IN his widely-read column, ‘SILKS & SADDLES,’ published by the NORTH QUEENSLAND REGISTER, respected racing writer TERRY BUTTS reports on the big crowd that turned out in terrific weather for Townsville Cup Day and the one downside which is set to end – the Liquor Licensing ban on under 18-year-olds attending.

Butts speaks with a veteran top trainer who started his interest in racing attending on Saturdays as a child. He also looks forward to the Cairns Cup meeting and warns of the dire shortage of jockeys and trainers in the north.

Here is the Butts column:

 

TOWNSVILLE CUP DAY ATTRACTS NEAR RECORD CROWD

IN the end it was simply a super day.

Dressed up patrons flocked to picture-perfect Cluden in glorious weather to celebrate Townsville Cup day.

The crowd was almost record breaking - just nudging the 2006 gate of 12000.

And according to CEO Michael Charge it was an incident-free day.

“Everything went to clockwork,” was his summation. “It couldn’t have been better.”

 

JABIRU DREAMING ENTERS RECORD BOOKS WITH CLEVELAND BAY WIN

AND what about the racing?

Jabiru Dreaming continued on his winning way adding another chapter to a fascinating story.

For a horse that couldn’t win a lowly Maiden at Beaudersert a year ago - to the north’s top sprinter.

According to a reliable report stable followers lifted $100,000 from the tote and betting ring on Saturday.

Jabiru Dreaming is the complete fairytale.

He came from the west, as they often do at this time of year and blew our best sprinters away.

Firstly in the Talbot Heatley Lightning a fortnight ago and completed the most notable double by eclipsing them all again in the time-honored Cleveland Bay.

It was truly a sterling effort.

 

JABIRU DREAMING CAPPED A BIG DAY FOR VISITORS FROM MT ISA

AND it climaxed a great day for Mt Isa horses.

Earlier Just a Touch was a gallant third in the action-packed Townsville Cup.

Amazingly, it was the third successive Cleveland Bay win for horses from the North-West.

King of the Kongo won it last year and the brilliant Heart won it in 2010.

The Cup will be remembered as the race in which punters took a surprising and costly set against the top weight Writer, who in spite of an alarming betting drift displayed all the grit and courage imaginable to win from another Rocky visitor Intertheblack.

All the good judges said Writer couldn’t get the distance. That he couldn’t with such a handicap (59kg).

But with the Rocky Cup win behind him, followed by a handy fourth in the Mackay Cup (1800m), Writer was quite clearly the form horse of the race.

And the RQL handicapper, Burdekin-bred (and former Cowboy player) Nathan Bourke got it right. Again.

There were many highlights from Townsville’s Big Day out - and none greater than the scintillating win by the local Last Chance who delivered a serious bid for the big sprint races next year.

And earned his trainer Jim Fogarty and jockey Anthony Merritt totally justified kudos for their patience and perseverance with a horse that has not been the easiest to manage during a short but brilliant career.


GOVERNMENT STANCE ON UNDER 18 ADMISSION THE DOWNSIDE OF DAY

BUT there was a dampener too provided by our stand-over Government department that encourages (under threat of hefty fines) race clubs to adopt the 18+ embargo on big race days.

But I am here to tell you it won’t be on next year.

There will not be a need for mothers to go searching for baby-sitters on Cup day because the power drunk Government agency known as Licensing and Gaming will lift its discriminatory and downright ridiculous ban.

In fact the ban was partially lifted last weekend.

Apparently the “Big Chief No Kids” actually allowed kids that were “Racing Industry aligned”- that is sons or daughters of licensees to attend.

True story!

But it was only for those who were in the know.

There are a lot of incensed people out there who were not aware of the “sudden and unannounced change of policy.”

Yet, the word was out on Friday.

Don’t worry it may not be over yet.

That D word (discrimination) has reared its head and there could be some interesting times ahead.

 

VETERAN TRAINER STARTED HIS INTEREST IN RACING AS A ‘KID’

VETERAN leading trainer Roy Chillemi approached on Saturday requesting me to”keep at them.”

He says he wouldn’t be in the game that he has mastered, if not dominated, had he not gone to the races every Saturday as a kid.

"I had no background in racing. I was just awe-struck by the atmosphere and above all the beautiful horses,” Chillemi said.

“I made it my career - and if I hadn’t gone to the races as a kid I would have been a pastry-cook or something.”

And he is so right.

Kids shouldn’t be discouraged from racecourses. It is, above all un-Australian – and quite frankly damaging to the future of the industry.

 

DISASTER LOOMS WITH DWINDLING NUMBER OF TRAINERS AND JOCKEYS

STASTISTICS clearly show a disaster looming with the dwindling numbers of licensed trainers and jockeys in North Queensland.

As it is almost every week, there will be a scramble to find enough riders for meetings at Middlemount, Bowen and Mareeba.

There is simply not enough.

Sunday racing will have to introduced on a more regular basis in the north to cater for the meetings.

And indirectly this predicament will not improve while this short sighted ban on kids attending race meetings is enforced.

Meanwhile, with the shortage as serious as it is, especially in the country, maybe it’s time for the hierarchy of RQL to start talking seriously with the former Brisbane based international jockey John Gorton who has offered dozens of young Mongolian teenage riders.

Gorton for the past few years has been teaching them to ride and his wife is teaching them English.

He says the kids are breaking their necks to be jockeys and are all set and ready to go.

“But there are no regular race meetings in Mongolia for them to compete.”

Surely it’s time to at least talk.

 

CAIRNS CUP MEETING ON SUNDAY WEEK NOW ATTRACTS NQ SPOTLIGHT

THE spotlight shifts to Cairns which will stage its Cup meeting on Sunday week with Damien Oliver the special guest.

But he is not alone in the VIP list. Melbourne trainer Tony Noonan and retired trainer Mick Robins (of Rain lover fame) will be special guests at the Calcutta luncheon on Friday at Cannon Park.

Then on Saturday the Melbourne Cup will be flown in for a community breakfast at Port Douglas followed by a helicopter trip to the outer reef.

There the Cup will be placed in a waterproof Perspex case for a unique date with the myriad Great Barrier Reef sea life. And this will be covered by a contingent of international media and videographers.

“The Cup has been to some amazing places in the past 10 years - but nothing to match this,” said VRC’s Joe McGrath who will accompany this year’s Cup ambassador Sheila Laxton (of Ethereal fame) for the Cairns sector of its annual around Australia promotion.

On arrival at the track on Sunday, Damien Oliver will circle the course in a convertible brandishing the coveted trophy for all to see.

Already the club has 3,000 bookings for Cup day.

”It will be a record two day meeting for sure,” said CEO Graham Thornton.

And why not?


COLUMN COURTESY OF TERRY BUTTS AND THE NORTH QUEENSLAND REGISTER, one of Australia's leading rural newspapers.

TERRY BUTTS can be contacted by e-mailing: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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