Brian Laherty conjured up an impressive victory on Saturday that delighted both serious and omen punters at Nanango’s Lee Park.
Machu Picchu ($2.10), the daughter of Manu Peru he races with his son Darren, won comfortably in the McDonalds Kingaroy BM 65 Handicap (1200m).
The effort of the Nanango trainer, with the longstanding nickname of “Bunny”, was aided by a finely tuned front-running ride by Hannah English.
Bookmakers no doubt rue taking risks with the six-year-old.
The form guide showed that the bay’s only run since a last placing at Caloundra on Boxing Day had yielded a “fourth of eight” result at Gympie on April 6.
However, further back in despatches, Machu Picchu had performed very honourably from a wide gate at Doomben in a winter carnival standard $75,000 Class 6 at set-weights in June.
Machu Picchu ($201, Hannah English) was beaten less than four lengths amid much stronger than rural opposition.
Furthermore there were a number of creditable displays along the way in provincial grade.
Several of the casual punting fraternity backed Machu Picchu simply because her silks were adorned with a distinctive black rabbit.
Those betting moves left bookies with even more egg on their faces.
English knows Machu Picchu very well – they are regular trackwork partners and have joined forces in 17 races.
The team is backing up in the Kingaroy RSL BM 65 Handicap (850m) on Anzac Day at Wondai over a decidedly shorter trip with a two kilogram penalty.
After that outing, Machun Picchu will have registered four of the five required non-TAB starts to be eligible to compete in a 2019 Battle Of The Bush Qualifier.
Although rookie jockeys are likely to express a range of career ambitions during their formative days, the likes of Toowoomba junior Brooke Mackie have understandably individualised targets.
Brooke scored for her master Tony Sears on Cyclone Kaycee in the Pursers Buses QTIS Maiden Plate at Nanango on Easter Saturday.
The 17 year-old is looking forward to landing her first victory at Gatton, the provincial course where her grandfather Jeff Sharman is a clerk of the course.
It will be especially significant because he and his wife Shaune have been the staunchest of supporters in Brooke’s life.
Mackie’s immediate task is to work towards the next level on the licensing ladder.
The thrill of having Jeff escort her to the winner’s circle at the Lockyer Valley course will be palpable.
Sharman worked for the Doug Bougoure stable in Brisbane during the era of the grand galloper Strawberry Road.
The family’s prime equine background lies in the campdrafting world.
Brooke reckons she was on the back of a horse when she was one year old and had a desire to be jockey probably before she began attending primary school.
Thursday’s Wondai Diggers’ Club Cup BM 55 Handicap (1465m), the finale for the South Burnett Race Club’s major day, will be extremely fascinating.
Clouds, the reigning Wondai Cup titleholder, was handicapped to carry a crushing impost of 68.5 kilograms.
That weight – 10.11 in the old money – is what Bernborough humped successfully in the 1946 Doomben Cup.
That incredible achievement came a week after the star, with 66 kilograms (10.5) had brilliantly won the £10,000 T.M. Ahern Memorial, the rich sprint that was effectively the inaugural Doomben 10,000.
Trainer Lindsay Anderson, by engaging Toowoomba claiming apprentice Joshua Morrow, has provided the grey with a four kilogram relief.
Morrow has netted five third placings from his 20 opportunities to date.
Success here would be like finding gold for the beginner who has travelled to far flung venues such as Charleville and Thangool in search of his initial triumph.
Clouds, which has a 4:3-1-0 history over the distance at Wondai, has already scored toting 66 kilograms.
The occasion was at Bundaberg last November with Jason Hoopert aboard in a Benchmark 60 affair over 1380 metres.
Morrow’s other task is to use his allowance to land the money in the Deb Frecklington MP QTIS BM 60 (1100m) with Canid.
The Benchmark template allocation for the bay is 63 kilograms but the reduction of four kilograms will be very handy.
A collection of reasons, including a shortage of jockeys that accommodated the required handicaps, led to trainer Glenn Richardson abandoning his Easter mission to Gladstone with Bel Seleva, Canid, The Amateur and Senko Sidra.
In addition to Clouds, Canid and Machu Picchu, there is a wealth of local interest with South Burnett trainers Scott Pedron, Kym Afford, Kaylene Hamilton, Kaye Hill, Tom Moloney, Kristen Wenck and Jason Livingstone all set to saddle up runners.
Gympie trainer Cherie Vick is aiming at a double challenge with Lil Ruby Red.
Longhorn’s daughter has a one-from-one record at the track and was a minor placegetter over the metric half mile at Lee Park on Saturday.
At present, with Robert Faehr as pilot, the predominantly black mare is slotted to take on Machu Picchu at 2:00pm and back up against Canid at 3:55pm.
If the rollup at Nanango on Saturday is any guide, Wondai is in for a very bouyant day.
The morning’s Anzac Day service and the afternoon at the races make for an ideal commemoration.
See you at the track!