By HARRY CLARKE
NEARLY five decades on from his first win in the town and three weeks on from being inducted into the Queensland Racing Hall of Fame, legendary horse trainer Pat Duff was trackside at Chinchilla to watch his powerful gelding DARE TO SHARE secure a spot in next month’s Country Stampede Final at Doomben.
The Critch Automotive Country Stampede Qualifier Open Handicap 1030M held at Chinchilla on Saturday was among the last in a series of lead up races for the Country Stampede, which pits some of the best horses on the bush circuit against one another in a city final each year.
Duff, aged in his 80s and based at Deagon Racecourse in Brisbane’s north, said it was a pleasure to return to Chinchilla and secure a win for what will be his first Country Stampede final.
“I’ve acquired him (DARE TO SHARE) in the last eight months and he’s a handy horse,” Duff said.
“He won at Kilcoy recently and ran second at the Sunshine Coast, but the mission is to go to the Country Stampede final in town. I haven’t had a runner in that race before so I’m hoping to have a win.
“He can race well. He’s a smart little race horse.”
Duff was last month inducted into the Queensland Racing Hall of Fame for his decades of service to the industry. He’s hailed as one of the great mentors for young trainers and jockeys and is widely respected among race goers throughout the state.
“I recall winning that first one here in Chinchilla in 1974,” he said.
“It was a horse called BOONA BOY. It was owned by the butcher out at Bell and they were Chinchilla people. He was quite a handsome old horse. I went on to win a race at Eagle Farm with him.”
The win on DARE TO SHARE at Chinchilla was a great moment also for apprentice jockey Emily Lang, who’s consistently notching up winners early in her career.
“It was a really nice ride. You can tell he’s nice horse,” Lang said.
“I was a bit worried when we began. We got back a bit further than I anticipated and I think they put the pace on for us up front.
“He was just able to get there in the finish. The gap opened up and he just ran over the top of them. He was great today. He definitely showed his class and I was really fortunate to get that ride from Pat.”
Experience also shone in the Fashions on the Field competition at the Chinchilla Race Club’s annual November meeting.
Hosted by Member for Callide and Chinchilla local Bryson Head, dazzling outfits included those worn by best dressed lady Verelle O’Shanesy from Jandowae, best dressed local Julieanne Bannister, and men’s winner Brendan Olm.
O’Shanesy, a milliner by profession and Fashions on the Field veteran whose headwear featured ‘flowers’ she made from feathers, said it was an honour to take out the colourful competition.
“I just love putting an outfit together. I make my own hats and make a lot of my outfits. I just love the whole process,” she said.
“I’ve always loved fashion from the time I was four years of age, so just putting and outfit together, and getting up on stage and just coming to the races is great fun.
“You don’t get to dress up too often and the races are a great opportunity to do that. It encourages people who might think about getting dressed up to do so, when they see others doing it.
Another big win on Saturday came for the Sepoy-sired mare KIKI COCO which won by a nose in the Base Chinchilla Country Cups Challenge Qualifier 1400M.
Similar to the Country Stampede, the Country Cups Challenge brings top country horses together for a final to be held at Doomben on December 3.
The mare’s Toowoomba based trainer, Rochelle Pereira, said it was thrilling to win at Chinchilla after the horse had been a victim of bad lack in recent races at Stanthorpe and Tara.
“I’ve had runners in Chinchilla before and have won a few races but this one is probably the most special,” Pereira said.
“I didn’t expect her to be that far back but she can finish off. I was worried about the hard track today. She’s a wet tracker so for her to do that on a hard track today is pretty impressive.
“I’ve had runners in Brisbane before and mid week winners but I haven’t had one on a Saturday so this (Country Cups Challenge) might be the one.”
Jockey Chris Taylor, a South African expat, added: “I told my agent whenever this horse runs I’d like to put my name forward, so it’s great to come here and get a win”.
“I was just trying to get her balanced. I knew the right horse was in front of me. I was wide but I knew I was travelling well and it was just a case of picking them up from the downhill,” Taylor said.
“Took a little time to get going but once but we straightened up, and thank goodness we got there with enough time in hand.”
The Chinchilla Race Club will host is annual Christmas meeting on December 17.