Conjuring some Black Magic
By TONY WHITE
AT 2.05pm today, emotions will be running high for apprentice jockey Leanne Frankland.
The bereaved 31-year-old partner of trainer and former top jockey Alan Abrahams, tragically killed in a car accident just outside Grafton on Monday morning, will ride Runyo in the In Memory Of Alan Abrahams Maiden (1600m) at the Grafton TAB race meeting.
Winning the event would mean more to Frankland than victory in world famous races like the Melbourne Cup or Golden Slipper. Runyo was formerly trained by Abrahams, the ever-smiling 39-year-old who was nicknamed 'The Black Pearl'. Abrahams was due to turn 40 on September 17.
Two other horses under Abrahams' Black Magic Racing banner ? Dan's Gold (Darron Coleman) and Turkey Sandwich (Terry Treichel) ? will also contest the race. The three horses are now under the care of Stephen Beetson.
Frankland will wear the Black Magic Racing silks aboard Runyo. Coleman and Treichel will wear similar colours and jodhpurs with Abrahams' name emblazoned on them.
"Words couldn't describe what winning the race would mean, not for me but for Alan," Frankland said yesterday.
"If Runyo can't win, I'm praying one of the other two can."
It's been a traumatic week for Frankland and Abrahams' close friend and foreman, Peter 'Strap' McLellan.
"Yeah, it's been a very tough week, hard on everybody, but I know Alan would want me to be there, be there riding, doing what he taught me," Frankland said.
"I'm trying to focus, we're all just trying to keep batting on, just one foot in front of the other.
"Whatever happens it's going to be a very special day. Alan was a beautiful person, the best."
Frankland will use a special trophy momento whip of Abrahams aboard Runyo and also aboard Lord Tallun who will contest race six, the Busways Class Two Hcp (1000m).
Grafton's close-knit racing community has rallied around Frankland and McLellan, offering support and she has received calls from Abrahams' many friends from all parts of Australia.
Ironically 21 years to the day (August 29, 1984) before Abrahams' death, as a 3kg apprentice he rode his first metropolitan winner ? Spring Pleasure ? for friend, Wangaratta trainer Wayne Nichols, in Melbourne.
"Strap and I would just like to thank everyone for the incredible support and offers of help, par- ticularly Stephen Beetson, Craig and Kristy Franklin and Debbie Trenbath," Frankland said, "we have really appreciated everything.
"When things settle down, Strap will probably apply for a trainer's licence so we can keep Black Magic Racing going. Alan would have wanted that."
Beetson said he was honoured to take over Abrahams' team of horses.
"I'm very honoured, it's a pleasure to have Alan's horses race under my name," Beetson said.
"Alan and I ended up good friends. He rode my first winner for me, Totally Diamonds at Grafton on September 13, 2003.
"He was just a terrific, lovely bloke. Always smiling and the same whether it was at five in the morning or five in the afternoon.
"I just like to add my congratulations to Leanne and Strap for their professionalism at a very difficult time.
"Leanne got back in the saddle on Wednesday morning and rode at the trials. It's a hell of a thing to do to stick with what's got to be done and look after the horses. I don't know whether I could have done it but she has. They've done a hell of a job holding it together."
Beetson best portrayed the enormity of Abrahams' death describing trackwork on Tuesday morning.
"It was just like everyone was walking around like zombies with a hole in their heads, totally gutted," he said. "It broke everyone down. It was frightening."
If Frankland can win, Damien Oliver's whip thrust to the heavens after Media Puzzle's 2002 Melbourne Cup win in honour of his deceased brother Jason is about to be repeated, Grafton style.
A funeral service will be conducted for Abrahams at the Apostolic Church, Kingston, Brisbane at 11am next Tuesday. Abrahams will be burried alongside his mother.
Frankland said a memorial service would be conducted at the Anglican Church in Tyson Street, South Grafton at 2pm next Friday followed by a wake at the Grafton District Bowling Club.