PARDON my indulgence but to paraphrase 1960s singer Lesley Gore: "It's my column and I'll cry if I want to!"
During the 15 years I've been writing this column I've written many tributes to past Queensland Country Life colleagues and racing personnel. However, this is the most heartfelt tribute because - after celebrating 30 years together on March 31 this year - my wife Diane Phillips Bate (nee Phillips) died suddenly last Friday, May 1 at Royal Brisbane Hospital aged 73.
Born and raised by her parents Fred and Gloria Phillips on a dairy/grain farm at Boondooma in the South Burnett, Diane rode a pony to school and enjoyed attending the nearby annual Burrandowan Picnic Races then re-visiting several times later when her brother Mark Phillips was club president.
Racing took a backseat when Diane worked as a librarian and then raised a family at Warwick where her only racing connection was living at Lyndhurst Lane and arranging with stud-master Merrill Kruger for her teenage son Angus Noakes to work part-time at historic Lyndhurst Stud.
That all changed when she moved to Ipswich Library in late 1989. We met on March 31, 1990 when I was MC at the wedding reception for two QCL colleagues and they sat me next to the bride's aunt - Diane.
Having taken a partial interest in racing, Diane remarked when I joined a syndicate to race a mare Criticize trained by Tony Sears in Toowoomba: "I hope I don't become a racing widow!" The horse won. Two weeks later when Criticize was due to start in Brisbane Diane's follow-up remark was: "Who's riding OUR horse?"
With this new-found interest, Diane then became a registered owner and had the satisfaction of watching the first horse she co-owned - a filly named Hialeah Star - win a 2YO race on debut at the Gold Coast. Hialeah Star went on to win five races at Doomben and three at the Gold Coast while Diane was also a co-owner of Braebrook who won five races in succession at Caloundra which earned him Sunshine Coast Horse of the Year.
During several overseas trips, Diane enjoying attending Group 1 racing at Ascot (Queen Elizabeth II Stakes) and Newmarket (Champion Stakes) in England, Monmouth (Breeders Cup), Chicago (Arlington Million) and San Diego (South Pacific Classic) in the USA and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France.
It was at the 2007 Arc won by Dylan Thomas that Diane scored her biggest racing triumph when I saw chic Parisian women taking photos of Diane and her stylish outfit! Former Brisbane race caller Wayne Wilson once remarked that Hialeah Star had "a touch of class". Her co-owner Diane was all class!
Racing Queensland attains free-to-air coverage
RACING Queensland has announced the Seven Network will provide free-to-air television coverage of some its biggest features including the Group 1 Stradbroke and Group 1 JJ Atkins for 2YOs at Eagle Farm on Saturday, June 6.
Earlier this month, RQ confirmed it would stage 15 Group races throughout May and June. With patron-free meetings being conducted across the state, the Seven Network will cover the final four weeks of feature racing in Brisbane from May 23 to June 13.
A total of 100 horses have been nominated for the 1400m Stradbroke including last year's winner Trekking and runner-up Tyzone while there are 140 nominations for the 1400m Group 1 JJ Atkins for 2YOs
"Racing in winter is synonymous with Queensland and we look forward to providing free-to-air coverage of some of our up-coming features in conjunction with the Seven Network. With racegoers unable to attend some of the traditional highlights on the Queensland racing calendar such as the Stradbroke, we wanted to showcase our product across the nation to as many people as possible," RQ CEO Brendan Parnell said.
Having traditionally broadcast the Brisbane Winter Carnival, Seven Brisbane general manager Ben Roberts-Smith said they welcomed Queensland's return to their coverage in 2020.
"The Brisbane Winter Carnival rightly has a special place on the Australian racing calendar, so we're rapt to join forces with Racing Queensland and bring it to racing fans across the nation live and free. It promises to be an unforgettable four weeks of racing," he said.
The Group 2 Victory Stakes and Champagne Classic will begin the Seven Network's coverage at Eagle Farm on May 23 before moving to Doomben for the Group 3 Chairman's Handicap and Fred Best Classic on May 30. The Stradbroke and the Group 1 JJ Atkins headline the coverage on June 6 before the fourth and final meeting is held at Eagle Farm on June 13 featuring six black-type races including the Group 2 The Roses.
The Seven Network coverage will feature races from Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide during this period.
RQ to consolidate metro regions
RACING Queensland has consolidated its metropolitan Thoroughbred regions from Monday, May 4 as part of a multi-staged response to its current biosecurity measures.
Having implemented designated racing regions in late March, RQ will allow conditional participant movement on race days for those now assigned to the Metro North and Metro South West regions.
