Year in Review

Big day makes a memorable year

There were plenty of highs and lows on the track in the region over the past 12 months, writes David Polkinghorne.

Super Sunday was triumphantly born, Queanbeyan had an extra cup, and the region lost its queen. As is the case in racing, there are always winners and losers.

Thoroughbred Park joined its four listed races - the $250,000 Black Opal Stakes, the $200,000 Canberra Cup, the National Sprint and the Canberra Guineas - into one blockbuster day of autumn racing that attracted some of the top trainers and owners in the country.

Legendary larrikin John Singleton flew in on his helicopter to watch Later Gator run third to Epaulette in the Black Opal - a race he was trying to win for the first time since 1982 when Beans saluted at Canberra.

Later Gator was trained by Sydney's queen of the track, Gai Waterhouse, while Epaulette came from the Darley stable, trained by Peter Snowden.

After his win, Snowden backed the Black Opal as a perfect lead-up for the world's richest race for two-year-olds, the $3.5 million Golden Slipper.

''With the time frame now, it works in very good - it's two weeks now to the Todman [Stakes] and [then] two weeks to the Slipper, so time-wise it fits in really good,'' he said of the Black Opal.


While Epaulette may have let both Snowden and that statement down by finishing last in the Slipper, he has since gone on to be a group 1 winner in a sensational spring.

He saluted in the group 1 Golden Rose (1400 metres) at Rosehill, before taking out the group 3 Caulfield Guineas Prelude (1400m).

While it was a Sydney raider who took away the Black Opal, Canberra's mother-son training duo Barbara Joseph and Paul Jones kept the cup at home with a long-head win from World Wide.

But the year wouldn't end well for Fill The Page, who was retired after injuring a tendon in the lead-up to her Melbourne spring carnival campaign.

While the Canberra Cup found a new home in autumn after moving from spring, the Queanbeyan Cup took the opposite route and had two runnings in 2012 as a result.

Both were won by Wollongong trainers, with Gwenda Markwell's Peal Of Bells storming home by four lengths in April and then Tara Laine's Setta Rocks saluting by a similar margin in October.

QRacing chief executive Brendan Comyn was left fuming after neither the trainer or any of the owners were on hand to accept the cup when Peal Of Bells won.

It meant the truck driver had to do the honours.

Comyn likened it to ''kissing your sister''.

''Country tracks and city trainers, they probably don't go hand in hand,'' he said.

''If the second horse [Kariz] had've won all the owners were here, the trainer was here, it's a local horse, it would've been a big celebration and you ended up talking to the jockey because he was the only one associated with the horse.''

As both Queanbeyan cups left for Kembla Grange, the Queen of Queanbeyan headed to the central coast.

Karuta Queen's owners Glenn and Viive Williams sold her to Singleton and she moved from Neville Layt's stables to ''Singo's'' Strawberry Hill Stud.

Singleton later opted for Peter Moody, the trainer of super mare Black Caviar, to look after her. Karuta won more than $1.7 million in prizemoney after saluting in the Magic Millions Two-year-old Classic and the group 3 Australia Stakes before a bone-spur problem in her knee prompted the owners to sell her as a brood mare.

She's being prepared for a tilt at the Rubiton Stakes and the Oakleigh Plate in Melbourne in February. Layt said it was sad to see the horse go.

''I haven't spoken to her owners … you know more about her being sold than I do,'' he said in June.

''I haven't heard from them since Saturday morning. Yeah it will be [sad to see her go], but we've got plenty more [horses] so we've just got to concentrate on them.''