Veteran FNQ mare could be on verge of retirement

When Cairns finance broker Don Martin bought a tried horse named Our Chiquilla three years ago, little did he know she’d be still racing as a rising 10-year-old.

Our Chiquilla – a Scott Sheargold mount – lines up for her 70th start and will be chasing win number 10 in the Open Handicap over 6 f at Innisfail on Saturday.

She has won six times in 35 starts for Cairns trainer Scott Cooper, who took her over following her final run for Gold Coast trainer Maryann Brosnan in July of 2019.

Our Chiquilla started her career with Darren Weir in Victoria before being moved on to Brosnan, who did not win a race with her in only three starts.

Martin is a not a breeder and loves the racing game and, according to Cooper, has no plans to retire her – just yet.

"I was speaking to Don on Tuesday and we've decided this would be her last start this campaign as she's been in the stables since last February," Cooper said.

"At this stage she'll come back into work after a break and if she's still going well she'll continue to race, otherwise she'll be retired."

Cooper has seven horses in work and Martin is his major client, owning six.

"I like to give my numbers around seven," Cooper said.

"I work as a farrier and I once had 12 horses in work but I've found if you have too many you start to cut corners."

Cooper is confident Our Chiquilla will be highly competitive following her last start second to the Sharlee Hoffman-trained Sylvester in a 1010 metre Open Handicap at Mareeba on Boxing Day.

"When you're in Open company it's hard to find suitable races and the 1010 metre race was a bit short for her last time," Cooper said.

"The winner that day was a 1000 metre horse and she'll go a lot better stepping out to 1200 metres.

"Sharlee Hoffman has two in the race - Call Me Mo and Sylvester– and they look the ones to beat."

Now based in FNQ, Cooper was a former jockey in Victoria with his best win in an Albury Cup before weight ended his career in the saddle.

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