The existing protocols limiting participants to their designated location outside of race day, including trials, track work and jump outs, remain in place, while horse movement outside of RQ's regions may only occur as previously advised. Additionally, any licensed participant who is not directly engaged in a race meeting remains restricted from attending.
Metropolitan clubs will be required to establish additional race day protocols including:
- Allocation of race day stalls for former Metro North and Metro South West horses to minimise interaction between participants from alternate racing regions and to observe required social distancing protocols; and
- Allocation of jockey areas to group former Metro North and Metro South West participants in distinct sections.
RQ chief operations officer Adam Wallish said a multi-staged approach had been implemented ahead of the up-coming winter feature races, with a further review to take place in a fortnight's time. "With the Queensland racing industry about to enter its eighth week under strict biosecurity measures, we know the restrictions on movement continues to be a topic of much debate," Mr Wallish said.
"But we cannot hasten this process, and by implementing a staged response, we're able to take small but gradual steps to reduce restrictions. Subject to ongoing government and health advice, our next review will consider the Central and North Coast regions, along with some further easing across our metropolitan venues. It's important to stress, however, that the end is far from near, and our response will be commensurate with the advice we are receiving at that time," he said.
Five Hedley horses head home first
FIVE winners for leviathan owner Tom Hedley and four each for trainer Stephen Massingham and jockey Chris Whiteley were highlights of the eight-race program held at Cairns on Thursday, April 30.
Massingham trained four of the first five winners including the first three in succession (Endorse, Bougatsa, The Harrovian) - all carrying the all-conquering Hedley orange colours.
Not to be outdone, jockey Chris Whiteley rode four winners - three for Massingham (Endorse, Bougatsa, Full Recognition) and another Hedley horse Van Gaal for Fred Wieland.
In fact, over March and April, Massingham has trained 10 winners at Cairns and Townsville with The Harrovian, Endorse and Ready For Love each winning two. Yet again The Harrovian set a weight carrying record of 67kg at Cairns in winning a 1400m Open handicap - 12kg more than the two placegetters who each carried 55kg and 1.5kg more than the 65.5kg he carried when winning at Cairns on a heavy track two weeks earlier.
Mount Isa jockey rides five winners at Longreach
MOUNT Isa jockey Dan Ballard dominated the first new Greater Western region race meeting under COVID-19 restrictions when he won five of the eight races held at Longreach on Saturday.
Three of the winners (Sheriff Kendell, Cool Rain, Eschiele) were for Barcaldine trainer Todd Austin while the other two (Charles, Gold Say) were trained locally by Mark Oates.
A 7YO gelding by Medaglia D'Oro (USA) from the winning and twice Group 2 placed Fusaichi Pegasus (USA) mare Upper Echelon, Eschiele has had three starts for Austin for two wins at Barcaldine and Longreach - the 1400m Diggers' Cup. He's now started 51 times for eight wins and 13 placings - his most notable placing being runner-up in last year's 1600m Birdsville Cup when trained by Charleville-based Leslie Baker after an unsuccessful protest against the winner French Hussler trained by Todd Austin.
Bred by Darley Stud, Eschiele won three races at Wyong (2) and Warwick Farm plus placed fourth in the Group 3 Grand Prix Stakes at Doomben before being sold for $12,000 at the 2017 Magic Millions Gold Coast National Racehorse sale. After several unplaced starts in Victoria, Eschiele was then on-sold to Leslie Baker.
Record result for Inglis Digital sale
THE largest catalogue in Inglis Digital's history ended on Thursday, April 30 with a record gross of $4.14 million and 420 lots sold, for a clearance rate of 77 per cent.
The April Online Sale was topped by Kingstar Farm-consigned mare Conducir, offered in foal to Capitalist and bought by Boomer Bloodstock/Daandine Stud for $170,000. "It was a fantastic result to buy Conducir for Daandine Stud. The purchase was close to home for Daandine Stud as we purchased Conducir's half-sister Great Danasaar in 2016 for $80,000 and her first foal is the extremely exciting, unbeaten 2YO filly Isotope," Boomer Bloodstock's Craig Rounsefell said.
Isotope was sold by Daandine at the 2019 Magic Million Gold Coast for $170,000 to Brisbane trainer Tony Gollan. In addition, Conducir and Great Danasaar are half-sisters to dual Group 1 winner Yankee Rose - Champion 2YO Filly and 3YO Filly in Australia in 2015-16 and 2016-17.
Inglis Digital business manager Nick Melmeth said: "It was a very strong sale. We were concerned that the large volume of entries might compromise the sale but the quality of lots were readily found across all categories and competition was spirited. Incredibly, we had 400 new registered bidders since last Friday when the catalogue went live."
The story Vale Diane Phillips Bate - 'racing widow' to successful owner first appeared on North Queensland Register.