June 22, 2023
Diggity is off to Eagle Farm for Saturday’s $200,000 Battle of the Bush final.
Trainer Tom Moloney, his fellow Burrandowan stalwarts Bob and Dorothy Black and a Victorian construction company head Mark Ruff and his wife Shelley, will be represented by the Equiano gelding.
The 16-strong Battle of the Bush final line-up is comprised of aspirants from all parts of the State.
Ruff, a campdrafting enthusiast who worked at Colin Little’s stables during his student days, conducts his thoroughbred breeding operations on a large set-up at Diggers’ Rest near Melbourne.
The Ruffs have already fried bigger fish. In 2017, they had shares in Rekindling and Johannes Vermeer. The internationals, with Lloyd Williams as their main owner, were prepared respectively by Joseph O’Brien and his father Aidan when they ran first and second in the 2017 Melbourne Cup.
Amazingly, they were in the same limelight when Joseph O’Brien’s charge Twilight Payment saluted in another Melbourne Cup. That was the 2020 renewal when no crowds were in attendance because of the COVID pandemic.
Mark Ruff had tasted Group One glory earlier courtesy of the 2015 Telegraph Handicap victory at Trentham by Sacred Star, a Flying Spur gelding he bred with his O’Reilly mare Irish Nova.
Ruff’s pattern has been to kick off with his beginners’ campaigns with Mick and Luke Cerchi at Flemington. Horses that find the southern competition too tough have been sent up to Moloney and the Blacks.
Irish Nova’s grandson Igbo, Diggity and Ultra Instinct, a winner at Gayndah and Gympie earlier this month, have been successful examples.
Diggity, a city mount from gate 10 for Gemma Steele this weekend, secured his Battle of the Bush final spot by taking out the qualifier that was transferred to Wandoan following the washout at Jandowae.
Although the sprinter has scored on the sand and dirt, he has also been on top at five different grass tracks.
Andrew Mallyon will pilot the Jason Judge-trained Hard Stride, the qualifier from the Gympie round that is a month away from the compulsory retirement age of 13.
The ex-Victorian gelding by Street Sense (USA) from Hard Rider (NZ) prevailed at Caulfield and Flemington in his younger days. The old boy goes into the race with a 124: 18-18-15 career record.
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Bits And Bridles
- Trainer Adam Briskey deserves a pat on the back for the improvement in Beeokay, the Elzaam eight-year-old he part owns. He is the sixth mentor for the former southerner that has picked up three wins and four placings from his last 13 outings.
- Lyall Appo, the Chinchilla postman who a long-time regular rider in the Burnett, caught up with a multiple Group One winning jockey in Greg Hall at Burrandowan last month. Miralie, the So You Think gelding from Hall’s Golden Slipper heroine Merlene, gave a great sight there that day.The $4.80 chance finished the bravest of seconds for Shania Willis. Appo confirmed that he is working on a return to the saddle. The veteran certainly has the determination to achieve his ambition.
- The dust has settled on the Burnett to the Beach series. Bundaberg galloper Jamesatelli was the top horse. His trainer Gary Clem finished second in his category to Bob Murray with Kym Afford in third spot. Shania Willis flashed home to beat Kelly Gates by a mere point with Landan Sykes next on the ladder. The respective prizes were $6600; $3300 and $1100.
- Gympie trainer Glenn Richardson bounced back into the winners’ list last Saturday, courtesy of a double at Gympie with Northern Woods and Rainbow Dreams.
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A Week To Wondai
The South Burnett Race Club’s next meeting is on Saturday, 1 July.
Racegoers are reminded that the Black and White is the theme for the GH Clothing Co- sponsored Fashions on the Field.
Coincidentally, Diggity’s livery is a black jacket with white braces and a black and white striped cap.
The trackside marquees sold out last time so it’s best to book and pay as soon as possible.
Tables of ten cost just $50.The Grazing Platters are $30 each.
Orders and bookings are available by phoning 0418-916-646. Remember, there’s no on-course ATM facility.
Footnote: The Battle of the Bush is the fourth on the card (at 1:28pm) in Brisbane on Saturday.