Rocky road gets a lot smoother as club increases appeal

ROCKHAMPTON launched its winter carnival on Friday, revealing a new incentive for southeast Queensland trainers to send multiple runners north.

The club has teamed up with Tropical Auto Group to give away a Mitsubishi Mirage to the top trainer across Newmarket (June 22) and Rockhampton Cup (June 24) days.

Points will be allocated on a 3-2-1 basis on every race on those two days.

Rob Heathcote won the Newmarket with Lauterbrunnen last year, while Kelly Schweida took out the cup with Ruling Force.

Local trainer Tom Button took home a cash prize for being the leading trainer, but the club has upped the ante this year.

“Having those bigger stables represented adds to the appeal of the entire carnival,” Rockhampton Jockey Club chief executive Tony Fenlon said.

“As well as targeting the cup and the Newmarket, we want those stables to bring up other runners and bolster the quality of our races across the Winter Carnival.”

Heathcote said he intended to return.

“I had a great time there last year. The club is to be congratulated for this initiative and for sure, I will be aiming to find a few horses that are suitable for the carnival.”

Button, who was runner-up in the Brisbane Apprentice title back in 1996-97, is now the premier trainer in Rockhampton and has a team of 20 horses being aimed at races over the next two months.

Button finished riding at the age of 21 and soon after spent five years in the army, including a seven-month stint in Iraq.

He left the armed forces and worked in the mines, taking up training part-time, before deciding to give the profession a full-time crack three years ago.

“This is the grand final for us every year and we’ve planned to have a full team at their best over the carnival,” he said.

“The car is a great incentive and hopefully it does bring a few more horses from southeast Queensland.”

Button recently bought handy galloper Deconstructed from Gary Newham and Paul Makin, with a specific plan to win the Rockhampton Cup.

The club is also giving away ‘‘fuel for a year’’ up to $1200 for the leading jockey across the two days.

 

 

The Rockhampton Jockey Club is hoping to encourage the bigger Queensland stables to head north for its carnival. Picture: Grant Peters, Trackside Photography

Story courtesy Nathan Exelby – Brisbane Courier Mail 

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