December 20, 2021
As Les “Bubba” Tilley approached the Doomben winning post on the back of V.J. Day earlier this month, he expressed his primary thoughts by pointing skywards.
Under normal circumstances, victory in the important Country Stampede Final would have been utterly gratifying.
However, this city success for the boy from the bush was dedicated to his fellow jockey Michael Caserta, the young rider who drowned in the surf at the Gold Coast.
The gesture was a reminiscent of the high key intensity that enveloped Damien Oliver when he triumphed over internal adversity on Media Puzzle in the 2002 Melbourne Cup.
On Monday, October 29 that year, Oliver’s brother Jason perished when his mount broke both forelegs during a trial at Perth’s Belmont course.
Subsequently, an anti-inflammatory drug was detected in the juvenile’s system.
Somehow Damien found an impenetrable zone and absorbed all the pressure for the 3 minutes and 20 seconds it took to run the Cup eight days later.
He was wearing his brother’s breeches.
The strain was magnified by the fact that his father Ray lost his life when Yandanooka and four other gallopers crashed in the Boulder Cup at Kalgoorlie in 1975 when Damien was just three and Jason was five.
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Sharryn Is In The Picture
English artist Norman Thelwell published his first pony cartoon way back in 1953.
Since then, generations of horse fans, particularly females, have enjoyed his humorous sketches.
Sharryn Livingstone, who has helped out as a clerk of the course at Nanango, has entered a Bel Esprit gelding named after the famous cartoonist in the $250,000 Bruce McLachlan Stakes at Doomben on Boxing Day.
Thelwell is facing hot opposition, particularly in the shape of Coolangatta, the eye catching winner of this season’s Gimcrack Stakes at Randwick.
However the son of the Not A Single Doubt mare Di Maria was far from disgraced when fourth, less than three lengths behind the boom colt Palazzo Spirit in the Listed Phelan Ready Stakes at Eagle Farm on December 11.
The bay had finished third on debut at Doomben and is deserving of a throw at the stumps in this upcoming feature contest.
This season, Livingstone, who works a small team at Deagon, has saddled up just four individual horses. Collectively, they have had 17 starts for five wins, three seconds and two thirds.
Iolite has been the star, with three victories at Caloundra and one at the Gold Coast while Heart Vandelay prevailed at Kilcoy.
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Burnett To The Beach Now Half Way
Earlier this month the Nanango leg of the Burnett to the Beach Series was washed out.
Kym Afford’s charge Modern Family, with Morgan Butler aboard, moved to the top of the table by securing the fifth heat at Esk last Saturday.
The ten points took the horse’s total to 28.
Afford’s other starter Mr Maharaj picked up a point so Afford’s tally is now 42.
The Wondai trainer certainly has a healthy score on the board at this stage.
Trainer David Reynolds and jockey Lilli Barr also made ground courtesy of Happy Frank, the fifth horse home. The duo have posted 25 and 18 points respectively
Kelly Gates, with her third placing on Space Is Deep, now has a one point lead over Shannyn Stephen (20).
Bob Murray and Kristen Roon were not represented at Esk and stay on 22 points.
These results are subject to official confirmation.
The remaining opportunities are scheduled for Gympie (March 5, 2022), Monto (March 26), Wondai (Anzac Day) and Burrandowan (May 7). A week later, Bundaberg provides the final chance.
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Changes In The City
A useful practice developed during the main period of COVID19 restrictions seems to be here to stay.
Traditionally, trainers legged their jockeys up in the enclosure, and the runners then paraded in numerical order before heading to the start.
These days in town (and probably elsewhere), the strapper places their runner into order and a couple of attendants now do the hoisting while the candidates continue walking.
This streamlined approach is smoother and safer.
Another increasingly common post-race practice is for the trainers to record the comments of the jockeys on their phones and transmit the clip to the owners.
Happy Christmas to all!