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Apprentices rule at popular Yeppoon meeting

By Tony McMahon

The Yeppoon Turf Club completed the “big trifecta” of successful Capricornia country race meetings last Saturday with a huge turnout of over 2000 racegoers at picturesque Keppel Park racecourse.

This followed massive crowds attending over the two previous Saturdays at the Middlemount Cup races on August 4 and at Ferguson Park racecourse Gladstone for the Cup meeting there on August 11.

Coastal racegoers packed the parkland facilities at Keppel Park which were filled with marquees while interesting spectators along the perimeter of the infield lake included curious pelicans and an assortment of bird life.

It was somewhat eerie actually as just after 3pm when the crowd had broken into spontaneous applause after Winx had recorded a record 26 consecutive wins some 1447km away at Randwick, as if on cue, the birdlife took to the air.

Rarely these days do race crowds become so animated and vociferous in their applause about a horse race, so it was a sight to behold and hear at Keppel Park.

Once again apprentice jockeys claimed the riding honours with Lachlan Dodds snaring a double (Ararrac and Plain’N’Simple) with Thomas Doyle (Rockethead - $3.00) and Elyce Smith (Quadacus -$3.00) thus winning the first four races.

It was left to South-East Queensland jockey, the gentlemanly David Hayse to restore some pride to the senior ranks by winning the last race, the Class B (1400m) on the John O’Sing trained Top Echelon gelding Scutari ($5.00).

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The common thread woven by all winners was that they either led in their races or were placed very close right-up on the speed on a day when backmarkers rarely made ground on the fast track rated a Good 3.

Ararrac ($5.00) named after his sire Carrara spelt backwards, set the leaders trend with an all-the-way win in the opener, the Class 2 Plate (950m) for former top Yeppoon trainer but now hobby mentor Allan Jenkinson.

Formerly based at Keppel Park from where he operated a big string of horses for about 25 years, these days Jenkinson trains his two horses at another location at Yeppoon.

“I work my horses on the best track of them all – the beach”, he divulged after attending to Ararrac with his wife Christine with whom he raced the winner’s mother Red Testa.

Lachlan Dodds provided another superbly paced-judged front running ride when he delivered Rockhampton mentor Julieann Lancaster’s game little Casino Prince gelding Plain’N’Simple to the finish first in the Benchmark 55 (1800m).

Turned-out in fine fettle by Julieann, Plain’N’Simple whose looks and zest for racing defies his age of eight years, was backing-up just four days after being beaten in a photo-finish for first over the same distance at Mackay.

“You have to just love him. The little fella just tries his heart out”, the excited trainer said.

Tough with a capital “T’’ perfectly described Mackay trainer John Manzelmann’s Warhead filly Rockethead (Thomas Doyle) who collected $9800 for winning the QTIS 3YO Maiden (950m).

Rockethead was runner-up at Middlemount on August 4 before being third placed at Cairns on the following Saturday, August 11.

Which means Rockethead had been floated 2300km in the fortnight preceding her Yeppoon win which amounted to about 25 hours in float transit – yes, she like most of the marauding Manzelmann trained horses are indeed tough!

John Manzelmann was represented by Jade Doolan at Keppel Park as 960km north he prepared a winning double at Prairie races while he had no luck with his five starters at the corresponding Innisfail races on Saturday.

The family and friends of leading Rockhampton apprentice jockey Elyce Smith were on hand en masse to cheer home her winner Quadacus prepared by her father Frederick.

The win was the icing on the cake for a pre-birthday celebration at Yeppoon on Saturday night for Elyce’s 21st birthday which falls today. MONDAY

The Maiden (1200m) win wasn’t without drama as it wasn’t official until a protest by close second placegetter Twist Edgeroi (John Stephens) was denied by stewards.

The Yeppoon Turf Club now has a break until it’s next race meeting at Keppel Park on Victoria Derby Day on Saturday, November 3.