By Tony McMahon
Brisbane jockey Beau-Dene Appo currently based in Rockhampton seems to making a habit of being in the right place at the right time.
However, as luck would have it, Appo went all too close to being in the wrong place at the wrong time when riding an international Invitation Stakes winner in Wuhan, China last December.
“How lucky was I,” Appo more or less stated than questioned when relating the tale during a break from riding track work at Callaghan Park racecourse on Friday.
Appo, the son of former well-known Queensland jockey Lyall Appo, re-located from Brisbane in mid-April to be based in Rockhampton and ride at meetings in the Central Queensland under the designated racing regions model.
He has made an impression, booting home three winners – Only Wanna Sing, Pound For Pound and Heyington at Callaghan Park’s TAB races last Tuesday.
“I decided to come up here as I mainly ride in Toowoomba which had been my bread and butter,” Appo explained.
“However, with many of the leading Brisbane jockeys riding there with the restrictions in force, I reasoned opportunities were more plentiful here and at Mackay.”
It was sound reasoning for Appo, 27, who has ridden some 350 winners with the majority being in South East Queensland and his fair share in Brisbane.
“I’ve always enjoyed riding at Callaghan Park as it is a very unbiased track – horses can lead or come from behind," he recalled.
"Really, they all get their chance - I rode a lot of winners here when apprenticed to Mick Lakey in Brisbane.”
From a family of horsemen and jockeys which includes father Lyall, uncle Bradley and relative Brendan, it was a given that Appo had the genes to follow suit.
By the way his sister, Lyndsey, sits on the other side of the horse being a steward with QRIC in Brisbane.
“Dad insisted first that I get a good education that I could fall back on in case things didn’t work out for me jockeying.
I did that and then he helped me all the way to get into jockeying. I’m lucky as I can walk around at 53kg so that makes it easie,” Appo said modestly.
Champing at the bit, I just had to get Appo to take me back to Wuhan – metaphorically speaking of course to which he complied.
“I was chosen along with another Queenslander, Jackson Murphy, to be one of 12 jockeys representing a host of nations in an international invitational race there in December,” Appo said.
“It really was an eyeopener.
“The racetrack is of sand and is bigger than Randwick racecourse, it is massive - everything over there is huge.
"The population of Wuhan is over eight million, the Chinese officials really looked after me and all the other international visiting jockeys - it was a thrilling with all the build-up.”
It was about to get even better.
“They told the jockeys if they won the race to salute the crowd and would you believe that’s what happened as I rode the winner Feitan,” he said.
“It jumped and I rode it to the lead and it went on to win the 1100 metres sprint on the sand by 23 lengths.”
I thought he was pulling my leg, so I blurt out, ‘are you serious?’
“Yes I am. I’ll show you the video,” Appo kicked-in.
That he did on his mobile Al Capone and true to his word, Appo and Feitan won by that staggering margin.
“I am not sure what the prize money for the race was but it had to be significant as I think for memory my riding fee and percentages amounted to about $3000,” Appo said before reiterating just how lucky he was with COVID-19 coming to Wuhan not that long after riding there.
Shaking his head and delivering a genuine smile Appo laughed it off.
While luck's worth a fortune in racing, sometimes individuals are instrumental in bringing about their own good luck.
That’s exactly what Appo has done in temporarily moving north to Rockhampton.
It well may continue at the TAB races at Mackay tomorrow where he has a full book of rides.
“I’ll go home to Brisbane when all the protocols are over but I want to become a regular riding at Rocky and Mackay TAB meetings and I’m prepared to even drive up,” he said.
“The racing is strong and the prize money good.”