July 30, 2021
The Lewis Duff Memorial Handicap is the main event that opens proceedings at Wondai on Saturday, and regulars may recall that topweight Diggity scored by nine lengths with a potent display over the same course and distance last October.
Punters will not be offered any fancy odds about the sprinter that is raced by Bob and Dorothy Black, his breeder Mark Ruff and his wife Shelley.
Tom Moloney’s charge, to be handled again by the claiming apprentice Isabella Teh, took the eye with a hat-trick of wins at Gatton, Wondai and Kumbia earlier this season.
The sparingly raced five-year-old by Equiano (Fr) was not disgraced next up in tougher company at Ipswich before finishing in the middle of the pack from a very wide gate in a large field at Doomben.
Although the gelding has not appeared since running second at Warra in December, he does tick most boxes.
Meanwhile, Kelly Gates’ mount Allena will be a threat if she can recapture her autumn form.
The Zizou mare will have home track advantage and although she has not started here, she has work experience on the circuit.
After a second placing in April at Noorama in the state’s extreme south west, Chamberlain prevailed at Blackall.
The All American gelding then failed at Quilpie.
The nine-time winner was rearward when he resumed at Gympie a fortnight ago.
At his best, the galloper from Royce Connolly’s Kumbia yard is tough to toss.
Finally, Miralie is somewhat enigmatic.
The gelding is by So You Think and is the thirteenth and final foal dropped by the Golden Slipper heroine Merlene.
Despite the likes of Zabeel High Chaparral and Encosta de Lago being some of Merlene’s breeding barn mates, stakes winners have not been an outcome.
In the Stephanie Duff Memorial, the cleverly named Igbo makes his Queensland debut.
This cuddy has much in common with his stablemate Diggity.
Both were bred by Ruff, previously trained in Victoria by Michael and Luke Cerchi and sired by Equiano, the French sire that was named for Olaudah Equiano.
He was a famous writer and vigorous anti-slavery campaigner from Southern Nigeria where the people were known as Igbos.
Apparently he was kidnapped as a youth in Africa, taken to the Caribbean and sold as a slave three times before he managed to buy his freedom in 1766.
Ruff, who also is a camp-drafting enthusiast, bought Igbo’s grand-dam Irish Nova.
She produced the dual Group One New Zealand winner Sacred Star which Mark sold for $200,000 as yearling.
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Good Chances Again
Local trainer Neville “Shorty” O’Toole, his wife Denise and jockey Leeanne McCoy are seeking three in a row with A Good Chance in the Kevin Duff Memorial BM 55 Handicap.
After saluting on home sand on Anzac Day and at Burrandowan two weeks later, the three-year-old was spelled.
Positive experience on the course counts for a lot.
Hivesville mentor Lindsay Anderson also knows what it takes to be on top at Wondai.
Kentford, his acceptor for the Neal Duff Memorial BM 65 Handicap, has a 3:2-1-0 record on the track and the bay is unbeaten over the 1000 metre trip.
Interestingly, his journey on Saturday, with Hannah Richardson as pilot, will be almost 600 metres further.
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The Missed Omen Chance
Earlier this month at Wondai’s washed out meeting, the former heavyweight jockey Joshua Morrow was all set to saddle up Parlour, his first runner as a trainer.
The presence of Kathy Duff that day may have proved lucky.
After 29 losing rides during the first four testing months in the pigskin, the tall lad was victorious on The Irons in the 2019 Burrandowan Cup.
The bonus for Morrow was Duff’s hand made jewellery piece that she presents annually to the successful Cup jockey.
Kathy’s generous gesture commemorates the race day fluke that led to the marriage of her grandparents John and Dorothea Duff.
In short, to be eligible to start in the 1922 Lady’s Bracelet, John’s horse Thunderclap had to be nominated in the name of a lady.
Dorothea was the complete stranger that agreed to help out and, as they say, the rest is history.
Although weight was his perennial nemesis, Morrow travelled far and wide to compete.
Later In 2019, he battled away in arenas ranging from Mount Isa to Gladstone to Cunnamulla,
Joshua’s final throw at the stumps was aboard Eight Over when the duo finished second at Bundaberg on June 2, 2020.
His previous 49 engagements had harvested three wins, eight seconds, eight thirds and ten fourth placings.
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The International Connection
Shane McGovern is due to wear a black jacket with a white kiwi emblem when he partners Husson’s Shout, Begin and Let’s Go Champ.
The trio are prepared at Roma by his wife Kim.
With that livery, it is no surprise to learn that the couple are former New Zealanders.
They will be hoping that their visit to Wondai will be as fortunate as their introduction to Yeppoon back in October 2010.
McGovern, a former jumps jockey in the Shaky Isles, was having his first race ride in 14 years, and remarkably he booted home Bose.
Kim was also in the money. She was a part-owner of Sobeit, the winner of that day’s Newmarket for Donna Philpot.
Shane was to score on that horse at Murwillumbah in November 2011.
The McGovern’s silks are a classic fit for the day’s black and white fashion theme.
With a forecast of a sunny day and a maximum of 23 degrees, a trackside outing is an ideal way to spend Saturday afternoon.
See you at the track!