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The 2020 summer carnival at ‘The Creek’ (Albion Park Harness Racing Club) is just over a week away. Spanning a three week window, the metropolitan club will conduct a host of features spearheaded by the Grand Circuit event, the Gr.1 $175,660 TAB Blacks A Fake (2680m) which is scheduled for December 12. The carnival officially commences on Saturday week (November 28) before reaching its climax on Blacks A Fake racenight. And the stars are starting flex their muscles. The leading Sydney stables of Craig Cross are planning a raid on the Sunshine State with a party of richly talented pacers including current Grand Circuit leader King Of Swing. A winner of the Hunter Cup and Miracle Mile earlier this year, the outstanding entire is being primed for the Blacks A Fake and will round off his preparation with a start at Menangle this weekend. The $1.4 million dollar earner will start in the Gr.3 Kevin Robinson Free-For-All and will start from the outside draw (gate 11) in the 2300m event with regular reinsman Luke McCarthy engaged to drive. Last month, King Of Swing was beaten in the Gr.1 Victoria Cup behind boom pacer Lochinvar Art at Melton before rebounding with a dominant victory at his home track in 1:49.6 two weeks ago. “We’re really happy with his current condition and everything is aiming towards the Blacks A Fake, this is a great lead-up event given that it’s over a distance similar to the Brisbane feature,” McCarthy said. “Craig is putting together a really solid team and we’re looking forward to being part of the carnival, we love getting back to Brisbane at every opportunity and this campaign fits in nicely. Everything is still being sorted with the Covid-19 protocols but hopefully everything will work out, we’re keen to get there.” He added. Classy mare Bettor Enforce is being strongly considered for the two mares features (Queen of the Creek & Forever Gold) following her stylish victory last weekend. Other likely members of the Queensland team includes Balraj and co-track record holder Cruz. Stable newcomer Star Galleria will miss the carnival after arriving last week from New Zealand. Previously prepared by Pukekohe horseman Steve Reid, the Art Major gelding will remain at the Cobbitty base and will be set for other events. Reigning Queensland Horse of the Year Colt Thirty One rounds off his summer carnival preparation when he contests the Remembering Gerry Neptune Open Pace over the 1660m this Saturday night. The Grant Dixon prepared star is chasing back to back victories in the Blacks A Fake following his triumph last year. Next week, the open class feature is the Gr.3 $30,660 Be Good Johnny Sprint. This Saturday night, the club will host a superb 11 race card featuring a further three heats of the Darrell Alexander Memorial Trotting Series. First round heat winners included BD Khaosan, Gee Up Neddy and Our Overanova. The Gr.2 $30,770 Final will take place next week. For further information, contact the APHRC.   Chris Barsby

It was an emphatic statement made by star trotter Sundees Son when he dominated today’s (Friday) Gr.1 $270,000 Majestic Son Dominion at Addington. The reigning Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Master sat without cover before racing away from his rivals in the 3200m stand start feature while establishing a new National record of 4:00.5. The previous mark was held by Monbet at 4:00.7 when successful in 2016. Prepared by Robert Dunn and handled by his son John, Sundees Son easily accounted for Majestic Man and Australian raider Tough Monarch in the opening leg of the 2020/21 APG Trotting Masters staged in Christchurch. Sent off as the punters elect, Sundees Son stepped safely before taking up a handy position outside of Majestic Lavros who found the lead from Majestic Man with Heavyweight Hero following on the peg line. The lead time was covered in 2:02.0. Despite a big field of 15 runners, moves were at a minimum with Dunn controlling the speed from his parked position. Majestic Lavros went through the opening half of the final mile in 29.9 and 29.8 seconds. The first move in the race came from Matua Tana who angled three-wide before making a gallop not long after as the speed improved quickly. Dunn called on Sundees Son and he quickly put away Majestic Lavros. The third quarter was covered in 28.1 seconds. As the field entered the home straight, Sundees Son sailed clear as Majestic Lavros broke under pressure while Majestic Man, Heavyweight Hero and Tough Monarch battled each other for the minor spoils. At the line, Sundees Son scored by a widening margin of 3.75 lengths over Majestic Man while Tough Monarch edged past Heavyweight Hero to snatch third. The final quarter was timed in 30.3 seconds. And the winning mile rate was 2:00.9. The Majestic Son – Stardon six-year-old has now claimed both major trotting features in his homeland following his victory in the Rowe Cup at Alexandra Park last year. Since 2000, the likes of Lyell Creek, Take A Moment, Martina H, I Can Doosit, Stig, Master Lavros and Monbet have claimed both staying features. The victory of Sundees Son provided the father/son combination their maiden victory in the country’s premier trotting event. It was ninth time lucky for John following previous efforts with Ella Powell (5th in 2009), The Fat Controller (3rd in 2010), Kincaslough (3rd in 2014), Kinscaslough (6th in 2015), Harriet Of Mot (7th in 2016), Harriet Of Mot (7th in 2017), Woodstone (15th – last in 2018) and Valloria (Disqualified last year). “It’s a team effort with this horse, there’s plenty that have played a role in this victory so it’s a massive thrill for all involved.” Driver John Dunn said. Sundees Son is raced by Colin and Nancy Hair.   Chris Barsby

