Cloncurry Spring Races get new season off to hot start

HOT START: Dan Ballard leads Toucan to victory in Race 1 at Cloncurry Spring Races at Schumacher Park on Saturday. Photo: Derek Barry
HOT START: Dan Ballard leads Toucan to victory in Race 1 at Cloncurry Spring Races at Schumacher Park on Saturday. Photo: Derek Barry

On a day where heat was the theme, including a chilli eating competition, none was hotter than Wicked Wiki, Tanya Parry and Dan Ballard.

The three were presented with the North West Queensland Premiership for Horse, Trainer and Jockey of the Year. Trained by Parry Wicked Wiki won eight races last year and with Ballard started this season’s tally with the John Bulley and Judy Keys Memorial (1000m).

The combination is working like a well-oiled machine.

“The real test on whether a trainer has the formula for getting the best out of a horse is if they back up the following year.” Ballard said. “Tanya’s been able to do that.”

Parry’s second-placed World Of Pain led the start from Anzus with Your Way Or Mine, Five Spices, Senseofwonder and Wicked Wiki behind. Around the turn Wicked Wiki took control winning by three quarters of a length. Born To Fire came home late to take third.

Parry and Ballard combined again in the Cloncurry Shire Council ‘Beat The Heat Festival’ Class B Handicap (1200m). Al Mah Rocket was backed in and looked the goods when he jumped to the lead. He could not break away and three lengths covered the field at the 1000. In the straight Al Mah Rocket and Who Am I cleared out and the pair went hammer and tongs down. Every time Al Mah Rocket lifted to challenge Who Am I responded. The three and a quarter length win gave Ballard his treble and Parry her double with Herebaneek third.

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Ballard began his treble in the opener the Black Toyota Maiden Plate (1000m). Aboard odds on favourite Toucan he led the way out but Jeffrey Felix hustled Wych Magic along on the inside. Scottabee and Nitro City joined them with stablemates Leapin’ Lena and Mr Butcher two lengths behind. Scottabee was squeezed out at the 500 as Toucan and Wych Magic cleared out from Nitro City. Toucan proved too strong and won by three lengths with Nitro City four lengths third. 

Jason Babarovich was third to Ballard in the Queensland Country Jockey’s Premiership last season but is a welcome addition to the local riding ranks.

“Having a jockey of his experience is a huge asset,” said Ballard, who as Mount Isa Race Club President, knows the effect the lack of bush jockeys has on the sport.

Babarovich had a double starting with the Leichardt Hotel Motel Class 2 Plate (1000m). Sirtime, Safdie, Cool Chaos and Abba Original were a line at the 800 with Nothin’ Zappenin’ behind. Cool Chaos faded and Sirtime felt the pinch. Safdie entered the straight a length in front of Abba Original who applied plenty of pressure. Under Babarovich’s urging Safdie held off the challenge for a length win. Nothin’ Zappenin’ came home well for a two length third.

Babarovich collected his second win in the last, the Cloncurry Tyres & Batteries Class 2 Plate (1400m), giving Winton trainer Ray Herman a double of his own.

Do I Have To, Wicked Investment and Two Of A Kind took the lead soon after jumping but by the thousand Slippery Saga and Captain’s Pick were with Two Of A Kind in front. The outsider of the field Slippery Saga tried to raise the pace but blew up quickly and Do I Have To made his move.

Do I Have To went to the line a length is front of Two Of A Kind with Wicked Investment a further length and a quarter third.