By Tony McMahon
They were like bees to the honeypot as over 4000 people swarmed onto Rockhampton’s Callaghan Park racecourse last Saturday celebrating all things good about horse racing.
Well behaved, colourful and jovial, the crowd enthused a feel-good aura which became contagious bringing together the largest mix of young and old Callaghan Park has hosted for many a long year.
Rockhampton Jockey Club CEO Tony Fenlon echoed those sentiments describing the annual St Peters School Caulfield Cup Day race meeting as a “fantastic arvo”.
“Everything about it was good. I suppose a measuring stick which may seem unusual could be gauged by the fact that I did not receive one complaint about the race meeting itself.
It was so good to see thousands of people enjoying themselves on the racecourse and milling around to see the horses”, Fenlon said.
There was nobody more overjoyed than Yeppoon’s Adrienne McCosker, the owner and breeder of courageous grey mare Miss De Mirage (aka Diva).
Displaying “courage under fire” so to speak, Diva under the perseverance of apprentice jockey Thomas Doyle, weaved her way through the tightly bunched field to get up and for a narrow win the $15K Class 3 (1200m).
Turning what for most of the passage along the long straight looked like imminent defeat, the John Wigginton trained Miss De Mirage ($2.15) demonstrated the natural competitive tenacity of a genuine thoroughbred athlete.
Adrienne’s spontaneous reaction in and around the winner’s stall on Miss De Mirage’s return was a joy to behold as she stroked and cuddled Diva in an emotional display of her love for the mare.
“This is just so wonderful. She is so beautiful and to breed and own a winner is something so special”, Adrienne enthused.
It was a similar scene after the Adrian Coome trained Cavellton (Brad Pengelly, $1.30) bungled the start but some how arrived just in the nick of time to win the Class 4 Plate by a nose.
The win under such adverse race circumstances, can mainly be attributed to the experience of Pengelly.
He refused to panic and bustle Cavellton when the Your Song gelding tailed-out early but instead allowed him to become balanced before gradually urging forward.
As Cavellton responded to the kind touch, Pengelly only resorted to pressure him over the last 150 metres from where stride by stride he wore down The Deckeraider (David Simmons, $31.00) for a nose victory.
Pengelly, a jockey who twice has ridden four winners in an afternoon at Royal Randwick as well as five apiece at Taree and Caloundra race meetings, shunned the deserved praise while Cavellton’s owners rallied around.
Part-owner, Gladstone’s Sharon Thomsen is trainer Adrian Coome’s biggest fan rattling off stats achieved by him since taking out his trainers’ brief last October.
“Adrian has won 10 races for horses I have owned as well as getting nine seconds for us and four thirds. How good is that”? Sharon said more in the line of a statement than a question.
Sharon Thomsen just adores her horses and is involved in the ownership along with other women and friends in six horses in Coome’s care.
It has been a big few days for Adrian Coome who now has 22 horses in training as he was awarded the Australian Trainers Association Rising Star Award for Queensland trainers earlier in the week.
Poetic justice, a close relation to good karma prevailed when the Tim Cook trained Magic Albert gelding Conca Del Sogno (Les Tilley, $1.75) scored a popular win in the Carly-Mae Pye Memorial Open Handicap (1300m).
Cook was the partner of Carly-Mae who lost her life at Callaghan Park five years ago from a horse fall and emotions were both joyous while tinged with sadness by Conca Del Sogno’s win.
“It’s very special this race to me”, Tim Cook said as winning owner Carmel Coombe understood while they also both praised the win by “Conca” who has been nursed back to health after a foot issue.
Bridget Milway and part-owner Brett Green’s mother Ellie also celebrated the win of Black Saga (Ellie Smith, $5.50) as did trainer Leanne Applewaite and daughter Taylor when Gypsy Biker (Tilley, $7.50) won the last race.
Not forgetting of course, the vibrancy and affection demonstrated by Julieann Lancaster for her Bub’s Gold (Smith, $7.50) after the Golden Archer mare won the Maiden (1200m).
Oh yes, the ladies had a ball at Callaghan Park last Saturday on a wonderful afternoon with flow-on benefits galore for Rockhampton hospitality businesses over the weekend.