, which began on home sand at Wondai last October, has also embraced appearances at Charleville, Blackall, Gladstone, Gatton, Thangool, Kumbia and Gympie.

The Hidden Dragon gelding’s successful partners have been Joshua King, Jason Missen and Shenny Chan.

Noorama, the state’s most south-westerly course, is situated about a 100 kilometres south-east of Cunnamulla in an horrifically drought stricken zone.

The club that kicked off as a grass and corn-fed operation in 1966 drew three capacity fields of ten and two nines for its five races, which all ran in the anti-clockwise direction.

Although the $100 rebate paid to connections of horses finishing fifth or worse was handy, so too were the excellent purses that ranged from $8000 to $12,000.

The Charmed One, prepared at St George by Pat Webster, struck pay dirt in the Maiden.

The Tycoon Ruler filly took home $8700, courtesy of the QTIS bonus.

The Cup went to More of the Zaim, the five-year-old from Sheree Mcewan’s Goondiwindi yard that had finished third at Nanango three runs back in October.

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Rhiannon Payne, pictured after a Deagon success last September, had reason to smile again at Rockhampton last Saturday (Photo: Ross Stanley)

The Focus Shifts To Wondai

While there is interest in seeing how candidates trained by James Curtain, Tony Williams and Norma King fare at Thangool this Saturday, the planets are lining up positively for Wondai’s traditionally popular Anzac Day fixture.

There will be a useful two week break after the most recent Gympie card.

Moreover, because of Show commitments, the Southside track will next host racing on 20 June.

In short, the opportunities for sand-trackers will be reduced during the next two months, so Wondai hopefully will get desirable nominations for its bill, particularly the Maiden Plate (1100m) that provides $8375 to a QTIS eligible winner.

Meanwhile, Wondai-based apprentice Rhiannon Payne has been quietly putting together some very tidy efforts of late.

Last Saturday she took out Rockhampton’s $100,000 Capricorn Yearling Sale Classic with Lad’s My Dad (3/1).

Inside a month, Payne chalked up five wins at Callaghan Park, and one apiece at Roma and Dalby.

During that period she wasn’t aboard the best of the cattle with 13 of her mounts jumping at odds ranging between 20/1 and 66/1.

In fact, her five rides there on Thursday started at 14s, 66s, 20s and two at 40/1.

The juicy plum Rhiannon picked on April 11 will surely generate better bookings.

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Burrandowan Is Looming, Too

A fortnight after Wondai’s activity, attention will swing to Burrandowan’s annual blockbuster.

The club’s comprehensive website certainly covers all bases.

It is exciting to note that food-wise, two new initiatives are being introduced for 2015.

There will be a High Tea served in the historic hall at 3:00pm and pre-ordered Luncheon Hampers will also be available.

More pointers about Burrandowan will be in future columns..

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Dances With Stars (ridden by Michael Cahill) stole the limelight in last year’s Prime Minister’s Cup (Photo: Ross Stanley)

Prime Minister’s Move To The Backbench Is Now Due

Hopefully the sub-head above grabbed your attention, because leaving out the word “Cup” was a sneaky ploy to point out an embarrassing oddity.

It is inexcusable that the Prime Minister’s Cup, the contest that traditionally tops the billboard for the Gold Coast’s carnival contribution. now carries the lowest stakes on the nine race agenda.

The listed event’s earlier prestigious history as a key staying test is now a distant memory.

This year’s Anzac Day renewal over 1400 metres is down $75,000 from its 2014 level of $175,000 with the A.D. Hollindale Stakes ($358,000, 1800m) the obvious feature.

The Ken Russell Classic has gone from $100,000 to $125,000 and is now categorised as Group 3.

Although it is acknowledged that Eagle Farm’s closure has forced a reshuffle of programming and that the Victory Stakes (up $25,000 to $200,000) and the Chairman’s Handicap (up $10,000 to $125,000) are not usually on this Cup Day menu, it is ridiculous that a famous title is attached to such a down-graded affair.

Malcolm Fraser and John Howard attended the PM’s Cup meeting, but no national leader should be invited now that it is a bottom drawer honour.

Let’s not forget the long term sponsorship by Carlton Draught.

The brewers now find themselves tied to a cellar dweller.

The remedy is simple: retire the PM link and create a new name for 2016.

On the thoroughbred side of the issue, Dances With Stars, last year’s Prime Minister Cup victor, may well make a fourth consecutive assault on the Gold Coast’s winter program.

The Snitzel gelding ran second to Sizzling in the 2012 Ken Russell Classic and third to Academus in the 2013 Gold Coast Guineas.

Gerald Ryan’s charge filled eighth berth at Doomben last Saturday at just his second outing since May last year.

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