Race 1 winner Zahmao, ridden by Cassie Priest, wins by a mile at the Gladstone Turf Club meeting at Ferguson Park.
Race 1 winner Zahmao, ridden by Cassie Priest, wins by a mile at the Gladstone Turf Club meeting at Ferguson Park. Brenda Strong GLAHORS

Crowd flocks to track

THE hype and on-going success of rejuvenated racing at Gladstone's Ferguson Park racecourse enticed a bumper crowd of colourful racegoers there on Saturday where the competition on the track was first class.

Gladstone racegoers are renowned for their flair and colour and it was on show on Saturday - the scene-stealer being a man dressed in a Scottish kilt.

Under the leadership of Gladstone Turf Club's passionate president David Weinert, the committee again put on a first-class afternoon of racing and fittingly Ferguson Park track curator Denis Schultz took out the opening race which was the first of four offering a record $8000 purse.

Schultz owned and trained Zahmao (Cassie Priest, $2.50) won a whopping first prize of $5525 in the Class 3 (850m) which came about through an injection of $10,000 by the club.

While wining jockey Priest travelled from Caloundra, connections of runner-up Prince Of Monaco - trainer Ben Waldron and jockey Rebecca Kirwin - came from Roma.

Trainer Jared Wehlow and his partner, jockey Tracy O'Hara, came from Rockhampton to take out the second race, the Class B (1517m) with Hot Dubai ($2.25).

Owners Tony and Julie Henderson were delighted when the Mick Attard-trained Classy Cougar (Scott Sheargold, $5) won the $14,000 QTIS 600 Maiden (1000m). "It has taken a while (eight previous starts) for him to win a race but we also won with Vancouver Gold in Rocky last Thursday. Now I have some more money to buy a yearling at the Magic Million QTIS 600 Sale at the Gold Coast next month," Tony Henderson said.

Gladstone boasts Central Queensland's strongest bookmakers' ring with seven stands in the betting auditorium and another in the members' lounge in operation last Saturday.

Most of those bookies were caught by surprise when maiden first starter, Thangool trainer Lawrence Sainsbury's Del De Air, was smashed in the betting from $11 to start $4 favourite.

"I bet $1000/100 along with other bets. Most bookies laid a series of similar bets. The money just kept coming," bookie Fred Ward said.

Unfortunately, that could not be said about Del De Air, who finished a well beaten seventh.

Rockhampton trainer Angela Stephen's Chateau Istana-Monroeville filly Teanna Lass (Carly-Mae Pye, $21.00) provided bookmakers with a bonanza result by winning the Class B (1000m).

The filly defiantly clung on for a long-head win over GTC committeeman and trainer Phillip Pengelly's Red Ace (Luke Dillon) who ran a well backed $2.60 favourite.

The next scheduled Gladstone race meeting is on Saturday, March 24, when the club will inject an extra $5000 in prizemoney.

Racing in Central Queensland heads to Bluff for the annual flurry of thoroughbreds there next Saturday, February 25.