Rockhampton trainer Ricky Vale. Picture: Heidi Petith
Rockhampton trainer Ricky Vale. Picture: Heidi Petith

War of words erupts after Rocky races called off

There was no shortage of finger pointing after the races at the big annual Rocky Amateurs Race Day were called off on Saturday in controversial circumstances.

After the races were abandoned following the running of just one event due to a wet patch on the track, the Rockhampton Jockey Club sent out a message to trainers notifying that barrier trials and jump-outs on Monday (May 10) “will proceed as normal.”

That led to Rockhampton’s former premier trainer Tom Button, now based at the Sunshine Coast, to comment on Facebook: “How can it be ok Monday if they called off today..Strange stuff.”

Button had numerous runners entered at Saturday’s Rockhampton meeting.

What followed was a stream of comments from industry participants.

Rockhampton trainer Ricky Vale responded to Button’s comments with: “Probably cause day and whiteley wont be there to complain about the track.”

Vale was referring to visiting jockeys Nathan Day and Chris Whiteley - both of whom are based in south-east Queensland and are among a number of “fly-ins” that Rockhampton racing relies heavily upon for its race meetings.

Vale and Day engaged in a protracted heated exchange - the majority of their comments won’t be reproduced in this article.

Jockey Nathan Day. Picture: Brendan Radke.
Jockey Nathan Day. Picture: Brendan Radke.

Day said that jockeys “wanted to ride”.

“Again we wanted to ride. Go around the area. They said no to that idea,” Day wrote on Facebook.

At one stage Day wrote: “just sort that track out so we can all make a earn.”

On Sunday Whiteley, who did not engage in the above-mentioned Facebook discussion, said that the jockeys were “happy to proceed and just avoid the inside problem section.”

Prominent Central Queensland owner Dianne Ouston, who has an interest in Alpine Edge which finished runner-up in January’s $2m Magic Millions 2YO Classic at the Gold Coast, also weighed in on Facebook with her thoughts on the track situation.

“I know of some tracks that will ask a trainer to send a couple of horses around the morning before they race, for a grass gallop and get the feedback from the riders. Perhaps if the RJC adopted this action, we wouldn’t be in the position we were in yesterday (Saturday)?”

Co-owner of Rockhampton’s star-of-the-moment galloper Marway, Elaine Sturgiss responded: “good idea.”

Rockhampton trainer Jim Rundle, former trainer and owner of multiple Sydney winner Idance, said: “this is the second time in a few weeks the races have been called off after the first race, emerald and now Rockhampton. What happened to track inspections before the races. It’s anybody responsible?”


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