From The Caller’s Box

\"\"Caption: Mark Saal with Pump it was a popular win in the Bogie Leigh Queensland Futurity (Photo: Box 1 Photography)

By Paul Dolan

Between bushfires, COVID 19 and the bizarre USA election, 2020 has been a year to . . . well, forget.

Through all that, I have admired how resilient people involved in the three codes of racing have been, particularly with the COVID hurdles which appeared. Then again, resilience is pretty typical of racing folk.

There were some sad losses during 2020. Trainer Ray Gatti passed away, what a character he was. So too, ‘big’ John Edwards, who was a Queenslander for so long but died in Victoria from where he originated. And there was the tragic case of former breeder and trainer Gary Ralph.

The 71 years old had undergone an operation for aggressive brain cancer in Sydney. His story hit the headlines when he was forced into hotel quarantine. There was a lifting of the quarantine restrictions, however Gary passed away while completing home quarantine.

The expression ‘a good man with a dog’ is often used. It certainly applied to Ralph. He won the 1990 Tweed Heads Galaxy with star sprinter Brutess. The win by the Ralph-trained Classy Marcy in the 1994 Vince Curry Memorial was one of the most exciting and memorable races I ever had the pleasure to call.

Drawn box five, the daughter of Shining Chariot and National Queen was stone cold last along the back stretch. She unleashed a heart stopping burst to get up and win. Classy Marcy went on to be a top stayer.

Gary Ralph owned the great Roanokee, trained for him by Roger Green. The list goes on.

The 2021 Vince Curry Memorial Maiden series is almost upon us, set for three consecutive Saturday nights from January 23 at Ipswich. Good luck to everyone who is making that race a mission. It takes a good deal of preparation to target a youngster for the 520 metres series.

Farmor Beach won the final last year by an amazing twelve lengths, collecting $40,000. This year’s winner will collect the same sum.

And what about the Bogie Leigh Queensland Futurity and Sennachie at Stud Queensland Derby, both run in December?

I was pleased to see Mark Saal win the Futurity with Pump It. Mark has been a long time participant and was a tower of strength at the Toowoomba GRC when they were racing. A quiet achiever, you could say.

Tony Brett won the Derby with Sentenced. As everyone knows, Tony’s runners are always competitive at the highest level.

Did you notice the similarity in the wins of Pump It and Sentenced? Both finished powerfully after giving the leaders a tidy start. It was an exciting last night of group racing for 2020 at Albion Park.

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