Roma Rocks to Racing and Rugby!

Racing and rugby fans were treated to clear blue skies and some exciting action, both on the track and on the football field, for the Roma Turf Club’s annual Rugby Race Day at Bassett Park in June.

With so much action to squeeze into one huge day, for the first time the racing action and rugby matches were run concurrently at the Bassett Park racecourse as well as Gallas Fox Park, the home of the Echidnas. The St George/Roma ladies started the day on the right foot for the local teams defeating the Toowoomba Bears ladies 21-nil in their Black Isuzu Cup Womens XV match, but the Chinchilla River Rats were too good for the Roma Echidnas winning 19-nil in the E.S. Dooney Hayes Cup C Grade clash.

Photo: Villaden wins the Roma Gas Supplies Rugby Slipper 1200m

Jockey Brendan Newport and Chinchilla trainer Rodney Hay combined to take the riding and training honours on the track with a winning double, including Villaden winning the day’s feature race the Roma Gas Supplies Rugby Slipper of 1200 metres. Newport positioned the Tavistock gelding just in behind the early leader Unrestricted before making a winning move around 700 metres from the post and was never headed, despite the urgings of jockey Morgan Butler aboard the runner-up Hanover Square,  also trained at Chinchilla by Leonard Mawn, but Villaden had enough of a break to win by a long head from Hanover Square with Son Of Sampson ¾ of a length away in third for Hannah Richardson and Toowoomba trainer Jackie Crompton in a time of 1:12.15. Previously with Australia’s leading trainer Chris Waller in Sydney, Saturday’s victory was Villaden’s third since joining the Rodney Hay stable having won last year’s Kumbia and Chinchilla Cups for Hay.


Photo : Ablett wins the Somerville House Maiden Plate 1000m

The Newport/Hay combination were successful earlier in the day with Ablett winning the Somerville House maiden plate of 1000 metres, defeating Hell Approaching by 3¼ lengths with Queen Nina a further 3 lengths away in third. Newport quickly took the Zoustar gelding to the lead and was able to lead from start to finish, stopping the clock at 59.06 seconds. Ablett was able to break through for his maiden win in just his fourth race start and was previously trained in Victoria by champion trainer Peter Moody before joining the Hay stable at Chinchilla.

Photo : Esjay wins the St Joseph’s Nudgee College QTIS Class 1 1000m

No stranger to winning on the sand track at Roma when preparing his team at St George, now-Toowoomba based Pat Webster had favourite backers happy when his Rothesay gelding Esjay won the St Joseph’s Nudgee College QTIS Class 1 of 1000 metres from Rodney Hay’s Johnny Utah and Son Of Beebee trained at Roma by Craig Smith running third. Apprentice Olivia Webb tracked the early leaders The Storm and Conair before she and Newport aboard Johnny Utah broke away on the home turn, with Esjay holding on for a 1¾ length win and a further 1¾ lengths back to Son Of Beebee ridden by Samantha Zoljan in third in a time of 58.47 seconds.

Photo : Joey Jaws wins the Southport School/NRG Services BM60 1000m

The Colin Storch-trained Joey Jaws had been out of form since last winning at the Roma Picnics in March this year but was able to bounce back into the winner’s circle on Saturday taking out the Southport School/NRG Services BM60 handicap with apprentice Brodie Moffat in the saddle. Moffat set a cracking pace early saying “catch me if you can” to the near-capacity field and lasted to win from the fast-finishing Manic Light for apprentice Jacob Golden and trainer Dwayne Schmidt and Transceltic for apprentice Maddie Mankelow and trainer William Pugsley running third. Joey Jaws won by the barest of margins holding on to win by a nose with 1 length between the placegetters in a time of 58.57 seconds.

Photo : Lip Sip Suk wins the Roma Veterinary Clinic/GR Production Services BM60 1640m

Apprentice Samantha Zoljan only commenced her riding career in March this year and followed up her winning double the previous Saturday at Longreach with victory in the Roma Veterinary Clinic/GR Production Services BM60 of 1640 metres aboard Lip Sip Suk for Roma trainer Craig Smith. Zoljan tracked the early leaders Bugden, Inhistime and Forged In Time to get a cosy run before making a move to the front 700 metres from the finish, and was never headed in the home straight going on to win by 7½ lengths from the Leonard Mawn-trained Heat with Saint Martin trained by Wayne Baker a half a length away in third place in a time of 1:41.57. Formerly from Victoria, Zoljan teamed up with the Craig Smith stable last year, and won her first race on her first race ride when successful aboard One Tune at Springsure. Samantha has quickly brought up 12 wins and 10 placings in her first 3 months of riding, and even contested the showjumping events at last month’s Roma Show as she had an extensive background in eventing before pursuing her ambitions of becoming a jockey and making the move to Queensland.

Photo : Best Side wins the Anglican Church Grammar School BM45 1200m

The day’s racing wrapped up with the Anglican Church Grammar School BM45 of 1200 metres, and Best Side trained by Raymond Frazer at Augathella was too strong for the Roma-trained placegetters in Legislate for Wayne Baker and Scottish Farmer trained by Scott Rodgers. Rogers moved to the lead 500 metres from home and put a gap in his rivals, going on to score by 2 lengths with a further length separating second and third in a time of 1:12.47.

Photo: Echidnas in action.

Following the 6-race programme, it was time for more rugby as the day’s feast of furlongs and football continued and the St George Frill Necks were too strong for the Condamine Cods in the Bill Flamsteed Cup B Grade clash winning 54-14. The big crowd was then treated to end-to-end-action in the Risdon Cup A Grade match between the Roma Echidnas and the Condamine Cods, with the lead changing several times late in the game before a last-minute penalty goal secured the win for the Echidnas 32-31. In a first for the R.T.C.’s Rugby day, Nudgee and Ipswich Grammar then contested an U16A’s GPS match, with Nudgee collecting the trophy winning 21-12.

Photo : Echidnas celebrate

Hailing the day as a great success, Roma Turf Club co-president Peter Flynn thanked all the clubs for their participation in the day and especially those who had travelled to play. “With a crowd in excess of 3000 and plenty of people partying on into the night with The 78 Sound, our Rugby day is quickly becoming the must-attend Winter event in the Maranoa and sets the scene for the club’s remaining meetings this year culminating in the iconic Club Hotel Roma Cup meeting on November 19th” he added. “Plans are already under way for this year’s Cup meeting with triple Melbourne Cup winning jockey Glen Boss and racing identity Mick Sharkie lined up as special guests at the Calcutta the night before.”

Roma’s next race meeting will be the Cities RLFC Race Day on July 13th which coincides with the Roma Cities Premiership Reunion function, where past Gladiators will be on hand to celebrate various premiership victories of the past including the Under 19’s in 1964, 1984 and 1994; the Under 16’s titles in 1994 and 2014; the 10 year Anniversary of the Under 18’s in 2014; and the 20 year celebration for the 2004 A Grade Premiership. For tickets, click HERE  

Race photos supplied by Three Way Photos – for race day images, visit; email; or phone 0497577565 

Additional photos courtesy of Katarina Silvester Photography and Light & Land Photography

Race replays courtesy of Racing Queensland