Jenny - Clean

IN his widely-read column, ‘SILKS & SADDLES,’ published by the NORTH QUEENSLAND REGISTER, respected racing writer TERRY BUTTS reports on a downside to the win by Fiveandahalfstars in the Victoria Derby last Saturday.

Prominent Townsville administrator, racehorse owner and breeder, Kevin O’Keefe, owned a third share of Hotel Grand, the sire of Fiveandahalfstars, which died of colic. The upside is that O’Keefe has some nice youngsters by the sire who has, in death, rocketed up the list.

Here is the Butts column:

O’KEEFE LEFT TO PONDER WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN AFER DERBY WIN

WHEN the emotionally charged Damien Oliver lifted Five and a half Stars to the post and to a, momentous win in the $1.5 million Victoria Derby on Saturday, Townsville’s Kevin O’Keefe didn’t know whether to cheer or cry.

The fact that he had a lousy $20 on at $26 should have creased his dial. And it normally would. But the realization of what could have been sobered any thoughts of major celebration.

Kevin, the recently appointed chairman of the Townsville Turf Club owned a third of the Derby winner’s sire Hotel Grand which died from a colic attack two years ago after only three years at stud.

Five and a Half Stars was one of his first foals and his win in the Derby on Saturday would have put a price tag of possibly $10 million on the sire, a son of Grand Lodge.

Hotel Grand, a Randwick Guineas winner beating Flying Pegasus and the favorite Primus, retired to stud soon after contesting the Cox Plate won by Makybe Diva in 2006.

In all he had only nine starts for three wins and a third for $600,000 prizemoney.

His connections (also owners of Fiveandahalfstar) retained a third interest and O’Keefe and current RQL chairman Kevin Dixon secured the other two thirds.

"It can be a tough game sometimes - the racing game”, Kevin lamented after the race.

“It was just one of those things.  The stud master went down one morning and found him dead in the stable.

“He was insured of course - but it really doesn’t compensate for what might have been.  He was only young - 10 years old and last year was in the top 10 sires nationally.

“He was truly an exciting prospect”.

Before the Derby win by his now -illustrious son, Hotel Grand was 28th in order this season (ahead of Flying Spur etc) on the national list of prizemoney earners.

No doubt he will now leap to a much more prominent place on the list – into the company of Redoubt’s Choice, Exceed and Excel and Lonhro and co.

 

NEWS NOT ALL DOOM AND GLOOM FOR O’KEEFE WITH SOME OF HIS PROGENY

BUT the news is not all gloom for O’Keefe who still has “six or eight” on the ground and some will probably go into the Magic Millions sale next year where no doubt there will be a keen demand.

And then there is another little colt currently in the Townsville stable of Bill Kenning.

He is leased to a host of colorful Cluden characters including the TTC operations manager Darlene and her husband George MacKenzie, and local bookies Lloyd Mitchell and Anne Bode.

Yet to be named, the youngster was an eyecatching second in its debut trial last week at Cluden.

It was nominated under the stable name of Goat.

But they are kidding no one!

 

DEATH OF A PIONEER OF RACING IN NORTH QUEENSLAND FROM THE LUCEY FAMILY

ONE of the oldest members of the celebrated Lucey family pioneers of the far north west of Queensland and famous for their involvement in racing in North Queensland has died.

Aldemira Frances Lucey, known for most of her life in the north as Anne, passed away in the Tully Aged Home last week aged 84.

Her husband Vinney, who won the first ever Cairns Amateur Cup with a horse named Legal Issue, preceded her in death by 10 years.

The couple carved the now famous Wyoming cattle station from in the harsh but rich scrubland of the north west.

They were founding members of the FNQATC and great lifelong stalwarts of the Mt Garnet May carnival.  In fact their association generally, with racing in that part of the world is well documented.

Their  a daughter Peta O’Connell is currently writing a history of  the Mt Garnet club which she hopes to publish to coincide with its 75th anniversary next year.

Anne originally from Sydney was a nursing sister and worked initially on Thursday Island before moving to Atherton where she became matron at the local hospital.

The Lucey family has been great contributors to racing over three generations.  The matriarch of the family, Marion, Vin’s sister, is 90 and resides with a daughter in Cairns.

Apart from their racing and pastoral interests, the Luceys owned the century old- and famous watering hole - the Mt Garnet Hotel for many decades.

A unique feature of their ownership of the pub was that it was always managed and operated by the female members of the family namely Julia, Annie, Mary and Erin right up until it was sold a few years ago.

 

MACKAY BEACH RACING EXTRAVAGANZA GROWING IN POPULARITY

WHILE most of the conventional race clubs tend to struggle to attract crowds, Mackay’s beach racing extravaganza is going from strength to strength, according to its founder and organizer, the inimitable Mick Pope.

The inaugural Beach Race was held at Mackay Harbor in August and gained national and international coverage.  It was, according to all and sundry an absolute hoot!

More than 5000 turned up for the first Broo Beach Classic run over six heats with a $20,000 final over 600m down the  sand which is normally the reserve of swimmers, sun-bathers and the occasional surfer.  But this time it was horses- all breeds- and their riders - all types.

Next year the crowd is expected to exceed 10,000 with the Mackay City Council and Queensland Events Corporation pledging solid support.

Next year there will be separate race categories for thoroughbred (600meters), quarter horses (400m) and any other breed (350m).  There will be a dramatic increase in prizemoney, too, said the organizer.

Next year it will be a three to four day gala festival.

He is hopeful of getting the local turf club involved with a Traditional Day of racing at Ooralea on the Saturday.

he said the day was a “nothing’ day on the racing calendar.

“The problem would be to get the Mackay Turf Club to act in a pro active manner and embrace the festival for what it is - a wonderful family and community event which benefits all local charities”.

The other good news is that Mr Pope is looking at the possibility of another beach race extravaganza further up the coast – at Magnetic Island.

 

MORE ON THAT ONE AND ONLY TULLY CUP – IT WAS RUN IN 1936

AND now more on that one and only Tully Cup!

We already know that Skinny Thomas from Townsville rode the winner. 

What we didn’t know until Paddy Cannon of Atherton dropped a line last week is that the horse was Merry Bachelor; it was owned by Mr R Thomas and the only Tully Race meeting was run in 1936.

 Skinny rode three winners on the day, the cup as over 1400m and Eddie Fordyce, a Wulguru postman rode the runner up, Royal Kingdom. 

Actually Fordyce later rode overseas and became a houseful name in India and Ceylon (Sri Lanka). 

We must also mention that Skinny’s granddaughter we wrongly referred to last week as Beverley Desley (blame the cyber gremlins). In fact she is well known Townsville businesswoman Desley Cahill who has spent years trying to get the recognition her grandfather richly deserves.

Hopefully she will have some exhibits for the North Queensland Racing Museum when it’s up and running next year under the direction of well known local raconteur John Lyons aka The Phantom.

 

     

COLUMN COURTESY OF TERRY BUTTS AND THE NORTH QUEENSLAND REGISTER, one of Australia's leading rural newspapers.

TERRY BUTTS can be contacted by e-mailing: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

 

 

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