By Tony McMahon
Race club president Gary Hall admitted that he was “pleasantly stunned” when a record crowd of well over 3000 attended Saturday’s colossal Yeppoon Cup meeting at Keppel Park racecourse.
Officials were expecting a sizeable crowd of a “few thousand” as a record number of 70 mini-sized “marquees” accommodating 1000 patrons had been pre-booked.
“We were expecting I suppose over 2000 people but never in our wildest dreams did we believe well over 3000 would be at Keppel Park. Afterall, the races clashed with the Oktoberfest down here so we were actually stunned by the turnout. I have never seen anything like that crowd at Keppel Park before”, Hall said.
The well behaved and colourful crowd of mixed ages were in a thirsty and hungry mood as YTC officials made no fewer than six trips into Yeppoon to replenish beverage and food supplies.
“It was really unbelievable. Each trip we made we thought we were over ordering fresh supplies but we were proven wrong. It was a great day and I must record thanks especially to the volunteers who worked the kitchen as they just never stopped fulfilling orders. It was a massive day for the club and a huge compliment from patrons as to the popularity of racing at Keppel Park”, Hall said on Saturday night.
Saturday’s Yeppoon figures added to Rockhampton’s St Peters Day races (October 20) and Gladstone’s Cox Plate Day last Saturday, means almost 10,000 people had gone racing at those three venues.
That is unprecedented and justifies claims that the racing industry in Central Queensland injects massive funds into the region’s economy.
On the track at Keppel Park, the jockey’s “Birthday Boy” Thomas Doyle and “Queen of the Skies” Sonja Wiseman claimed the riding honours with a double each.
Doyle, 21 last Saturday provided himself and punters with a birthday present winning on Peter Fleming’s $4.00 shot Falvera (Class B, 950m) and the Country and Yeppoon Cups Challenge Qualifier (1400m) on Ricky Vale’s San Vincenzo ($3.20).
San Vincenzo (b/br g 6 So You Think (NZ)-Stage Beauty x Desert Prince (IRE)) is one of the best-bred horses racing in Queensland and cost Paul Moroney Bloodstock $310,000 as a Magic Millions yearling in 2015.
Never living up to his pedigree or sale price and subsequently resold, since moving to the Vale stable, the gelding has been consistent.
As a consequence of the Yeppoon win, San Vincenzo is an automatic qualifier for the $105,000 Country Cups Challenge (1600m) at Doomben on November 30.
Sonya Wiseman flew back into Rockhampton from a Bali holiday last Friday and was quickly back to work winning the Maiden (950m) on Adrian Coome trained Miraculous ($1.80) and the BM 50 (1400m) on Magic Scene ($4.20).
Magic Scene is trained by resident Keppel Park trainer Clinton Thompson.
Wiseman, an experienced and widely travelled jockey has recently relocated to Rockhampton and is an excellent addition to the dwindling riding ranks in the city.
Just 20 hours after winning at Keppel Park, Sonya was riding at the Cairns TAB races on Sunday.
This necessitated a flight from Rockhampton to Brisbane and then to Cairns on Sunday morning from where she will repeat the reverse flights Monday so as to be able to ride at both Gladstone and Rockhampton races Tuesday.
Ellie Smith rode her sixth winner in just over a week when the Rockhampton Jockey Club (RJC) syndicate horse Arjaycee ($3.00) won the QTIS Memories of David Hall Maiden (1300m).
Arjaycee pronounced RJC, was the easiest winner on the Yeppoon card romping home by 3.5 lengths.
Arjaycee cost just $2000 at last year’s Capricornia Yearling Sales in Rockhampton and is a fine example of the cost analogy that “good things come in small packages”.
Ellie Smith won’t be riding at the RJC’s Melbourne Cup Day races Tuesday because of trainee teaching studies as she is completing her Bachelor of Education studies.
Smith relocates to Emerald at the end of this year from where she will be permanently based but plans to continue race riding at Rockhampton TAB meetings until the end of the 2019/20 season.