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Catch up on the weekend’s harness racing action in our weekly review, thanks to Darren Clayton.   THE GOOD The recently married Ben and Tamara Battle are putting their faith in Queensland harness racing, with the young couple recently purchasing a property at Peak Crossing. Originally from the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales, Battle spent a long period learning the ropes from Bathurst-based Bernie Hewitt, picking up plenty of skills and opportunities. Branching out from Bernie and Cath Hewitt’s stable to start his own team in the 2015/16 season, Battle set up a stable from Goulburn. With moderate success in those early years, two of the better horses in the team were sent north to the stables of Grant Dixon, with Whiskey Blaze and Soho Shanghai seemingly reaching their ‘mark’ in New South Wales. “I own both of those and it was becoming harder to find suitable races for them so thought I would send them to Grant to see how they would perform in Queensland,” Ben Battle said.  Whiskey Blaze proved that he could still be a force, with the gelding claiming five victories when prepared out of the State’s leading stable. Soho Shanghai also proved more than capable, securing three victories in his time with the Dixon stable. That led to a conundrum for Ben and Tamara in what to do looking to the future. Goulburn is home to some big stables and being an easy commute from Menangle sees the big stables often making the trek down the Hume to compete there on race day. “I had a few horses in the team who needed to head to Queensland,” Battle said. “Tamara and I had a chat and said ‘do we just send them up here to other trainers or do we make the move and bring them ourselves’. “So, we flew up one weekend and had a look at the property we knew was available and made the decision we would relocate.” After originally setting up the stable at Toorbul, the Battles had to make a financial decision to move again to Caboolture. All the time though, the pair have been on the lookout for a property to purchase and call their own. That search came to fruition recently with a property coming to market at Peak Crossing and after negotiating a deal, Ben and Tamara have settled and will move to their new home in October. The 116-acre property already has a 16-box stable block, stallion yards and a deep swim, something that Ben is looking forward to being able to utilise. “I had access to a swim when we were in Goulburn, but you could only use it half the year - the other half you had to break through the ice if you needed it,” Battle said. “The swim will be really good, it will just add another option to our training and is something that is so beneficial to the horses, particularly the older horses in looking after them”. The property size will also allow Battle to focus on another area that he is keen to build on - the education of yearlings. New to Queensland in early 2019, he completed the early education of just two yearlings, however that jumped to 11 in 2020 and the goal is to get that number to 20 in the new year. “It is something that I get a lot of enjoyment from and that first year, Justa Little Bit was one of them,” Battle said. That current two-year-old had a strong debut season, registering three wins from his six starts and was second in the QBRED Breeders Classic behind subsequent Triad winner Big Wheels. With an astute mentor of the ‘babies’ in Bernie Hewitt, Battle is looking forward to what the new year may bring from his Peak Crossing stable. “When I was with Bern there was plenty to learn, if I didn’t learn something it would have been a waste of time being there,” Battle said.   THE BAD The COVID pandemic has had an effect in most facets of life and for Tamara and Ben, it has been no different. Originally scheduled to be married in April, the couple postponed the nuptials along with a honeymoon booked for Singapore and The Maldives. Weddings are stressful at the best of times; throw in a Global Pandemic into the mix and it certainly becomes a trying time. Rescheduling the date of the big day to late August, the dreaded C word would again play another part in becoming the Battles. An imminent border closure was again put forward by the Queensland Government, throwing the rescheduled plans into disarray once again. Not to be deterred, Ben and Tamara, just like their move North, put faith in themselves and decided the wedding would be brought forward - immediately. Having only earlier that week signed the contract on the new property, now they were planning a wedding in three days. “On the Wednesday they said the border would be closing, so we got on the phone, rang everyone and said the wedding would be on the Saturday,” Battle said.  “It was great, but I certainly would not recommend it that’s for sure.” True testament to the regard that the young couple are held in, they had over 50 people make the trek north from New South Wales to attend their wedding with three days’ notice and an impending border closure. The Maldives may have been ruled out, but the young couple did manage to squeeze in a brief trip to Hamilton Island before heading back to the day-to-day of running a harness racing stable. If the past season results are anything to go by, the pair look set to capitalise on the move, preparing more winners. This latest season has been their best yet, preparing 25 winners with Ben also taking the opportunity to pick up outside drives, landing 37 wins for the season. Whiskey Blaze, one of those that probably has a lot to do with the move north is still racing and is still competitive. In-fact the gelding has scored another five victories since re-joining the Battle barn and is a last-start placegetter. Starting to build the numbers, they have six two-year-olds that will be ready to come into work once they move onto the new property. With most of the horses in the barn arriving from New South Wales, either with or since they moved, Ben is looking forward to having some QBRED-eligible horses in his barn. Add to that his goal of working with more young stock and expanding the racing team, be ready for the Battles to make their mark.   THE MILESTONE Mafuta Vautin claimed the 30th victory of his career on Saturday night at Albion Park, equalling the number of wins of his sire Rollon Bigred in the process. The chestnut is named after Rugby League legend Paul Vautin, Mafuta being a Swahili word that translated to English means ‘fat’. Trained by Darrel Graham, Mafuta Vautin was driven patiently by Angus Garrard who utilised the passing lane to perfection, claiming victory by a head. Garrard became the fifth driver to rein the gelding to victory, joining Darrel, Brittany Graham, Adam Sanderson and Grant Dixon who have all recorded a victory behind Mafuta Vautin. Rollon Bigred was prepared by Darrel Graham in all bar two starts throughout his career, taking the stable all through the eastern states chasing feature race glory. Highlights from his 30 career wins were victories in the two and four-year-old QBRED Triad Finals, the two and three-year-old QBRED Breeders Classic Finals, the Hamilton Cup and the Paleface Adios Stakes. Mafuta Vautin reached his 30th career victory at start 130, while it took his sire only 76 starts to reach the same feat. While Rollon Bigred achieved his career wins across eight different venues, Mafuta Vautin has been successful at just 3 tracks - Albion Park, Redcliffe and on two occasions, Gympie. Ashleysplace, the dam of Mafuta Vautin was also raced by the Grahams, with Darrel steering the mare to one victory prior to being retired to breeding duties. Highlighting the real family involvement, Mafuta Vautin is owned and was bred by Darrel’s wife, Linda. With Steph Graham having also trained the gelding to one victory, all members of the Graham family have been involved in some part of the success - areal Team Graham performance.   THE WILDCARD Kiwis Are Flying franked his trial performance when making a successful start to his Australian career last Tuesday at Albion Park. Finding the one x one trail from the second line, the Narissa McMullen-trained gelding powered home in a strong 55.3 second closing 800-metre split. The gelding is impeccably bred, out of the former star mare Kiwi Ingenuity, a winner of eleven races - four of those at Group 1 level - and over $500,000 in stakes. The win by Kiwis Are Flying was the perfect way to start a new association for McMullen, entrusted with the gelding via a recommendation from her mortgage broker. With Narissa and partner Matt Elkins having recently purchased a new property, the couple are in the process of developing the infrastructure to have a full training facility. In the process of acquiring the property, McMullen has also taken on some new horses that are starting to hit the track. Joining Kiwis Are Flying are Lets Go Better and The Fortunate Son as recent arrivals to Queensland. With Elkins recently having success with Paravani, the couple have plenty of hard work ahead in establishing their property, but they have the horse flesh behind them to capitalise upon. With success flowing season on season in recent years, they look set to entrench themselves in the Queensland harness scene for years to come.   THIS WEEK Tuesday’s Albion Park meeting will see the return of top filly Pelosi. Drawing awkwardly in barrier 7 and taking on older and experienced campaigners will make it tough for the dual Group 1 winner. The Anna Woodmansey-trained filly has been to the trials three times to prepare for her return, after struggling to find an ideal return race for Pelosi. Targeting the NSW Breeders Challenge for three-year-old fillies, Pelosi will be aiming to go back-to-back following her victory in the Group 1 two-year-old edition back in 2019. Elsewhere, track resurfacing has been completed at Marburg and Redcliffe that will see racing return to those venues. After forgoing racing at ‘The Triangle’ last week owing to the works, normal transmission will resume with Redcliffe hosting their regular Wednesday night timeslot. Consequently, this week’s schedule will see racing at Albion Park on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, with Redcliffe hosting meetings on Wednesday and Thursday. Saturday night at Albion Park will see the second of the Ultimate Tools sponsored age events. After the initial race was held for the two-year-olds, the three-year-olds will be catered for on this occasion. With no performance restrictions, the race carries stakes of $12,880, along with a rug and trophy to the winning connections and $250 to the winning trainer and driver thanks to Ultimate Tools. The winning trainer will also receive a $500 voucher.   Darren Clayton for Racing Queensland

