By Glenn Davis
The biggest week in central Queensland racing commences at Rockhampton’s Callaghan Park this week with the running of the Newmarket Handicap and Rockhampton Cup.
The Newmarket Handicap (1300m) carries $100,000 in prizemoney and will be run on Friday while the city’s main feature the Rockhampton Cup (1600m) is worth $150,000 and will be held on Saturday.
The Newmarket Handicap is the first leg of the Northern Crown sprint series while the Rockhampton Cup opens the Northern Crown series for the stayers.
Last year’s winner Peacock is among the Newmarket nominations but is now trained by Tom Button who has taken over from Beaudesert’s Di Murphy.
Mamselle Corday won last year’s Rockhampton Cup and will attempt back-to-back wins for trainer Tony McMahon.
The Newmarket Handicap has received a total of 23 nominations spearheaded by the Darryl Hansen-trained Monsieur Gustave and Steve Tregea’s Niccanova who are the equal highest raters in the race.
Tregea also entered Prioritise for the Newmarket.
The Rockhampton Cup received 21 nominations with Niccanova, the highest rater, spearheading a three-pronged attack from Tregea along with stablemates Bergerac and Prioritise.
“All three and a few others from the stable will definitely be going up but I’ll wait and see before deciding which races they contest,” Tregea said.
Niccanova didn’t contest last year’s Rockhampton Cup but did finish sixth to Peacock in last year’s Newmarket Handicap.
Hansen has been a regular visitor to the central and north Queensland winter carnivals for many years.
As well as Monsieur Gustave in the Newmarket, Hansen has nominated Balboa Rocks, winner of the Listed Sunshine Coast Cup in January, for the Rockhampton Cup.
Both races have attracted strong interest from local trainers as well as a number from Brisbane including leading trainer Tony Gollan who has a big team of 15 horses nominated for the two-day carnival.
Natch and Snitch, two promising sprinters from the Gollan stable, are nominated for the Newmarket while Gollan’s sole Rockhampton Cup runner will be Silvera.
Racing Queensland webnews July 2