March 19, 2021
Small fields have a reputation for throwing up surprises and turning on close finishes.
The Heritage Bank Nanango Benchmark 55 Handicap at Lee Park last month followed that script.
Little Drummer Boy, prepared at Gympie by his owner Barry Gill, was a $7.50 pop that was not given a hope by punters. The six-year-old’s 43 previous runs had yielded a Caloundra Maiden win in January 2019 and eight placings.
The odds about the Drumbeats gelding’s prospects lengthened when Robert Faehr tried to rev him up with a rat-ta-tat-tat with the whip after travelling only a quarter of the 1600 metre journey.
However, the strategy did keep the bay in striking distance of the leaders and he finished with determination to snatch a short half head edge over the Mark Currie-trained Unresolved ($2 favourite) in a thrilling climax.
Three weeks later, this time with Kelly Gates in the saddle, Little Drummer Boy ($5.50) hit the right note in the same grade against four rivals over 1470 metres on his home track. He just scraped in again as an outsider.
It is fascinating to contemplate the ongoing benefits for some horses when they get a breakthrough and their confidence grows. Some also relish having few opponents!
Meanwhile, Wondai trainer Kym Afford has chalked up his fourth success for 2021, courtesy of Rockshore (Natalie Morton,$4) at Gympie and Gossiaux (Shannyn Stephan,$5) at Bundaberg.
* * *
Honourable Mention For South Burnett Duo
To celebrate International Women’s Day earlier this month, Racing Queensland recognised the efforts of 10 hard-working ladies from around the State and across the three codes.
The contributions by South Burnett Race Club’s modest worker Christiene Nettelfield were acknowledged with her selection in the diverse and valued group.
RQ indicated that “Christiene, until recently, fulfilled the role as Club Secretary for the South Burnett Race Club.
“As Secretary, in addition to fulfilling the prescribed role, Christiene also developed Marquee Packages which have proved incredibly popular in attracting new patrons to the local races.
“Christiene has also enhanced the local Fashions of the Field by personally sponsoring the events to ensure the interests of newly attracted patrons are also catered for.”
Nettelfield, who has participated as an owner-trainer, also helped establish the Monica Ryan Trophy as a means of celebrating the achievements of local female riders.
She has made a fine contribution to the cause of thoroughbred welfare by providing a lifetime home for horses such as Fusette, Leica Fuse, Talk Back, Lucstana, Sympathise, Navillus Cannimiss, Jungle Jim and Papaver when their racing days were over.
RQ also pointed out the present status of female jockeys.
“As the Country Premiership currently stands, Nanango’s Hannah Richardson sits atop with women making up six of the Top 10 across the State.”
Hannah Phillips is one of 12 women in the Top 20. As at March 18, Richardson leads the way with 22 wins from 124 engagements.
Dan McIllivray, with 20 victories from 141 opportunities, sits in second place.
* * *
Hendra Virus Alert
The Queensland Racing Integrity Commission is urging all horse owners and trainers to review their horses’ Hendra vaccine status.
The Commission’s Veterinary Services and Animal Welfare Director Dr Martin Lenz said the recent discovery of a new strain of HeV (Hendra virus) meant all owners and trainers should ensure their horses’ vaccinations were up-to-date.
“Australian researchers have found a new strain of the deadly Hendra virus by comparing samples from flying foxes and a dead horse, and it could mean that breeds of flying foxes not previously thought to play a major role in transmitting Hendra virus could be carrying a new strain. Those areas previously deemed as low risk may face a higher risk,” Dr Lenz said.
“These areas include locations in Queensland where grey-headed flying foxes predominate.”
In an ABC news report on March 10, Dr Peter Reid – a veterinary scientist with the Australian Veterinary Association – said the areas included parts of Queensland and NSW where black flying foxes live, and North Queensland where spectacled flying foxes are found.
Dr Reid played a vital role in the 1994 outbreak that claimed the life of Hendra trainer Vic Rail.
All up, four people have died and more than a 100 horses have perished due to this virus.
It’s timely to point out that horses should not be feeding under fruiting trees where bats might be living, and that personal protective equipment be used when handling ailing horses.
* * *
Racing Diary Reminders
- Nanango – Easter Saturday, March 3
- Wondai – Anzac Day, April 25
- Burrandowan – May 8
* * *