Country Stampede finalist I Am Fearless winning for Paul Hamblin at Gympie in April 2022 (Photo: Ross Stanley)

Gunsynd's Gossip

November 30, 2023

Doomben will be the centre of attention for the State’s rural racing enthusiasts this weekend.

There are a variety of interests in the $200,000 Country Cups Challenge Final (1600m) and the $105,000 Country Stampede Final (1100m) for the South Burnett fraternity.

Wondai Cup winner Vinasta is likely to jump from the extreme outside gate at the metric mile starting point. Toowoomba hoop Gary Geran will again be the pilot for the Corey and Kylie trained gelding.

Vinasta’s stablemate Sammy is the first emergency. If it does get a run, it will load to Vinasta’s immediate left.

The Gerans’ horror stretch of barrier draws continues in the Stampede with Jack Be Lucky. However, early scratchings do give their other hopeful Mahbaby its opportunity from an ideal barrier.

Glenn Richardson’s charge, the Eagle Farm winner I Am Fearless, qualified for the Stampede by scoring in the Chinchilla heat.

Karl Zechner, the Gympie-based gelding’s rider, has been aboard five times previously for two victories and a second.

The Zimbabwean born lightweight is no slouch in the pigskin.  He swept up South Africa’s Triple Crown at Turffontein in Johannesburg (ie the Guineas, the Classic and the Derby) with Abashiri in the 2015-16 season.

In late 2019, a frightening highway robbery at gunpoint that involved his wife Lauren and their infant son Declan intensified a desire to emigrate.

Zechner has also plied his trade in Mauritius, New Zealand and South Australia where he prevailed at Gawler on the 250/1 pop, De Thorn.

Tiffani Brooker, the Sunshine Coast jockey that chalked up a treble at Wondai in October, will handle Mister Larrabee, the Mackay galloper that hails from John Manzelmann’s yard.

Paul Hamblin has been engaged for Menindee in the Cups Challenge and the reserve Moscini in the Stampede.

Roma trainer Craig Smith, who collected this year’s Burrandowan Cup with Impactful, has reason to be  happy with Art By Concorde in the Cups Challenge.

The cleverly named son of Under The Louvre was spelled after his triumph for Saturday’s companion Kyle Wilson Taylor in the lucrative 2023 Battle of the Bush Final.

The five year-old, with a fine career form line of 23: 10-4-4, is unbowed this time in, courtesy of a hat trick at Emerald, Mitchell and Yeppoon and is now seeking his sixth straight win.

Art By Concorde has had four attempts at 1600 metres for a win, a second, a third and a fourth.

Wondai is playing a part in the campaign of the Cups Challenge finalist Love On Sunday. Alex Malliff, the trainer of  Mareeba’s representative, has been using the sand circuit for trackwork this week.

The Written Tycoon gelding, that is partial to soft going, has been victorious twice at Home Hill for Saturday’s partner Adrian Layt.

These conflicts with country combatants are traditionally intensely keen affairs.

Channel 7 covered last week’s Doomben program. This time around the agenda is classier.

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Hewrecked’em, with Shania Willis aboard, centre, salutes at Gympie (Photo: Paul McInally, Three Way Photos)

Unlucky For Some

Although any horse can compete in qualifiers because they are all open handicaps, candidates in the Finals must have had five country starts during the 12 months prior to November 21 and not have taken out a metropolitan race in the two past years.

Accordingly, Ruby July, Phantom Spirit and Poet’s Girl were eliminated from the Stampede line-up and were replaced by their respective runners-up.

Jack Be Lucky won qualifiers at Gympie (beating Diggity) in October and again at Roma in November. The spot he earnt in the latter of the two contests ended up going to Keenzap, the third placegetter at Roma. It has been withdrawn by Craig Smith, seemingly because of its wide marble.

It could be said that Diggity’s owners, Mark and Shelley Ruff and Bob and Dorothy Black plus trainer Tom Moloney, missed out because of chronological order.

The Ruffs have a share in Cleveland, the 2023 Melbourne Cup aspirant that passed a veterinary test late in proceedings only to be scratched afterwards because of an elevated temperature.

That let-down was eased somewhat because they were part-owners of the 2017 Cup quinella, Rekindling and Johannes Vermeer, and the 2020 winner Twilight Payment.

The team was partially compensated when Igbo was first home first up at Gympie last weekend.

Wondai trainer Kristen Roon deserves plenty of praise for the productive efforts she has made with Hewrecked’em, the lightly raced cuddy that was also on Gympie’s winners’ list.

The Holy Roman Empire (Ire) gelding that shed its maiden tag at Eidsvold in October fired up and never settled at home at his next assignment.

Along the way, Roon has tinkered with the bay’s head gear by using ear muffs only for the pre-race period and removing blinkers.

While all wins bring joy, there is extra satisfaction when obstacles have been overcome.

Congratulations also go to Jandowae trainer Geoffrey Schrader for preparing Barrymore for its Charleville Cup success on Melbourne Cup day.

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Rodney Hay with Villaden, as Tamara Noble unsaddles their 2023 Kumbia Cup winner (Photo: Ross Stanley)

Sun Is Shining For Hay

Another positive story involves Rodney Hay, the Chinchilla horseman who saddled up the recent Kumbia Cup victor Villaden.

That success was very special for jockey Tamara Noble. She grew up at Blackbutt and was based at Kumbia for around six months before shifting to Toowoomba. She is indentured to Troy Pascoe.

Hay’s livery is a familiar sight across a wide range of racetracks. For example, the silks went around 18 times at the spring meetings at Birdsville and Bedourie with the long-time Taroom identity greeting winners on three occasions.

Meanwhile, Hay is having profound fun with Astapor, a juvenile colt by the freshman stallion Tassort that cost $38,000 and has already banked $113,000 including QTIS bonuses totalling  $33,000.

His name is derived from his sire’s dam Essaouira, a Moroccan city that is known as Tassort in a Berber language. The word refers to the fortress walls that originally enclosed the place that has provided scenes for the Game Of Thrones series.

The Clinton Taylor-trained youngster has comprehensively justified his hot favouritism at his two appearances to date at home in Rockhampton and then last Saturday at Doomben.

Hay has reportedly shown no interest in a $1 million bid for his impressive rookie that is still on a learning curve. Tassort’s daughter, Manaa,l quickly nailed black type for his first crop by annexing the 2023 ATC Gimcrack Stakes.

Astapor is currently having a freshen up before being set for a crack at the Magic Millions Classic in January.

By coincidence, the Kembla Grange filly, West of Dalby, is engaged at Doomben on Saturday in the Mode Stakes. The daughter of the Exceed And Excel mare, Chinchilla, is adept on soft and heavy surfaces.


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