A new-look TAB Queensland Summer Harness Racing Carnival is poised to finish the 2019/20 season in style after being released today. As announced earlier this year, the Group 1 Blacks A Fake - Queensland’s only Grand Circuit event for pacers – will headline the Summer Carnival with features to be held at Albion Park and Redcliffe throughout November and December. In total, 11 Group races will be staged across the Summer Carnival, including the $175,000 Blacks A Fake, with opportunities for pacers and trotters alike. While COVID-19 has significantly impacted this year’s racing calendar, RQ COO Adam Wallish said all roads would lead to Queensland to conclude 2019/20. “It’s a genuinely exciting TAB Queensland Summer Harness Racing Carnival that we’ve been able to pull together,” Mr Wallish said. “The presence of the Group 1 Blacks A Fake elevates this year’s carnival and provides one final opportunity for Australasia’s premier pacers to snare a Grand Circuit victory. “With the talent on display at the moment, it promises to be a must-watch affair. “Given the extension of the season to the end of the calendar year, we’ve made a concerted decision to programme opportunities for two-year-olds, three-year-olds, four-year-olds, as well as our open-class horses.” Having originally been slated for the TAB Queensland Constellations, the Group 2 DJA Trotting Championship returns to summer with the Final to be held at Albion Park on November 28. The new Trotters Sprint, staged over the flying 1660m, will be held a fortnight later. On the same night as the DJA, the Group 3 The Be Good Johnny Sprint will provide the perfect lead into the Group 2 Queensland Cup (December 5) and the Blacks A Fake (December 12). Albion Park Harness Racing Club Executive Manager Scott Steele said they were thrilled with this year’s carnival. “What an outstanding collection of feature races we have for our Summer Carnival,” Mr Steele said. “With the quality of horses that will be on display during the Carnival, I have no doubt Albion Park will be a sell out with the  corporate industry  taking the opportunity to host their Christmas parties at this ideal time. “Hopefully COVID-19 restrictions will be relaxed further by carnival time allowing us to showcase our industry to as many people as can be safely permitted.” In addition to the Group events, Redcliffe Harness Racing Club will round out the carnival, with the open class Christmas Cup to be joined by feature races for both two and three-year-olds. "The Redcliffe Christmas Cup is a great to finish off what has been a very trying racing season," Mr Ring said. "With no Derby or Oaks this year, it's pleasing to see the Northgate Comfort n Suites Redcliffe Guineas and a further $10,000 Open feature." Click here to see the full programme for the 2020 TAB Queensland Summer Harness Racing Carnival.   Racing Queensland

World renowned operatic tenor Rosario La Spina had every reason to be hitting the high notes in Brisbane earlier this week! La Spina, along with his father Alf and family, are passionate harness racing owners and they would have been applauding the performance of their talented pacer Crunch Time (Somebeachsomewhere-The Arch Nemesis (Jeremes Jet) at Albion Park on Tuesday. The youngster, prepared by astute Menangle horseman Rickie Alchin, set a new track record for three-year-olds at Albion Park, stopping the clock at 1.51-1 for the 1660 metre trip with Nathan Dawson in the sulky. His time shaved a second off the previous record held jointly by Jiggle And Jive (January 24 this year) and Burnaholeinmypocket (July 4, 2015). To watch the replay of Crunch Time click here. The victory added to a highly rewarding northern campaign for Alchin, who has recorded 26 winners since making Redcliffe his base about five weeks ago. "This is the third year we've done the trip and this time we've rotated 12 horses through. It's been great because we've won with every horse with the exception of Puma Road, who has one more chance before we head back home," Alchin said. "I think we've got five more runners and then it's a case of pack up our suitcases on Sunday and that's it until next time," he said. Alchin said Crunch Time had the potential to develop into one of his best and would now be aimed at the Breeders Challenge in three weeks at Penrith. Crunch Time set a new 3yo track record at Albion Park this week  "He's a very nice horse and now a very fast one-he deserved that win because his previous start was great when he finished runner-up," he said. "We've had Crunch Time all along and he's contested every Group One series from the Gold Crown, APG heats and finals, the Gold Chalice and both NSW and Qld Derbies. "I drove him at his first few starts during this trip, but then decided to stick with Nathan (Dawson) who developed a good affinity with him. Let's just say the horse can be quirky, but Nathan knows all of his tricks!" Annual pilgrimages to the Sunshine State are now a fixture on the winter calendar of Alchin and his partner Nikki Pagan, thanks to their partnership with Crunch Time's owner Rosario La Spina and family. Brisbane born and raised, Rosario was a bricklayer in his family's business until a work accident when he was 23 gave him time to take singing lessons. The rest is history. Rosario was recommended to attend the conservatorium to study voice and gain stage experience and his career snowballed rapidly from the year 2000, leading him to roles with leading opera houses and orchestras all over the world. La Spina's wife is mezzo-soprano Milijana Nikolic, while his singer/songwriter sister is Anna-Maria La Spina. Although opera and harness racing might seem poles apart, Alchin said the La Spina family had an absolute love for the sport. "They have stables in Redcliffe near the track and we've got a holiday unit about five minutes away, so it all works out nicely," Alchin said. "They are fantastic owners - so loyal and passionate. All of them thoroughly enjoy the sport and it's great to see." Alchin said the northern trip this year was more about work than holiday. "But it's been great because Nikki got up here for a while and I did get to do a little bit of fishing," he said. "Our stable workers in Tom Downey and Ricky Hunt were supposed to come up, but the coronavirus situation prevented that. We couldn't have done it without them, though, because they kept the team of around 20 horses ticking over at home. "Nikki's loved it because she's continuing to show me up as a driver! She's been licensed for three years and doesn't do all that much race driving back home, but she's been on fire up here with nine wins and a second from 13 goes. "I think she saves herself for the winter trip in Queensland because she seems to drive with so much more confidence up here. But her overall strike-rate would be awesome-way better than mine!" Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura

