Day At The Track

Harness racing with Denis Smith

11:01 AM 16 Dec 2017 NZDT
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QT trot columnist and harness racer Denis Smith.
QT trot columnist and harness racer Denis Smith.

Time is a great leveller and the last act is to remove us from this life. In so doing, "time'' makes the Duke and his gamekeeper equal, as both are dust. Last Sunday, "time'' took a "game keeper” and elevated him to freedom from pain.

Col McDougall was born at Ipswich Hospital on July 1, 1944 and was reared at Churchill in the company of Spellekens' and McCoombes' where trotting was firmly entrenched.

His first job was with Brisbane City Council at the Mt Crosby water treatment plant, residing there for a period.

Later, Col returned to Churchill and drove a truck on Ipswich City Council for a great part of his working life.

He married Faye Spelleken and the couple raised two fine children in Julie and Bradley.

When I first encountered Col, he was renting a couple of stables at Noel Spelleken's property at Three Mile and working a couple of pacers each and every afternoon.

The horses raced at Ipswich Showground and Rocklea on Saturday afternoon.

Col loved his horses, loved his wife and kids, and most of the people that he was associated with.

He was the bloke that harness administrators classify as a "hobbyist”.

He put in countless hours with average stock, accepting defeat on the racetrack as a part of life, yet never losing heart.

He never lost sight of the "bunny of success” chasing hard all the way.

Taken in context, his stats are not that shabby. As a trainer, he had 1356 starters for 78 winners, 264 placings and $137,378.

In the sulky, Col went around on 705 occasions for 34 wins and $50,000 in the bank.

His best season was 1988/ 89, hitting the bullseye eight times.

His best horse may have been Slippery Lobell, bred by local owner/breeder/ trainer Bill Crosby.

A shocking accident at Rocklea, when a horse reared up at the start and fell across Col crushing him to the track caused severe injury, probably wrecking his harness aspirations.

As so often happens, the occurrence seemed to trigger a long chain of health issues, culminating last Sunday.

Col was the man you wanted to see coming when you were broken down by the roadside or needed help in other ways.

"I'll give you a hand mate” was his watchword, and while he would argue the leg off a table on some matters, his word was very much his bond.

While Col may have been one of life's "gamekeepers”, his depth of character made him a Duke.

Corruption crackdown

THE Queensland Racing Integrity Commissioner has welcomed the decision to charge a harness racing code participant with perjury.

"The Racing Crime Squad has charged Mathew Neilson with perjury following evidence he gave at a Crime and Corruption Commission hearing,” Commissioner Ross Barnett said.

"The Racing Integrity Commission is working hard to restore integrity to harness racing and where we can enlist the help of other law enforcement agencies we will.

"I'd like to thank the CCC for its support.''

The Commissioner has previously suspended 35-year-old Neilson's harness driver and training licences after he was charged with match fixing last month.

Ten people associated with harness racing in Queensland have now been charged with match fixing and other offences as a result of the work of investigators involved in Operation Oscar Swallowtail, including a 65-year-old Yeronga man who was arrested at the weekend.

"It's important to remember that those charged so far only represent a small proportion of the total participants in the sport,'' Commissioner Barnett said.

"Law-abiding participants can be assured that confid- ence in the harness racing code will improve once the race fixers are identified, charged, convicted and banished from the sport.”

Big Marburg program

IT'S the entry to the festive season, and what better way to kick it off than the Marburg trots today.

A big nine-race program is on offer with Santa, lollies, and a jumping castle for the kids coupled with a monster raffle, $1350 "pick six” jackpot and $100 gate draw.

Marburg is the place to be.

Gates open at 10am.

Admission is adults $5, members and pensioners $3, with race books $3.

Trials start at 10.40am with the first race at 11.40am.

Handy tips

SELECTIONS for Albion Park tonight.

R1: Box trifecta 2-6-10: Max Richter (G Dixon)-Overlap (P McMullen)-Jackaroo Bromac (A Sanderson).

R2: Quinella 4-10: Young American (M Grantham) and Stuunder (J Lee).

R3: E/w 1: Come Cullect (J Lee).

R4: Box trifecta 1-4-8: Im Norma Jean (P Greig)-Psychedelic (J Cremin)-Clintal Do (G Whitaker).

R5: Quinella 2-8: Top Trio (M Grantham) and Gas Monkey (C Geary).

R6: E/w 2: Lucifers Legend (T McCarthy).

R7: Quinella 2-7: Avonnova (M Dux) and Glenferrie Hood (P McMullen).

R8: Box trifecta in four 10-13-14-15: Blazing Under Fire (P McMullen)-Iona Grinner (R Morris)-Our Dainty Lady (D Graham)-Our Overanova (G Dixon).

R9: E/w 3: Horace Foxley (Trent Dawson).

R10: Box trifecta in four 1-4-5-6: Feel The Courage (P McMullen)-Chapter One (T Dixon)-Bettabeperfect (C Turpin)-Smokey Quartz (R Morris).

Marburg picks today: R1 - 2-1-5. R2: 1-6-2. R3: 5-1-8. R4: 1-6-4. R5: 4-7-9. R6: 1-6-4. R7: 2-4-5. R8: 8-3-1. R9: 3-2-7.

A very predictable leader board coming into Christmas. Most of the prezzies addressed "care of the lower Brisbane Valley”. Top trainer Darrell Graham had a healthy tally of five winners for the week. Narissa McMullen stood out in the sulky, getting home on four occasions.

Honour board

Albion Park, December 8: Rubys Bad Boy (Lachie Manzelmann for Darell Graham); Constantlysideways (Danielle McMullen for Bill Crosby); Firebby (Danielle McMullen for Christine Monte); Blazing Under Fire (Pete McMullen for Blake Fitzpatrick); Mach Torque (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin).

Albion Park, December 9: I'm Johnny Jet (Brittany Graham for Darrell Graham); Django Mach (Narissa McMullen).

Warwick, December 9: My Ultimate Fella (Brittany Graham for Darrell Graham); Machbino (Nikki Chalk for Tess Neaves).

Albion Park, December 12: El Swavo (Clint Sneddon for Karen Bennett); Donny Jones (Taleah McMullen for Ron Wells); Our Mels Dream (Narissa McMulen for Ron Sallis); Horace Foxley (Trent Dawson for Tahn Camillieri ); Bet I'm Special (Danielle McMullen for Shannon Price).

Redcliffe, December 13: Georgia Grace (Adam Sanderson for Shawn Grimsey); No Confession (Narissa McMullen for Tayla Gillespie); Stuunder (Narissa McMullen for Shane Sanderson); Punters Delight (Dylan Ferguson for Ron Sallis); Its All Go (Sheree Tomlinson for Matt Elkins); Western Falcon (Narissa McMullen for John McMullen).

Redcliffe, December 14: Mighty Montana (Darrell Graham); Mister Hart (Darrell Graham); Heavens Hint (Pete McMullen for Stewie Dickson).

by TROT TACTICS with Denis Smith

Reprinted with permission of The Queensland Times

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