Day At The Track

McCarthys to continue dominance

09:02 AM 22 Oct 2014 NZDT
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For A Reason 1_20131214.jpg SLIPNSLIDE
For A Reason will head the McCarthy assault
Slipnslide

Regardless of form, or draw, the safe bet in Saturday night’s Queensland Pacing Championship – which doubles as the beginning of harness racing’s Grand Circuit – is McCarthy.

Which McCarthy is harder to select, but given the family’s history with the feature, picking the right one is likely to be the best wager of the night at Albion Park.

The McCarthys have won seven of the past eight editions of the Group One, beginning with Cobbity Classic in 2004.

Trained by the elder statesman, John, Cobbity Classic was driven by his son, Luke.

Luke then trained and drove Slipnslide to glory in 2005 and ‘06, with John finishing third on both occasions with Be Good Johnny.

Four years later Luke repeated the dose with Mr Feelgood, which was too classy in 2010 and ‘11.

John finished second with Washakie in 2010 and fourth with the same pacer the following year.

The father and son joined forced to score with Washakie in 2012 before John combined with Luke’s trainer-wife, Belinda, to win with Ideal Scott last season.

Only Natalie Rasmussen’s two wins with Blacks A Fake in 2008 and ’09 have stopped the McCarthys during the past nine years.

The race was not run in 2007 due to the Equine Influenza breakout.

As for their latest assault on the time-honoured event, the McCarthys boast four runners – two from John’s team and two from Belinda’s stable.

John will partner Blazin N Cullen from barrier six, with Bart Cockburn to take the reins behind Machtavish, which has drawn gate nine.

Belinda’s brother-in-law, Todd, will drive Our Hi Jinx, which has drawn the pole, while Luke is sticking with For A Reason from three.

The leading prospect of the quartet, For A Reason is expected to be at his peak following two eye-catching runs from a spell.

Finishing fourth on both occasions, the son of Art Major is no stranger to top shelf glory at the circuit, having captured the Queensland Derby in 2010.

Rejuvenated pacer Avonnova shapes as the candidate most likely to halt the McCarthy onslaught for local trainer Ian Gurney.

Successful in last week’s Gold Coast Cup, which saw Blazin N Cullen, For A Reason and Machtavish among the beaten brigade, Avonnova faces a tougher task from barrier five.

Another son of Art Major, Avonnova was named Queensland Horse of the Year last Sunday, with a victory this weekend the perfect complement to his new title.

  • PAUL COURTS

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