Tact Bess, a New Zealand-bred daughter of Auckland Reactor, posted a new lifetime mark of 1:54.5 when she outsprinted a smart field at Albion Park on Saturday night (August 22). Starting from the No. 2 gate, the five-year-old enjoyed a saloon passage behind the leader before being switched down onto the passing lane. She won by 1.7 metres. Driven by Isobel Ross for trainer Grant Dixon, Tact Bess clocked 55.9 for the last 800 metres. To watch the video replay click here Out of a mare by New York Motoring, Tact Bess has now won 11 races and $65,233 in stakes. Auckland Reactor sired a winning double at Bunbury two nights earlier with Nuclear Power (1:58.9) and Madam Of Mischief (2:00). Auckland Reactor, who stands at Tony Peacock’s St Fort stud, Moama (NSW), has left 87 individual winners in Australia this season and they have won 193 races and $1.36 million in stakes. Peter Wharton

THE GOOD The Marburg to Albion Park Series’ are always popular and the latest running culminated with the Final held at Albion Park on Saturday night. With five heats held at Marburg on the preceding Sunday, the first two placed runners in each heat progressed through to Saturday’s Final, run over the Albion Park 1660-metre trip. The Dudley Warburton-trained ten-year-old Bukthsystem claimed the race, using the passing lane to arrive for victory in a new career best of 1.55.5. In another superb advertisement for the longevity of the standardbred, the PB came at start number 203, recording the 14th win of his career for the rising eleven-year-old. It was a well-deserved victory, with Bukthsystem having been in great form in recent times and backed up his heat win at Marburg. In a superb training feat, Bukthsystem has raced at least three times every month consecutively since July 2018. However, it has not always been smooth sailing with the gelding for his trainer. “When he was younger, he threw me out of the cart when he was playing up and I fractured two vertebrae in the accident, that’s why we gave him the name Buk,” Warburton said. “Even now he will pull hard and is keen in the preliminary, yet when he races, he never seems to pull that much.” And it was at the instruction of his driver Nathan Dawson that some gear adjustments in recent times seem to be paying dividends. Dawson also may have provided punters with a lead in opting to drive Bukthsystem in Saturday night’s final after having the choice of drives. “Nathan said to me on Wednesday night with a cheeky grin, by the way, I will be driving Buk on Saturday night because only a bad driver will get him beat,” the trainer said. That left Dudley with some nerves to overcome as he began to feel a little bit of pressure in breaking a Saturday night victory drought. Some light-hearted banter between trainers on the night added to the mix. With trainer Graham White stabled next to Warburton on Saturday, he had a light-hearted jibe with Dawson with regards to how many winners the leading driver had reined home until that point of the evening. “Nathan replied ‘no worries Whitey, I’m about to get my first’ which then made me feel some more nerves because after what he had said Wednesday as well,” Warburton said. Dawson delivered on the promise, with a perfect drive to score victory up the passing lane. It was the first Saturday night success for Warburton since the win of Itzallinthetimin back in 2012 and a win that he won’t forget in a hurry. “It will take a while for this happiness to wear off that’s for sure,” quipped Warburton. “I hope it’s not another eight years for my next Saturday night winner.” Asked as to what sort of regime keeps Bukthsytem racing so well and consistently for such a long period now, Warburton was more than happy to reveal his secret. “Old Buk is just such a beautiful horse, my wife has him looking superb all the time - she looks after that,” he said. “I mostly let the racing keep him fit and I think when I threatened him a while back when he wasn’t going so well, it got him back into form. “You see he was racing a bit flat and so I pulled Buk aside and threatened him with retirement! “That was just what he needed and he turned the corner.” The entire Warburton family is involved in equine pursuits of some form, with a son involved in rodeo and a daughter in quarter horses. Buk even has a miniature pony in the yard next to him at the stables and all the family both two and four-legged having a contribution to Bukthsytem and his journey. “Buk is such a great horse, he even picks his hay up and will carry it to the fence so the pony can share it with him - that’s just him, he is such a great character,” Warburton said. The next race for Bukthsystem now provides Warburton with another challenge, a dilemma that he is quite happy to be faced with!   THE BAD Happiness was quickly replaced with despair at Redcliffe on Thursday following the ‘win’ of Inciter in Race 3 - the Dan Costello Photography Pace. Owned and trained by Greg Elkins and driven by his son Matt, Inciter had been winless since December 9, 2018 heading into the race. Running down the straight, Inciter was first across the line, with Doolittle Dandy using the passing lane second over the line and Major Grandeur third. Delaying the all-clear to view the patrol film, connections of the third-placed Major Grandeur lodged a protest feeling they were hampered in the run to the finish by Inciter. Following the hearing, the stewards deemed the interference greater than the winning margin, amending the official results to Doolittle Dandy first, Major Grandeur second, and Inciter in third position. Not the best day for Elkins, who had two runners in for the day; his other Tearaway Diamond also facing the ire of the stewards, banished to the trials for breaking in running.   THE WILDCARD Some people enjoy a stiff drink as a pick-me-up, and for Gail Geeson Scotch En Ice would have been the ideal tonic, with the two-year-old claiming a maiden breaking victory last Tuesday. With Geeson battling ill-health, Scotch En Ice was sent to Darren Weeks and Kylie Rasmussen to prepare. With Gail and husband Vic Frost cutting back on the workload, the COVID situation also became a factor with their stables based in Northern New South Wales at Sleepy Hollow. Scotch En Ice - a gelded son of Hurrikane Kingcole - had shown a win was not far away, having placed in two of his previous three starts. The victory last Tuesday came at his fifth career start, leading all the way in scoring a 10.8m victory in a slick 1.55.9 mile rate. With a QBRED first win bonus for Scotch En Ice, he became the seventh winner from nine foals to race for his dam Frostiness. In some bittersweet symmetry, it was also the first winner ranking Frost’s champion Westburn Grant as the sire or damsire since the dual Inter Dominion winner passed away back in late June.   THE MILESTONE The boutique stable of Stephen Cini ticked off a milestone at last Tuesday’s Albion Park meeting with the victory of Mymatepog. Scoring victory in a new personal best over the mile of 1.53.9, the win saw Cini notch up a half-century of winners for the season. Last reaching 50 winners in a term back in the 2009/10 Season with 71, the 2019/20 Season results have been returned at an impressive strike-rate. Following the win on Tuesday, Cini’s figures were 50 wins and 75 placings from 335 starters, equating to a 14.9% win and 37% place strike-rate. With only a small team, the Season has been highlighted by multiple wins from the stable including Garland Greene (seven wins), The Cruise Missile (six), The Doorman (five), The Money Ball (five), Quietly Spoken (five) and no doubt the source of tremendous frustration, Macey Jayde (four).   THIS WEEK Following the two heats of the Australian Pacing Gold Brisbane Sales Graduates, this Saturday night will see the $100,000 Group 1 Final take place. The first five across the line from each heat have progressed to the Final, with heat one winner Jasper looking mighty impressive and every bit an Oaks filly for next season. In the second heat, Chamonix made it a double for Dixon/GSM Racing trainer/owner combination and will be hoping to draw a good barrier for Saturday’s Final to challenge his stablemate. Friday’s card at Albion Park will also see the inaugural running of the QBRED Trotting Finals; a $10,000 event for the two-year-olds and a $10,000 event for the three-year-olds will be held, confirming the commitment at growing the square gait population in Queensland following on from the Springboard Series. Next Monday (August 17) will see a meeting conducted at Redcliffe, with nominations closing on Wednesday August 12. Races are programmed at $3,499 with all races also carrying a QBRED cash bonus should the winner be an eligible QBRED horse.   by Darren Clayton

