Hannah Phillips and Hannah Richardson, two outstanding South Burnett riders who are meeting the demands of racing under COVID-19 restrictions (Photo: Ross Stanley)

Gunsynd's GossipMay 5, 2020

Apparently the words favour and grace are two meanings of Hannah, a name with Hebrew origins.

The South Burnett is very fortunate that jockeys Hannah Richardson and Hannah Phillips continue to favour racing with both their sterling work and gracious personalities.

During their apprenticeships, the pair quickly displayed their professionalism, dedication and self-discipline.

The duo really covered the miles, travelling extensively to ply their trade and to assist trainers by trackwork riding at various venues.

There are many highly-paid sportsmen who are not in their league when it comes to attitude, respectfulness and humility.

They have also taken up the recently-imposed challenge of the zoning system.

A particular example was their effort to sport silk at Roma on April 18 and at Bundaberg the very next day.

On the previous weekend they had ridden at Charleville.

* * *

Despite the reduced opportunities created by the zoning system, both ladies chalked up six wins during April.

Phillips scored at Bundaberg on the $51 chance Gossiaux for the Kym Afford yard.

The sprinter, on that occasion, pinged the gates, got its own way in the run and so avoided facing the sand kickback.

The stablemate, the Reizarb filly After The Storm, registered her fourth victory from her last six outings.

Anzac Day at Dalby was a mixed bag for Richardson.

She landed a double with Patrick Sexton’s charge Vermutin ($18) and the $3.20 favourite Wait A Minute for Matt Kropp.

That winner made contact with the inside barrier petition on jumping and injured Richardson’s right foot.

Luckily, Hannah made a quick recovery.

* * *

Richardson and Kropp unsuccessfully applied to have Spirit’s First declared a non-runner in the Dawn Service BM 45 Handicap, claiming it was denied a fair start.

It was established “that a barrier attendant did have hold of the mare’s head in the barriers”.

Stewards were of the opinion “that Spirit’s First had become fractious just prior to the start and, as a result, began awkwardly and lost ground.”

The panel deemed that the loss of ground was solely attributable to the horses own barrier manners.

There is more than a week gap between the Anzac Day program at Dalby and the May 5 offering at Bundaberg, but that Tuesday program seems certain to face a rider shortage.

Initially, jockeys could ride in two adjacent zones. Currently, Phillips and Richardson are part of the limited squad that are available for Dalby and Bundaberg.

Furthermore, they can only help out with track duties at one nominated course.

On Friday, Racing Queensland opened up the allowable level of interactions between the two key Metropolitan zones.

In short – on race days – jockeys, trainers and strappers can operate in their “away from home” zone.

This move is clearly designed to make the winter carnival a more workable scenario.

For example, Chris Waller’s aspirants housed at the team’s Gold Coast base would have needed to travel solo when taken to race in the neighbouring zone at Eagle Farm.

Jockeys and trainers would have been restricted to either the race days at Brisbane and Sunshine Coast tracks or at the Gold Coast, Toowoomba and Ipswich.

Visiting jockeys and horses will now be separated on course from the host zone’s participants.

It is disappointing that South East Queensland Country is not part of the changes.

Roma is barely out of the zone. Its inclusion would create more meetings for yards in the South Burnett and other areas.

The traffic would be much less than the bustling metro districts will generate and so the odds of Covid-19 being transmitted in the rural setting would arguably be lower.

Having said that, most industry players are very glad that they are still in action.

When compared to others in the community, the turf world has had a lucky run to date.

Fingers are crossed that no licensee tests positive to Covid-19 as restrictions are gradually eased.

* * *

The Protocols

All personnel attending Bundaberg meetings are temperature checked at the gate and issued with a wristband.

Social distancing for jockeys is well catered for – each rider has their own esky, table and chair in the pavilion.

They also clean their personal gear during the day, and communal items such as saddlecloths are also disinfected.

Hannah Phillips has noticed that horses have reacted differently to the absence of spectators.

Some have been more relaxed and performed better while others have possibly missed the usual race day atmosphere and been less competitive.

One thought is that horses get to know the different rituals.

The likes of Winx seemed to be aware when she was just barrier-trialling and did not bother trying to unleash the requirements of an actual engagement.

Stay safe!

Footnote: Apologies for the inclusion of an image in the previous edition of Gunsynd’s Gossip that was incorrectly labelled as being a photograph of Fred Freeman. This error was corrected as soon as I was notified about it.

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