Lee Duffield

Edited by Lee Duffield
Freedom and Truth

Toowoomba produces turf stars on racing centre stage

Rothera to represent Toowoomba in the 2010 Spring Carnival. Source: Ross Stevenson, with permission

Rothera to represent Toowoomba in the 2010 Spring Carnival. Source: Ross Stevenson, with permission

The Queensland onslaught on the Spring Carnival riches continues this weekend with Queensland horses racing in Melbourne and Sydney.

19-year-old Ben Currie takes a big step in his young training career when he saddles up another Toowoomba representative, Rothera, in the Group Three Betfair Stakes over 1400 metres at Caulfield.

Toowoomba gallopers have made a major splash on Australian racing’s main stage recently, with Captain Sonador winning the historic Group One Epsom Handicap at Randwick on October 2, and Poor Judge running a surprise third in the Group One Toorak Handicap at Caulfield last weekend.

“We were thinking of going to Sydney and targeting the Bill Ritchie or the Epsom, [but] he had a little setback when he became a bit crook for a couple of weeks so we had to back off him and we sort of just waited,” Currie said.

“A lot of his form stacks up really well, you can only beat what he’s faced in Brisbane and if we can get a little bit of rain I think he might be a chance,” he said.

Toowoomba trainer Norm Hilton surprised many form analysts last Saturday when his horse Poor Judge ran a brave third at long odds to the Gai Waterhouse trained super mare More Joyous.

In fact, Poor Judge nearly did not make it to Melbourne. The horse had already been sent to the paddock for a two month spell, when owner Phillip Tjoen suggested they take him south.

“The owner rang me and said there’s a space left on the plane why don’t we go to Melbourne?” Hilton said.

“So I raced out to the paddock and got him and washed the mud off him and here we are.”

He conceded many were critical about his entry.

“We’ve got a saying in our stable, bite off more than you can chew and then chew like hell, well we’re chewing,”

“We didn’t know how good the horse was, you don’t know until you try,” he said.

Brisbane trainer Robert Heathcote is also enjoying success down south.  This weekend, he will be kept busy with runners in three states including Eagle Farm.

Heathcote calls Buffering the "shining light of the stable." Source: Ross Stevenson, with permission

Heathcote calls Buffering the "shining light of the stable." Source: Ross Stevenson, with permission

He’s already produced Buffering to set a race record in the Group Two Roman Consul at Randwick on October 2.  He lines up again this weekend in the Listed Governor Macquarie Cup, while Woorim will be representing the stable in the Group Three Betfair Stakes at Caulfield.

“Buffering is the real shining light of the stable at the moment and to do the extensive  travelling like he’s done, set a race record on a dead track doing his best work at the end of the race and not having run for a month, it’s certainly pleasing for us that’s for sure,” Heathcote said.