SPRINGBOARD TO SUCCESS Friday night saw the running of the Springboard Series Finals for both the two and three-year-old trotters at Albion Park. It was the second running of the two-year-old series, with victory claimed by the filly Aldebaran Selena. Having claimed the 1628-metre track record in winning a heat of the Series, the daughter of Majestic Son lowered that mark once again in claiming the Final. Showing clean manners, the filly stepped straight to the front and was never bothered thereafter, trotting safely in scoring a four-metre victory over Defensive Guy, with Okanagan a further 18 metres away in third place. Trained and driven by New South Welshman Rickie Alchin, Aldebaran Selena looks to have a bright future and looks set to pave the way for continued growth of the juvenile trotter in Queensland. Meanwhile in the three-year-old division, Indefensible was looking to add the 3YO Series to his 2YO victory in this Series last year. However, the Terry Hancock-trained and Narissa McMullen-driven Aurora was the worthy winner, with a perfect display in front. Stepping straight to the front, the fill led throughout to take the inaugural Springboard for the three-year-olds. A model of consistency throughout the series, she has been faultless in her manners, stepping cleanly on every occasion. Giving nothing a look-in from the front, Aurora cruised home to an 11-metre victory, making a clean sweep of the Series in the process after taking our all four heats.   THE GOOD Racing needs good stories and the tale of Maywyns Best fits that bill. The rising 11-year-old is in career best form for trainer Graham Dwyer and on Saturday night stretched Cruz all the way over the Albion Park mile, spearing out to lead from gate four with the speed on all the way. With the slick 3.3 lead time followed by a sizzling 26.6 second opening quarter, Pete McMullen kept the gelding rolling throughout. Despite having the sit on Maywyns Best, it took Cruz until deep into the stretch to reel in the leader, scoring a near two-metre victory. It was a brave effort by ‘Bestie’ who set the quarters of 26.6, 29.6, 27 and home in 27.7 to hold on for second. Having trained the gelding for a large portion of his career for previous owners Rob and Pam Essex, the opportunity to purchase the then eight-year-old out of a claiming race was too good to pass up for Dwyer. Despite an injury enforced five months on the sidelines immediately after being claimed, Dwyer and his team have rejuvenated the son of Blissful Hall. In a tremendous season, the gelding has scored eight wins and placed a further 12 times, while running a career best winning time of 1.51.0 on June 6. It has been a watershed season for Dwyer, who currently sits in sixth position in the State Trainers Title. Career best figures look set to rise by season’s end for Dwyer, currently leading in 64 winners and a further 102 placings.   THE BAD The Winter Carnival did not eventuate the way it was envisaged, but then again nothing in 2020 around the world has really gone to script. If anyone had suggested that Cruz would be the star of the revised Queensland winter, there may well have been people scoff at the suggestion. With his position on the pecking order seeing him down the line behind the likes of Cash N Flow, King Of Swing, Alta Orlando and Replaced Eye at his home barn, he was sent to Queensland in the hope of making hay while the winter sun shines. Not only did he re-gain winning form, the Craig Cross prepared pacer has taken all before him and on Saturday night was able to secure another race victory to stay undefeated in his three starts this campaign. Without doubt the highlight was his victory in the Wondai’s Mate Open Pace, when scorching around the Albion Park oval in a 1.50.4 mile rate. That effort saw him equal the track record once held outright by one of the greatest pacers ever, in the shape of Im Themightyquinn. Following his scorching mile, the gelding backed that up with another dominant victory in the Mr Feelgood over the 2138-metre trip, in a run that was not too far off the track record held by Bling It On. Completing the hat-trick with another slick mile victory on Saturday night when stopping the clock in a 1.50.8 mile, Cruz has been the bright light of the Cross stable in Queensland. Not bad for a horse that struggles to be in the top five at home!   THE WILDCARD Always In Command started favourite in the Mr Feelgood at Egmont Park Pace on Saturday night, despite going into the contest with a ‘duck-egg’ next to his name in four of his previous five starts. That didn’t deter punters however, who were keen to support the Donny Smith-trained gelding that looked the likely leader in the 1660m event. Eh Ef El - drawn in gate one - and driver Shane Graham had other plans and hustled hard with the benefit of the inside alley to repel the challenge of Always In Command through a lightning fast 26.6 second opening split. That left Nathan Dawson at the reins of Always In Command forced to cut the breeze. Content to hold that position, Dawson put the leader away at the 400-metre mark and looked to kick clear and breaking free of the pack, holding off the closing challenge of Sir Julian to score by a head. It was a new career PB for the eight-year-old, stopping the clock in 1.51.8 for the mile. It was the 10th success since being prepared by Smith, with the former Redcliffe track record holder proving he was Always In Command.   THE MILESTONE Taleah McMullen became the latest Queensland Centurion when steering Rancho Man to success at Marburg on Sunday. Heading into the meeting, the youngest of the four McMullen siblings was on 99 winners for the term and soon made the breakthrough to triple figures for the first time in her career. Second only to Angus Garrard on the Queensland Concession Drivers Premiership, Taleah became the second female to make it 100 driving wins for the season. In the process, Taleah has joined eldest sister Narissa and brother Pete in reaching 100 wins for the term. After searching the record books, it appears that it may well be the first time in Australian harness history that three siblings have all recorded triple figures in the same season. Highlights for the youngest daughter of John and Janette have been the success of her own horse Tommy Under Fire who returned from a break triumphant in late June. More pleasing for McMullen has been the fact that the Courage Under Fire gelding spent a long time on the sidelines and took plenty of care and rehabilitation to get him back to the track.   THIS WEEK Following the five heats of the Marburg to Albion Series held on Sunday, this Saturday will see the Final held on the Albion Park Saturday night card. Winners of the heats were Bukthsystem, Pago Pago, Rancho Man, Allstar Sea and Viewbytherock who will be looking to claim a second success after taking out the last of these popular events for trainer/driver/owner Megan Gee. Friday at Albion Park will also see heats of the Australian Pacing Gold, Brisbane Sales Graduate Series. Heats for the $100,000 Group 1 Final are restricted to those horses from the 2019 APG Draft entered for the Brisbane Sale. Recent QBRED Triad winner Jasper looks set to be a big player in the series, with Don Heston - a recent acquisition to the Grant Dixon stable - also looking like he will be one to watch.   Darren Clayton for Racing Queensland

