Jockey shortage means early start in Gladstone

HOW appropriate that Melbourne Cup Day at Gladstone's Ferguson Park racecourse will indeed be a testing day for the true "stayers" in the racing fraternity.

That's because the gates open at Ferguson Park for the morning program of local races on Tuesday at 9am.

The first of a good program of five local races gets under way at 10am with the last being run at noon, well before the running of the $6 million Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington at 2pm (Queensland time).

>> Get your Melbourne Cup sweep and race guide inside today's Observer

The reasoning is simple behind the morning race theme at Gladstone - a chronic shortage of jockeys in Capricornia.

Most of the riders taking part at Ferguson Park this morning have busy books of rides before driving back to ride at the Rockhampton race meeting this afternoon.

Not only the jockeys but stewards and officials will also take the 109-kilometre trip back up the Bruce Hwy to work the races at Callaghan Park, Rockhampton.

How times have changed as about a decade ago Melbourne Cup Day races were held at Rockhampton, Yeppoon, Gladstone and Thangool.

Local trainer Lee Kiernan has good prospects on his home track at Ferguson Park this morning.

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In the opening event, the Class B (1194m), his Written Tycoon mare Run' Em Ragged (Dale Evans) looks suited.

Interestingly, Brisbane jockey Justin Stanley will make his first Gladstone appearance to ride for his mate, trainer Nathan Schofield's Kaputski in the same race.

That could be a tip in itself.

Rockhampton trainer Clinton Garland's Camden Queen (Chris McIver) is opposed to the complete field of five other rivals from Mackay's John Manzelmann's stable in the Maiden Plate (1194m).

Twice placed from as many tries at Ferguson Park, credentials favour Camden Queen.

Garland and McIver team again in the third race, the Class 3 Plate (1000m), with Rhino, which also looks suited to win.

Kiernan's Bel Esprit gelding Base Jump, six times a Gladstone winner is weighted to win the fourth race, the Open (850m)

Brisbane apprentice Shenny Chan will claim three kilograms on Base Jump, bringing him into the race with a luxury 52kg after the pair combined to win at the track 10 days ago.

Little Chan, who scales at 46kg, rides a top threat in the final race at 12 today in Rockhampton trainer Shane Sigvart's Streetfire, a last start Ferguson Park 1000 metres winner.

If anything the nine-years-old Streetfire is versatile winning to 1500 metres so the 1517 metres of today's BM 55 should be right up his alley.

"Sir" James Paterson's Craiglea Copper (Dale Evans) gives the Scottish veteran trainer from Callaghan Park an excellent chance of re-entering the winners' circle in the race.

Coined "Sir" by a local wag, Paterson has toiled on the grass tracks with Craiglea Copper to no avail only to find out the plain-looking gelding he is a natural Ferguson Park sand-scratcher.

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