The 'presents' keep coming for popular Hawkesbury Race Club chairman Ken Quigley.
Quigley celebrated his 70th birthday with family and friends at a surprise function at his club’s Saturday race meeting on September 1, then celebrated again on Tuesday as a part-owner of Nowra winner Azcannyaz, trained by his daughter and son-in-law Tara and Philippe Vigouroux.
And Quigley and chief executive Greg Rudolph will report a record profit to Hawkesbury members at the club’s annual general meeting at the end of the month.
For once, Azacannyaz ($5) didn’t finish second in yesterday’s Benchmark 58 Handicap (1200m) at the Nowra TAB fixture – but it very nearly came that way again. Rider Winona Costin got the six-year-old Canny Lad gelding away smartly from the barrier and settled him at leader Sanctuary Cove’s girth.
Azcannyaz took a narrow lead on straightening before being strongly challenged by $3.70 favourite Zioptimus.
Just as Azcannyaz looked likely to notch what would have been the 15th second placing of his career, Costin managed to get him to kick well enough to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and narrowly edge out Zioptimus to clinch his third victory.
Quigley wasn’t trackside to see the gelding avoid another second placing, and was an anxious TV viewer.
“I haven’t been in the horse for all his 14 seconds,” Quigley said. “New Zealand owner Brian Black raced him initially, and then I bought an interest later when he decided to sell him.
“I’ve been in Azcannyaz for only a few seconds, but he’s been a frustrating horse alright. I remember he started odds-on at Taree one day (December 6, 2016) and looked certain to win until Robert Thompson caught him on a horse ($17 chance Western Saga) which had been unplaced in a Maiden at the annual Louth meeting a few months earlier.”
Azcannyaz rang up seven seconds before finally breaking through – in a 1200m Maiden at Cowra on January 8 last year. That was a memorable day for the stable, not simply because Azcannyaz had finally made it to the winning post ahead of his rivals.
Uncle Sugar (which Quigley also part-owns) won the Cowra Cup. Leading country jockey Greg Ryan rode both Team Vigouroux winners.
Azcannyaz’s other victory was in a Class 1 Handicap (1280m) a Muswellbrook on April 1 this year when ridden by apprentice Mikayla Weir. The gelding’s 36-start career includes the three wins and 17 placings (including those remarkable 14 seconds).