Nanango apprentice Hannah English has rocketed to the top of the state’s all-age, all-district country riding premiership. And fellow apprentice Hannah Phillips isn’t very far behind her.
English’s 105 mounts taken from August 1, 2015 to January 15, 2016 have generated a 24-11-11 scoreline, a 23% winning strike rate and $148,075 in prizemoney.
Stephanie Lacy (88: 20-13-6, 22.7%, $134,375) and the North West’s Dan Ballard (75:19-19-9, 25%, $145,275) are the nearest chasers.
English, who picked up a double at Gatton on January 3 and a treble at Taroom on Boxing Day, is in demand with six bookings at Toowoomba on Friday night, six at Dalby on Saturday and three at Ballina on Sunday.
Hannah Phillips, meanwhile, currently sits in tenth spot on the ladder with a 12-12-15 tally from 85 partnerships that accrued more than $102,000 in stakes.
The Lee Park based junior had the pleasure of landing a provincial winner on Ollie Runs Riot at Warwick on Boxing Day.
She will be overjoyed if she can kick home her best pal Captain Clayton at Dalby’s TAB program this weekend.
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Light Enters As Curtain Opens
Kumbia trainer James Curtain has had an encouraging start to 2016 with two of his three runners to date earning prizemoney.
The stable’s promising maiden colt The Equine Bolt (10/1), having his first outing since his handy debut effort at Ipswich last May, filled third berth at Toowoomba last Saturday, while Lady Wivenhoe came from a long way back to claim the runner-up cheque at Bell in Class B grade over 1300 metres.
The duo were both handled by Hannah Phillips.
Although I Am McLovin missed a place a Doomben on January 6, the gelding impressed with a fast finishing second at his previous half mile assignment at Ipswich on December 19.
The Murtajill four-year-old is a Dalby engagement for Phillips this weekend.
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Bell Had Wide Appeal
On January 2, a buoyant crowd was on hand for the annual New Year fixture conducted at Bell, the village on the Bunya Highway between Dalby and Kingaroy.
The cross-section of ages in attendance underlined the role country racing plays across the generations.
The intimate nature of rural racing gives children close contact with horses, action and the general phases of a race day.
Meanwhile older folk can enjoy the socialising, betting and sporting aspects of the game.
The roll-up at Bell again suggested that country venues punch well above their weight.
Many small places draw numbers at a higher percentage per capita than their city counterparts can average.
Jockey Andrew Spinks was on hand to witness his son Adam’s third career victory, that came courtesy of a splendid effort on the Redoute’s Choice gelding Smooth Talker.
Toowoomba trainer Donald “Duck” Baker pulled the right rein in engaging the four kilo claimer for the $8 chance that had been allotted 64.5 in the Landmark-Carrick Aland Accountants Handicap BM 65 (1200m).
Adam did well to overcome gate 10 and looked good in securing a head margin over Spice of Life (Gina Mitchell) and Our Clarky (Montanna Savva).
The 21 year old, whose previous wins were at Mackay and Atherton, has a 40% place percentage from around 52 rides to date.
Adam’s lead up education to race-riding included extensive stints in the dressage arena.
Incidentally, his father Andrew must have been inspired – the next day at Gatton, he landed a double and two seconds.
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The triumph by Leila’s Call in the Warwick Credit Union-Agrifoods Australia Maiden Plate (1000m) had the touch of a fairy tale.
Before she started for Oakey trainer Bradley Hudson, the Sequalo mare suffered injuries that needed around 250 stitches when she had a violent reaction to a penicillin injection.
The grand-daughter of Celestial Dancer went berserk, bolted and was virtually scalped as she ran amok, crashing through obstacles that included timber fencing and a chicken coop.
The now five-year-old had shown plenty of promise and was only three weeks away from an eagerly awaited debut when that disaster struck.
She eventually raced some eight months after her purchase.
Aspects of the trauma have taken a toll and the original talent is yet to fully return.
But the persistence of the mare and her connections has now been rewarded.
In the drive to the post, Hannah Phillips brought Leila’s Call down the outside to claim Halpin (Melody O’Brien) and Hudson’s other candidate Everingham (Adam Spinks).
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It is very quiet on the non-TAB front at present, but Kilcoy’s annual Australia Day fixture should prove popular on Tuesday, January 26.
After this, Warwick races will run on January 30; Bundaberg will kick off on February 6; Nanango will do likewise on Valentine’s Day eve (February 13); and Eidsvold’s Cup day is set down for February 20.
Best wishes for the happiest, healthiest and luckiest of years!