As it stands, Darrel Graham is happy to stay local.
The astute horseman faces a potential embarrassment of riches in the coming weeks with his latest Kiwi import Five Card Draw.
The former New Zealand two-year-old pacer of the year has recorded back-to-back Albion Park victories and looks destined to race through his grades after arriving on a luxurious assessment.
Five Card Draw scored comfortably last start in the $20,000 Seymour Rising Stars Championship Final at Albion Park on March 15 defeating in-form pacers Major Moment and Chevals Clivesdale in a time of 1;57.8 for the 2138m while finishing off in 55.6 seconds.
While those times read impressively, you would expect nothing less from a pacer that has banked more than $340,000 before his arrival in Queensland last month.
So, which option will connections consider given the feature events that loom in the coming weeks.
The $20,000 Seymour Series appear regularly on the Queensland calendar while the $50,000 Carousel series begins at TABCORP Park, Menangle in Sydney next month.
“We will stay local and race at Albion Park in the Seymour events; they’re programmed every week and there on our doorstep rather than heading south. I’ve won a Carousel previously (Rollon Bigred) and as much as I would love to win another one, it makes sense to stay local. These Seymour races are the best thing to happen in Queensland for a long time” Graham said.
Graham prepares a strong team at his Fernvale property, west of Brisbane, and while he has never been frightened to travel interstate with a team horses before, logistics have played a part in his decision making this time.
“If I went south with Five Card Draw, I would be away from home for a minimum period of three weeks and that carries costs obviously but if I remain at home I can target two of the Seymour Series during that time which probably balances everything out in a perfect world.
“Don’t get me wrong, we will be travelling later this year but the timing is not right now. I have plenty in work including two-year-olds and I want to focus on them while the stable stars are all back in work, that places plenty of pressure on Linda (wife) plus Adam (Sanderson) and Brittany (daughter) if I head off next month.
“I’m keen to head to Victoria later this year to tackle the Vicbred series plus the Australasian Breeders Crown series with horses like Five Card Draw, Montana Marie and Major Sam.”
Five Card Draw will contest a heat of the Seymour Rising Stars Championship Series next Tuesday before, all going to plan, progressing to the $20,000 final on Saturday week.
Meanwhile, star performers Montana Marie, Emperor Montana and Montana Falcon are all back in full work and pleasing as they go through a cantering stage with a racetrack return penciled in for May which will coincide with the Brisbane Winter Carnival.
Another former Kiwi pacer that has created a strong impression is the richly talented three-year-old Major Sam.
Arriving in November last year, the Major In Art colt has won seven of his fourteen starts and amassed more than $80,000 in prizemoney.
“He’s actually Vicbred eligible plus he staked for the Breeders Crown series so his major targets come at the backend of the season, the Queensland Derby in July is another target for him.
“He’s only just come back into work following a let-up and I’m thrilled with his condition. He has definitely become taller while he has really thickened up nicely.”
Major Sam has been back in work for two weeks.
By Chris Barsby (Courtesy of Harness Racing Australia)