Brilliant Lucky Chucky three-year-old filly Aurora completed a clean sweep of the Springboard Trotting Series at Albion Park when she scored an effortless win in the $15,000 Final last Friday (July 31). She led from end to end and won by 10 metres, clocking 59.3 for the last 800. Watch the win click here The filly had captured all four heats of the Series and from 10 lifetime starts she has won seven with two placings for $26,876 in stakes. Out of a Sundon mare, Aurora was bred by Eddy Bidder and is owned by Don Hancock. Lucky Chucky has the excellent record of eight winners and three placegetters from 13 starters in Australia. While in New Zealand, Lucky Chucky has left seven winners and six qualifiers from 26 foals three-year-old and older.  

A dozen new feature races will be introduced to the Queensland harness racing calendar from next month. A joint initiative of Racing Queensland and the Albion Park Harness Racing Club, the concept has been developed following industry feedback since the adoption of the National Ratings System. Among the most common requests from participants was increased opportunities for age-based stakes races to support two and three-year-olds throughout this part of their career. With the support of Ultimate Tools, RQ will programme six two-year-old races and a further six three-year-old races that will be conducted as a combination of $12,000 and $20,000 features. “The Queensland harness racing industry has done a great job innovating in recent times,” RQ COO Adam Wallish said. “We witnessed that earlier this year with the inaugural Trot Rods series and broadcast innovations such as driver cam. “Having conducted industry feedback, the need for Queensland to offer increased stakes opportunities for these young horses was heard loud and clear.” While horses will be free to capture as many of the $20,000 features as they can, they will be limited to one $12,000 win before being balloted out. In addition, Ultimate Tools will provide a $500 bonus to be evenly split between the driver and trainer, along with a further $500 voucher to the winning trainer. “It’s important for two-year-old and three-year-old horses to get the opportunity to race their own age for good stake money on a Saturday night,” Ultimate Tools’ Greg Mitchell said. “We are happy to partner with Albion Park and Racing Queensland to make this come to fruition.”  The inaugural two-year-old race will be held at Albion Park on Saturday, August 22 before the first three-year-old race is held on Saturday, September 19. Both age groups will host $20,000 features as part of a new-look Summer Carnival in December. “It is another great result for harness racing in Queensland,” APHRC Executive Manager Scott Steele said. “It’s been one of the consistent frustrations for trainers being able to place horses against their own ages, particularly three-year-olds. “We have listened to our racing participants and with the help of Racing Queensland and one of our partners, Ultimate Tools, these features have been born. Greg and Sharon from Ultimate Tools, long-time supporters of Albion Park, jumped at the chance to sponsor and we’re grateful for their support.”  Racing Queensland looks forward to making further announcements with regards to feature races for two and three-year-olds as part of the revised Summer Carnival that will this year feature the Grand Circuit TAB Blacks A Fake on December 12.   Racing Queensland

