Witness weighty race history at Ferguson Park meet
RACEGOERS at Gladstone's Ferguson Park racecourse today will witness history, when the field heads onto the track for the second race, the Find Us On Facebook BM 70 Handicap (1000m).
The name could more appropriately read the High Weight or Lead Stakes, given the enormous weights the field of six will carry.
In race book order the field is: Slim Henry (69.5kg); Kamboja (65.5kg); Direct Debit (64.5kg); Liberty Tycoon (62kg); Otango (59kg) and Bonny The Viper (55kg).
Arguably, never before in Australia since metric weights were first issued in 1970, have as many starters in a race been handicapped to carry as much weight.
Furthermore, top weight Slim Henry's handicap of 69.5kg could set a Queensland weight carrying record for a registered professional race meeting run in the new millennium.
In this era, it is unusual for horses to start in races with even 61kg but it is indeed a rarity if they are handicapped with much more than that.
In fact, Gladstone trainer Phillip Pengelly's Slim Henry will actually carry 70.5kg, as the one kilogram weight of the jockey's safety vest is not taken into account when the rider weights out.
Racing Queensland's Brisbane-based handicapper Andrew Whitehead said he could not recall a horse starting in a race in modern times with such a high weight as Slim Henry's 69.5kg impost.
"I do remember Swiss Ace carrying a record weight of 68kg when he dead-heated for first at the Sunshine Coast TAB meeting on August 30, 2009," Whitehead said.
Slim Henry is a middle distance horse resuming from a five-month spell, after feature race wins at Thangool and Emerald. And while he will give today's race his best shot, he has never won a rec of less than 1200 metres with his best over 1600m.
The race is a beauty as Kamboja, Direct Debit and Liberty Tycoon are sand track specialists at Ferguson Park.
Under his "light" weight of 62kg, Liberty Tycoon looks the winner.
Rockhampton trainer Lindsay Challacombe's versatile sand-tracker Rytarga looks placed to bring up a hat-trick of wins by taking out the BM 60 Handicap (1194) run at 1.30pm.
Challacombe's horses are very adaptable and presented fit to win, which has been the case with Rytarga recently at Gladstone and Bluff over 1517m and 1300m.
But Rytarga has won on the turf at 1050m and is twice a 1200m winner, so the 1194m on sand after a freshen-up looks ideal.
The other best bet at Ferguson Park appears in the final race, the 1517m Class B, in which Clint Garland's Edgeroi Hope will be ridden by Queensland's leading rider of winners, Adrian Coome. Assess the grey's prospects on a previous runaway 10.8 lengths win there on January 11. First local race at 1.30pm.