by Ross Stanley
The fact that there are 55 acceptors for the Christmas meeting at Lee Park on Sunday is more than pleasing.
The race average of 11 for the five event card surpasses the two competing TAB fixtures to be decided at Toowoomba and Kilcoy on Saturday.
Clifford Park, with seven races each carrying $12,000, has drawn only 51 aspirants while the Somerset district course has 63 contenders for six purses ranging from $10,000 to $30,000.
It is fascinating to explore some of the elements due to be in play during the program.
The Wild Horse-FM Yarraman BM 65 (1000m) features the return of Hopetoun Street, the Nanango Race Club’s reigning Horse Of The Year.
The Kaphero mare, with a superb 5:2-2-1 record on her home patch, will be saddled up by Glenn Richardson.
Her rider Hannah English will be ultra keen to cement her spot at the top of the jockeys’ table at the mid point of Lee Park’s season.
Because Hopetoun Street’s last three appearances have been on the sand at Wondai, Gympie and Bundaberg, it is hard to gauge where the seven-year-old mare is form wise at the moment. But she certainly ticks the “horses for courses” box.
The Kenilworth based Craiglea operation specialises in targeting events with the QTIS bonuses attached.
The blue and white livery will be in use on Craiglea Weapon and Craiglea Mariah in the Nanango RSL-Peterson Memorial QTIS Maiden (1000m) and Craiglea Velvet and Craiglea Ceon later in the day.
Although some racehorses start and finish their careers with the same stable and in the same ownership, many do move on.
On Sunday, two former members of Gillian Heinrich’s Gold Coast string will cross paths.
Tailgating trialled at Gold Coast way back on November 12, 2015. During the same set of training tests, First Bid also went to the post.
The former, now in the Ipswich camp of Al Barnes, is to compete with Beau Appo at the wheel in the Malcolm McCallum Memorial.
The latter is now raced by local trackside neighbours Barry Green and Barry Goodwill.
The Sidereus gelding did not start for Heinrich.
His two trials as a two-year-old were followed by more than an 18 month absence.
His debut for Richardson produced a most creditable second at Gayndah on October 14.
The next start flop at Gympie may well have been related to the sand surface.
The chestnut is QTIS eligible so victory on the weekend would be a festive greeting to the tune of $8000.
Six-year old mare Hariir now calls Warwick home.
Back in April 2014, she beat First Seal in a Randwick barrier trial and was second to the same horse in another trial three months later.
The daughter of Old Deuteronomy must have had some early issues as she had six trials before winning at Queanbeyan in March 2015.
Remarkably, her partners in training included Tommy Berry, Jim Cassidy, Brenton Avdulla, Kerrin McEvoy and Tye Angland.
It will be great to welcome back to the Burnett two jockeys who plied their trade here previously.
Skye Bogenhuber, who spent a lot of time on the circuit in her junior days, went on to take out a string of Toowoomba premierships. She is back from a stint in Western Australia.
Rhiannon Payne during her apprenticeship with James Curtain frequently sported silk at the northern provincials.
She landed a double at Rockhampton this time last year but was then off the scene until late last month.
She resumed at Toowoomba, had two Townsville bookings six days later, quickly backed up with a close second on First Crush for Chris Muncie at Caloundra and then fulfilled an engagement at Rockhampton on Tuesday.
All of that travelling was for five rides over a ten day spread.
Hannah Phillips has an important task at Kilcoy on Saturday before she ventures to her home ground the next day.
Best wishes to her and father Barry with Lisa Fashionista In the $30,000 Cannonball Series Final.
Reminder: The Moffatdale Ridge Wines fashion theme for Sunday is “70s Flairs and Big Hair”.