Experienced harness racing trainer Wayne Graham could be excused for having a wry smile after snaring the feature event for mares at Albion Park on Saturday night. Graham, who has been involved in the sport for over 50 years, took out the $25,660 Fleur De Lil Ladyship Stakes with five-year-old Justalittle Torque (Mr Feelgood-Torque In Motion (P B Bullville). "All along she has been a nice mare, but she has certainly stepped up. She's always had blistering speed-and now she's got strength as well," Graham said. He said winning the Ladyship Stakes had some irony about it. "We were the under-bidders on Fleur De Lil when she went through the Brisbane Yearling Sales in the mid-2000s. A friend of ours, Luke McCarthy, ended up with her and what a champion pacer she become." Fleur De Lil (Armbro Operative-French Flair (Preux Chevalier) retired as a "millionaire". The pacer posted 39 wins and 30 placings from 101 starts for $1,041,635 in stakes during a sensational race career. And while the win was a little ironic for the Grahams, the victory in the Queen of Hearts Pace the previous week by Justalittle Torque was also undoubtedly one for the armchair experts! The mare's victory has become one of the most-watched of Racing Queensland's successful "race-cam" innovation. Sky Racing shows snaps of vision from the sulky of each Albion Park event - but the full-race video of the mare bursting through the sprint-lane to victory, captured from the helmet of Shane Graham, is an exhilarating viewer experience. Watch the Helmet Cam vision click here:  Graham said the invitation to drivers to wear the race cam is known colloquially as the "kiss of death"! "That's what the local drivers call it - because the strike rate of drivers winning when they're wearing it seems to be a bit poor!" he laughed. "But it's a terrific promotion of the sport - it really does give everyday people a close-up view of the action from the sulky. It shows the speed of the animals and the closeness of racing, and it gets a lot of comment and interest from people who are watching it on Sky." Graham is based at Birnam, near Beaudesert, which is about one hour south of Brisbane, on a 360-acre farm that has been in the family for three generations and over 100 years. "My grandfather had horses on the place-but they were only draught horses that he used to plough the ground or chase cows," he said. "But when my parents took over, they combined dairy farming with racing a few pacers. My dad Tom (now 96 and in aged care) raced mainly at the old Rocklea and Ipswich tracks. "I suppose I started mucking around with horses when I was 10, but I was more into show jumping. Then three or four years on I began helping dad with his pacers. "My main income from harness racing for the first 20 or 30 years was the breaking-in side of it. It was something I enjoyed. The cow numbers eventually dropped away as it became a bit hard doing both them and the horses." Wayne, with the assistance of his wife Lyn, now train a team of 15. "Lyn works part-time as a nurse, but she's fantastic - and you know what they say about behind every man is a great woman!" he said. "And it's nice having our son Shane back driving for us. When he was sidelined I used Leonard Cain, Hayden Barnes and Paul Diebert. They were great, but Shane doesn't hold back and he tells me if one of my horses is doing something wrong or can be improved!" Victorious driver Shane Graham is with Justalittle Torque, prepared by his father Wayne. Graham said the recent form of one of the stable stars Justalittle Torque had been most exciting, with the mare winning both the $21,000 Queen Of Hearts Pace and then the Ladyship Stakes. "Her first start back from the break was a close-up second to the brilliant Colt Thirty One (Grant Dixon) in the Westburn Grant Open Pace and I thought that was tremendous," Graham said. "She followed that up with the two wins, so I couldn't be happier with her. She is a very good sit/sprint mare, but in saying that she is capable when leading as well. "I was really happy with her three starts at Menangle before she went for a spell as well. I went down for the Ladyship Mile, but had no luck in the lead-up race. She did win at her last run down there." Graham said Justalittle Torque was bred and owned by enthusiastic participant Ian Corazzol. "Ian loves the sport, probably more than anyone else I know. He names all of his horses with the moniker Torque," he said. "I have all four of the foals from her dam Torque In Motion (19wins including the Ladyship Mile; $380k) and all four were at the racetrack last week." In what was certainly an unusual event, Let's Torque A Deal (by Roll With Joe) ran 4th at Albion Park last Tuesday; Torque Is My Girl (Sportswriter) 3rd at Redcliffe, Wednesday; Torqueonetwothree (Hurricane Kingcole), Albion Park winner, Friday, and then Justalittle Torque, ditto on Saturday.   Terry Gange NewsAlert PR Mildura www.newsalertpr.com.au

Key Queensland two-year-olds Manila Playboy and Big Wheels rounded off their feature race target preparations with stylish trials yesterday (Friday) at Albion Park. Both youngsters are last start feature race winners and both are set to collide in next week’s Gr.1 $100,550 QBRED Triad 2yo Colts and Geldings Final at Albion Park. The Shane Fraser prepared Manila Playboy scored a dominant victory in the Gr.1 $100,750 Garrards Redcliffe Yearling Series Classic Final back on June 27 in a time of 1:57.3 His winning time created a new record at the triangular track for a two-year-old pacer. The Pet Rock – Bangkok Dancer gelding has won 3 of his 4 starts to date with his only blemish coming via the Listed $25,550 QBRED Breeders Classic Final at Albion Park on May 23 when making a break at the 400m mark when challenging hard for the lead. The winner of the QBRED Breeders Classic Final was Big Wheels. The Chantal Turpin trained Big Wheels hasn’t raced since his all the way victory that night but has had the benefit of two recent trials in lead-up to next week. Big Wheels has won 2 of his 6 starts to date. The A Rocknroll Dance – Washington Lass gelding is a full brother to Blacksadance, a runner in tonight’s Gr.2 $50,660 Garrards South East Derby. In the public trial, Big Wheels was able to run down open class trotter Garland Greene while Manila Playboy finished third after sitting back near the rear in the 1660m workout. The time was solid 1:55.7 Sectionals were timed in 29.1, 31.4, 27.5 and 27.9 seconds. And both youngsters recorded smart sectionals. The all-important barrier draws for both QBRED Triad Finals will be streamed live on the Racing Queensland Facebook page next Tuesday afternoon. The Gr.1 $100,550 QBRED Triad Finals, for the fillies plus the colts and geldings, headline the final night of the 2020 Albion Park winter carnival.   Chris Barsby

