Jillena Silver is in training with Leo Roche in run up to Warwick Races tomorrow.
Jillena Silver is in training with Leo Roche in run up to Warwick Races tomorrow. Gerard Walsh

Country racing in need of shake-up

MASSIE horse trainer Leo Roche reckons its time for Racing Queensland to allocate more country races in the state.

Roche nominated two horses for the Warwick Turf Club races at Allman Park tomorrow.

There are 79 starters in six races tomorrow, the most outside a cup or Boxing Day meeting in recent years.

His four-year-old gelding Jillena Silver was 20th on the list in the nominated race and his mare Maria Lurina 29th.

Jillena Silver is second emergency in the first race, the 800-metre maiden and on the law of averages, is a fair chance to get a start.

Marina Lurina was balloted out as there were more acceptances than spots in the field or as emergencies.

A week earlier, he nominated the mare at the Gold Coast and she was 49th on the list when only the top 12 after acceptances got a start.

“I would like to see more country racing for lesser class horses,” Roche said.

“A lot of people are pulling out, it costs a lot to train a horse and what’s the point if you are not getting races. You can’t keep horses up forever.”

He believes both horses have the ability to win a maiden but isn’t claiming either is a world beater.

“A racehorse shows you something when you break them in,” he said.

“They all like a trip to the races and soon let you know if they are sore.

“You have to be very patient with horses.”

Jillena was bred at The Hermitage by owner Bruce Rielly.

“He is a little horse who is just learning and needs a couple of more starts (to see how he goes),” Roche said.

Maria Lurina is owned by Roche’s son Daniel and has the same christian names as Daniel maternal grandmother.

“Daniel will be excited if Maria Lurina can win a race,” Roche said.

“He (Daniel) does pretty well by getting the mare trained for nothing.”

Roche is serious about his training.

He uses two small tracks on the family property at Massie for training and also heads to the Allman Park Racecourse twice a week for training on a longer track.

Roche was hit twice by the floods.

While the sand track was washed away but has now been restored at Allman Park, he also had damage to his own tracks on the farm.

He treats his horses differently to some.

While many city racehorses spend most of their lives in a stable, Roche has a small paddock and shelter for each of his horses.

“I like to keep them as free as possible,” he said.

If a horse doesn’t come up to scratch, which in racing means winning prize money, he said many were lovely and quiet and would be good for stock work or equestrian sports.

“I have sold a few for dressage to Brent Eastwell, of Willowvale, who is a beautiful dressage rider and good at getting them going.”

Due to the large number of nominations, an extra race has been added to the program tomorrow. There are capacity fields in each race, except the last which has 13 nominations rather than the allowed 14.

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