Trainer has new idea for Writer

HIGH-PROFILE galloper Writer will be an absentee from Saturday's Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Yeppoon after being allocated 63kg top weight with trainer David Stafford being unable to locate a suitable claiming apprentice.

Consequently, Stafford has set Writer an ambitious program whereby he will contest an Open Handicap (1350m) at Doomben on November 5 which will determine his next assignment, the $80,000 LR Brisbane Handicap (1615m) there a fortnight later.

Knowing all too well he is aiming high with Writer, young Stafford is covering all options by sourcing Brisbane's Brad Stewart for the rides as he has won on the horse in Rockhampton.

Stafford is also making plans to have Writer transported to Brisbane early next week so he can settle in to his new surrounds.

With the local jockey shortage exacerbated following Donna Philpot's untimely horse-related knee injury from Tuesday, the Yeppoon Turf Club (YTC) president Greg Simpson has applied to Racing Queensland Limited (RQL) to split Saturday's QTIS Maiden (900m).

The race has attracted 20 entries and can start 12 horses and on Simpson's count there will only be nine jockeys available.

"I've been on to RQL and requested to split the Maiden. After all, we lost a race meeting here in August and the jockey shortage is dire," Simpson said.

"We just can't have owners and trainers having to scratch because they can't get a rider. If necessary or club will contribute $3000 towards the division of the race.

"There is no TAB betting, so it shouldn't matter about field size if it is split. What is important and a good PR exercise for racing is that people can get a start with these maiden horses."

Furthermore, in a means of assisting trainers, the YTC has got experienced Sunshine Coast jockey Leanne Henry to ride at Keppel Park.

In weighing up his decision to miss Keppel Park with Writer, trainer Stafford said he regretted having to do so as he appreciated very much what the YTC did for racing.

"I'm starting another horse there on Saturday. I knew Writer would cop his share of weight but with apprentices Carly-Mae Pye and Kayla Cross away on Saturday there just wasn't anybody else," Stafford said.

Pye rides the Tim Cook trained Huss at Doomben where the trainer's horror run with barrier draws has stuck as the in-form sprinter drew gate 13 in the $45,000 NMW (1200m).

Satisfactory nominations have been received for both Gladstone and Rockhampton races next Tuesday with the former racing from 10.30am at 30-minute intervals and Rockhampton starting at 2.25pm.

The current jockey shortage is very much in mind of officials from both clubs and the schedule allows jockeys to service both centres.

Mackay jockey Nathan Patchett has advised he is available for rides at the Rockhampton meeting.

Chief Steward Luke Collins goes bush on Saturday to Barcaldine races to catch-up with jockey Rhett Bellert and continue the inquiry into his riding of second placegetter Reigning To Win over the concluding stages of an Emerald races on October 8.