Chantal Turpin will launch a three-pronged attack on tomorrow night’s Group 2 Garrards South East Derby at Albion Park, but will need a slice of luck after Wednesday’s gate draw. Not surprisingly, Grant Dixon’s Group 1 superstar, Governor Jujon (5), has opened a short-priced $1.30 favourite, a justified price for a horse unbeaten this campaign, and three second placings the only blemishes on his otherwise flawless record. Turpin’s trio in Miss Ruby Sunshine (9), Blacksadance (10) and Will The Wizard (12) all drew the second row in Saturday night’s feature race, however, the trainer isn’t fazed by her luckless starting positions. “We were probably a bit disappointed, we would’ve liked to have got one drawn up the front but that’s what we’ve been dealt with and we’ll deal with it,” Turpin said. “Governor Jujon is a really good horse, and he’s drawn the front line which obviously helps him as well so I think that’s going to be very tough to overcome – as I said, he’s a very good horse.” Miss Ruby Sunshine holds a special place in Turpin’s heart, claiming the trainer’s 900th win in March of this year. The three-year-old filly has claimed six wins from just 17 starts and backs up again this week after running second behind Jenden Strike during last week’s Group 2 South East Oaks. “She probably has the better draw out of our three, and hopefully she can get a good trail through,” Turpin said. “I don’t think the quick back-up will affect her much at all, she’s been really good throughout the week and it looks like that run didn’t take much out of her. “Pete (McMullen) got the pick of the drives this week and he always drives Blacksadance and I actually normally drive Will The Wizard but I’ve opted for the filly – the girls stick together!”  Blacksadance will be gunning for his seventh career win with Turpin’s husband Peter McMullen in the seat, and comes into Saturday’s race a last-start winner at Albion Park a week ago. More encouraging is a second placing behind the race favourite on May 16 of this year, going down by a mere one-and-a-half metres in what will provide Turpin with plenty of optimism. “I think if he was drawn a bit better then he would go really close to the favourite on the basis of that form, but I think the draw makes it hard,” Turpin said. “He just keeps improving and getting better every time he goes around; the draw does hurt but other than that he is going great.” Like his stablemates, Will The Wizard has enjoyed a really consistent season thus far, winning three and placing another five times from 10 starts. “He is a tricky horse and that’s probably why I’ve opted to drive the filly,” Turpin said. “He’s good when he draws the front and can just bowl along but the second row does make it harder for his racing style. “Like the other two, he’s going really well so hopefully he can put his best foot forward and do us proud on the night.” Outside of Governor Jujon, Jenden Strike will take her place in the race on the quick back-up as a $10 second-favourite. The father-son combination of Chris and Anthony Frisby are hoping their star filly will become the first girl to complete the South East double. Another Grant Dixon-trained chance in Fond Memories – also $10 on the TAB – is among the other hopes in the TAB market to take down the hot favourite.   Andrew Adermann for Racing Queensland

The curtain is set to fall on star Queensland mare Smooth Showgirl this weekend. Win, lose or draw – trainer Ian Gurney will send his ultra-talented mare to the next phase of her career after contesting the Listed $25,660 Fleur De Lil Ladyship Stakes at Albion Park on Saturday night. Motherhood beckons for the Art Major mare. Throughout her career, Smooth Showgirl has raced at the elite level contesting many features along the way while her biggest triumphs came at her home track of Albion Park. Boasting 17 wins at the famed Breakfast Creek oval, Smooth Showgirl snared feature race victories in the Gr.1 $100,000 2014 Nursery Pace Fillies Final before returning the following year to claim the Gr.2 $75,000 3yo edition. Smooth Showgirl also won the Forever Gold Mares Open twice during the Albion Park summer carnival, scoring in 2016 and again in 2018. Her list of feature race placings include the Gr.3 Teeny Teeny Stakes at TABCORP Park, Menangle behind Millwood Liberty and Frith plus the Gr.2 Queensland Cup twice, third behind Aztec Bromac and Avonnova in 2017 and then as the runner-up behind Colt Thirty One the following year. Smooth Showgirl managed to wins races at Melton, Menangle and Albion Park – the three metropolitan venues on the east coast of the country. Amongst her haul of Albion Park victories, five of them were recorded in Open Class events where she tackled the best available pacers in the state at the time. Overall, Smooth Showgirl has won 25 races from her 112 starts with earnings in excess of $370,000. Raced by the Gurney family throughout her career following her purchase at the 2013 APG Melbourne Yearling Sale at a cost of $22,000, her time was spent with Belinda McCarthy and Ian Gurney as trainers. Her best winning mile rate is 1:52.3 when successful at Menangle back in 2016 while placed behind Arms Of An Angel in 1:50.3. “We absolutely love this mare and several times I’ve knocked back offers from North America and over the past eighteen months I’ve contemplated retirement but I knew she had more to give,” Trainer Ian Gurney said. “I’d love to see her go out as a winner, I think she deserves that but racing is a hard game and fairytales don’t always play out but she’ll be giving her best just like she does at every start. “Like most, she’s battled her problems but always gave her best. It’s hard to pin point one race in particular as a highlight because she always tried so hard so I’m going to miss her around the stable. Maybe the race she won earlier this year at Albion Park, all the family was there following the passing of Uncle Brian. “We’ve got her booked to Sweet Lou, he’s an exciting young sire and doing a big job so here’s hoping she can produce something just like herself.” Last week, Smooth Showgirl led up before being run down in the latter stages to finish fourth behind Justalittle Torque in the Queen of Hearts Pace in a time of 1:53.4. It’s an identical field with the exception being Weeks End gaining a start over Cherrys The Best this week. Smooth Showgirl will start from gate five with regular reinsman Adam Sanderson booked to drive.   Chris Barsby

Star Queensland three-year-old Governor Jujon fined tuned his preparation for next week’s Gr.2 $50,660 Garrrards South East Derby with a sparkling trial at Albion Park last night (Friday). The Grant Dixon trained and driven colt led throughout in the 1660m public trial in a time of 1:53.9. He paced sectionals of 27.7, 31.1, 27.8 and 27.4 seconds. Governor Jujon scored by a widening margin of 22.5m defeating former New Zealand pacer Jive and Convair Hustler. “It was a nice trial; I needed to give him a decent hit-out before next week and he was comfortable doing that so hopefully he’s ready because it’s hard to gain a race start with his rating.” Dixon said. The John Mammino owned pacer has not started since winning the Gr.3 $35,550 Redcliffe Yearling Series Final on June 19. A winner of 9 of his 13 starts this term; Governor Jujon has already feature race trophies following victories in the Gr.2 $50,000 Simpson Memorial at Menangle, Gr.2 $50,660 QBRED Triad Final and the $21,170 APHRC Members Cup. Governor Jujon was a runner-up behind Line Up in the Gr.1 $200,000 Victoria Derby following a heat victory. Last start Breeders Classic winner Big Wheels also stepped out in a trial and finished second behind Amarone in a time of 2:01.6. The gelded son of A Rocknroll Dance is being readied for the Gr.1 $100,550 QBRED Triad Final on the final night of the Albion Park winter carnival, July 25. Prepared by Chantal Turpin, Big Wheels is the winner of 2 races from 6 starts to date. And quality trotter Majestic Simon also looked sharp winning a 2138m stand start trial easily defeating Shegotsass and Il Pirata in a time of 2:03.8. The Chantal Turpin trained performer started from a handicap of 50m. Il Pirata made a break at the home turn. Over the next two weeks, Majestic Simon will contest the Gr.3 $21,270 Trotters Cup and the Gr.3 $25,770 Queensland Trotters Cup.   Chris Barsby

