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Mary Hassam’s Queen stars in Rocky

By Tony McMahon

The rapport that co-exists between horse and rider has been documented throughout time.

It was on display again at Rockhampton’s Callaghan Park racecourse last Friday when a little bay thoroughbred mare and her sprightly trainer greeted each other in the winners’ stall.

There was the six-year-old mare Daunting Queen - a model of consistency - and her 72-year-old trainer Mary Hassam basking - albeit humbly - in the sense of achievement a race win evokes.

Mary, of slender build and looking as fit as a fiddle, would have fooled everyone if she divulged being ten years younger.

“I’ll be 73 next birthday and I still ride my four horses trackwork each morning,” she said.

“Hard to get track riders at Bundaberg so I do them all myself.”

Riding racehorse’s track work requires skill, fitness, technique and talent and far more than basic horsemanship - or to be politically correct in Mary’s case horsewoman ship - all qualities of which Mary is capably proficient.

Mary and her loyal stable hand Phil Gattenby are accustomed to working with Daunting Queen on race day and better still to be regulars with her in the number one stall post-race.

Friday’s win in the $18,500 1400-metre Follow Us On Facebook Open was Daunting Queen’s 11th race win and her eighth at Callaghan Park.

Dropping back from being allotted 60kg from her previous third at Callaghan Park on December 5, she much appreciated the minimum weight of 54kg.

The featherweight under Matthew McGillivray in the saddle made all the difference as she finished on strongly to beat Mason’s Chance and the gutsy Absolut Artie - who lumped 63.5kg and was only one length away.

McGillivray has enjoyed a successful association with Daunting Queen, dating back to March 2019 where the pair have shared four wins.

In hindsight, it was indeed a good training effort on Mary’s part to have Daunting Queen superbly fit for the 1400-metre race as the mare had not started for 55 days.

Not only is Mary Hassam the track work rider and trainer of Daunting Queen, but she is also the Daunting Lad mare’s breeder and co-owner.

Daunting Queen dropped into Mary’s life on August 14, 2014 and the girls have rarely been apart since.

They have gone to the races together on 37 occasions sharing in 11 wins and 17 placings for returns of $145,750.

Mary’s association with Daunting Queen’s family goes back over a decade as she was also the servant to her mother, Queen Of Happiness which won three Rockhampton races during 2010 and 2011.

The family ties run even deeper as Mary Hassam has Daunting Queen’s full sister, a juvenile named Daunting Princess and another unnamed relative.

It seems there will be no idle time for Mary in the immediate years to come but then again, she finds it undaunting - and given her passion why not?

Visiting jockeys dominated last Friday, winning seven of the eight races and only for Ashley Butler winning on Jim Rundle’s Shemademedoit it would have been a wipe-out for the locals.

The Hall family’s Capricornia Yearling Sale graduate which they bred and race in the Instinction mare Boss Baby won her fifth race by claiming the 1050-metre BM 70 for trainer Pater Fleming and Justin Stanley.

At Mackay 24 hours earlier, another from Rockhampton’s CYS of 2019 in Princess Rules won her fourth race elevating her prize money to $118,000.

This year’s Sale will be held in Rockhampton on Sunday, April 11.