Smart pacer Feelingforarainbow has returned to work this week. Prepared by father/son combination of David and Dan Russell, the four-year-old hasn’t started since finishing third as favourite behind Little Bolt and Commodore Jujon in the Listed $25,660 QBRED Triad Final at Albion Park on May 23. With the 2020 Racing Queensland winter carnival much revised owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, connections opted to spell their gelding rather than keeping him in work. And connections are thrilled with his current condition. “He did extremely well during his break, he’s returned in really good order and we’re very happy we pulled the pin when we did. He did a big job getting to the Triad and probably raced a little tired in the final so giving him the break was the best thing for him.” Dan Russell said. A winner of ten races already this season, Feelingforarainbow will be brought along steadily with a view of a southern campaign an option moving forward. The Mr Feelgood gelding has been a great improver with maturity and looks like the open spaces of Menangle will suit him ideally. “It’s definitely an option, we haven’t locked in any plans yet but I know Dad and I have spoken about taking him to Sydney to win his ‘MO’ race so we’ll weigh things up when he’s getting closer. “He goes on all sized tracks but he really enjoys Albion Park so Menangle would be great for him, he can follow good speed and he can still produce good sectionals. “We’ve always believed in him and now he’s coming into his own so we’re hopeful he’ll keep improving, Dad trained his mother for a period and she was a good race mare with a very solid pedigree. He’s our current stable star and he’s given us plenty of fun to date.” Feelingforarainbow has won 15 of his 56 starts while banking more than $70,000. Meanwhile, the stable has taken over the training of talented mare RNR Windermere. And next week’s Listed $25,660 Fleur De Lil Ladyship Stakes at Albion Park could be an early target. “We’ll see how she handles the trip north but it’s definitely an option, her record is very impressive and she looked very good last start.” The Rocknroll Hanover mare scored an impressive victory at her most recent start at Kilmore on June 25 when rating 1:55.5. Previously prepared by Amanda Turnbull, RNR Windermere has won 7 of her 17 starts this season. The regally bred seven-year-old has won 13 races to date with over $70,000 in stakes.   Chris Barsby

With the Queensland winter carnival now in full swing, a number of talented types were fine tuning their skills at the trials today (Tuesday). The opening night of the Albion Park features gets underway this weekend while the following fortnight will also see plenty of talent on display, both equine and human. Improving three-year-old Gleneagle Warrior is being set for next week’s Gr.2 $50,660 Garrards South East Derby, a feature event to be staged over 2138m. Raced by Graeme Harris who recently transferred the Shadyshark Hanover gelding to the care of Vicki Rasmussen and the big striding type has thrived with the change of routine. Under the care of Rasmussen, Gleneagle Warrior has recorded three wins from five starts while his overall record now stands at five wins from 24 starts to date. At his most recent start, Gleneagle Warrior finished a brave second to Governor Jujon in the Gr.3 $35,520 Garrards Redcliffe Yearling Sales Series 3yo Final on June 19. In his 1660m public workout today, Gleneagle Warrior produced a withering sprint over the final 600m to score a decisive victory in a time of 1:55.4. The trial was covered in splits of 28.8, 31.5, 28 and 27.2 seconds. Leading reinsman Shane Graham again took the drive. Meanwhile, promising two-year-old filly Sheza Bonny Sheila caught the eye with a fast finishing third placing behind This Ones For You and Not The Kingswood in a 1660m trial. The time was 1:58.8 with the final half covered in 57.4 seconds. Prepared by Barb Barry, Sheza Bonny Sheila has not raced since making an error as favourite in the Listed $25,550 QBRED Breeders Classic Fillies Final at Albion Park on May 23 when fifth behind Vanish Hanover in a time of 1:56.8. The Betterthancheddar filly is already a feature race winner this season when scoring in the Changeover Classic at Albion Park on March 28. Regular reinsman Adam Sanderson took the drive. Sheza Bonny Sheila is being readied for the Gr.1 $100,550 QBRED Triad Fillies Final is scheduled for July 25.   Chris Barsby

Brilliant Queensland filly Pelosi is making up for lost time. Last year’s Australian 2YO Filly of the Year has been denied the chance to win a big race this season so far by an injury setback and COVID. But trainer Anna Woodmansey is not one to reflect. “I think things are meant to be,” she said. “After about 40 years training horses, I’ve now got the best one I’ll ever have and, in hindsight, the time out has allowed her to mature a lot.” Pelosi won six of her eight runs at two, including the Australian Gold and NSW Breeders Challenges finals at Group 1 level. She then kicked a fence and was sidelined for nine months, as much as a precaution as anything else. As Woodmansey watched Kiwi fillies Dr Susan and Stylish Memphis dominate the Victoria and NSW Oaks, she kept thinking her time would come during winter in the Queensland Oaks. The along came COVID and the Queensland Oaks was scrapped. Thankfully Racing Queensland responded and boosted this Saturday night’s South-East Oaks to Group 2 level and a $50,660 purse. Pelosi has looked terrific winning her past two runs, but has the outside draw (gate seven) to overcome in the 2138m feature. “I’m not taking anything for granted, especially from that draw, but she’s come back really well and I know she’ll give her all,” Woodmansey said. “I’m just pinching myself to have a filly this good.” Pelosi is bred in the purple being out of three-time Group 1 winning filly For Dear Life, who was one of just three foals former brilliant filly Express Post had. She’s a home-bred, coming from the great family stock of Woodmansey’s partner, Wayne Honan, whose family bred and raced a long line of stars. “Wayne’s really liked this filly since the day she was born, but he’s never one to compare them. He won’t even tell me who he thinks is the best horse the family ever had, but he does say Pelosi has inherited the speed of her grandmother and he speaks so glowingly about the speed Express Post had.” If Pelosi pleases Woodmansey this week, she could back-up against the boys in the South-East Derby the following week. The other option is to tackle older mares in the Fleur De Lil on the same night. “Let’s just get through this week first. I couldn’t be prouder of this filly, she’s unreal, and I’d love to win an Oaks with her,” Woodmansey said. The Oaks headlines a stellar Albion Park card, but the Wondais Mate Open Pace (1660m) is a mighty support race. That will see buzz former Kiwi pacer Speech Is Silver dip into open-class racing for the first time and clash with Queensland’s best pacer, Colt Thirty One. Speech Is Silver has won seven on end and 14 of her 18 lifetime starts, but faces a big ask from the back row (gate 10) in a sprint where Colt Thirty One has barrier five. NSW raider Cruz (gate four) and classy locals Major Cam (two) and Northview Hustler (seven) add to the depth of a ripper race.   Adam Hamilton

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