They have done it again. The might of the All Stars has confirmed its reputation as the best big race stable in the southern hemisphere after claiming another Gr.1 $572,400 IRT New Zealand Trotting Cup at Addington today (Tuesday). Headed up by the dynamic duo of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, the leading conditioners provided a perfect result in the 3200m stand start feature with Self Assured (Mark Purdon) defeating stablemates Spankem (Natalie Rasmussen) and Ashley Locaz (Tim Williams) in a time of 3:55.2. While the stable continues to rewrite the record books, a 1-2-3 result in the country’s biggest event simply underlines their sublime skill and amazing focus on producing nothing but the best results. Last year, the All Stars team produced four of the first five placegetters while they have now won 6 of the past 7 editions of the Cup since forming back in 2013. Their haul includes Adore Me, Lazarus (x 2), Thefixer, Cruz Bromac and now Self Assured. Purdon has now driven the Cup winner six times which equals the effort of the late Cecil Devine while he is one behind Ricky May who has the record with seven victories. With so much hinging on the start, race favourite Copy That ended up second last on settling down after starting from the inside draw while Self Assured nailed his beginning which effectively flipped the pre-race script. His faultless display came after Purdon and Rasmussen took a calculated gamble by taking the Jean Feiss owned five-year-old off the unruly starting position after some mixed efforts in lead-up to the Cup. Most, if not all, were surprised to see Self Assured so close to the lead so quickly after the start which spelt disaster for his rivals. But punters were fuming with the official start to the race. The All Stars runners made the most of their luck and took forward positions in running. With a lap remaining, the All Stars trio occupied the top three spots in running while Copy That was forced to work hard mid-race for driver Blair Orange. Approaching the home turn, Spankem led the way while Self Assured angled to his outside and launched his finishing burst with Ashley Locaz sticking to the inside. At the line, Self Assured scored by a widening margin of three and half lengths over Spankem who bobbed in front of Ashley Locaz to hold second spot. The Ray Green prepared Copy That faded over the latter stages to finish in 8th placing. With the winning time of 3:55.2 – which equates to a mile rate of 1:58.2, it is well outside of the race record of 3:53.1 set by Lazarus back in 2016. “He picked a good day to get it right, I was nervous about the start but I thought we gave him enough practice after the Cup trial and he would be better so it worked out great,” Purdon said. “Winning races like this is why we do this for a living, and I’m thrilled for Jean, a fantastic and passionate supporter of our stable.” He added. The top three finish of the All Stars runners also provided Woodlands Stud with a massive result with super sire Bettors Delight providing the top four finishes after Henry Hubert filled fourth spot.   Chris Barsby

2020 has been a year like no other. The global pandemic which is known as Covid-19 has turned most, if not all things upside down. At times its been harrowing, disturbing, heartbreaking and traumatic but one constant throughout the battle has been hope. While many items have been delayed or wiped from the calendar, some things have remained. And New Zealand Cup week is one that will go ahead. Sure, things will be different, but as a whole, the New Zealand Cup is the biggest racing event staged in the Shaky Isles and it always delivers. The crowd will be smaller for obvious reasons with next to no Aussie’s in attendance, but the roar will be unified as the Cup field battles it out in the home straight. Naturally, the leading stables of All Stars, Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen are set to play a major role in the outcome of the 3200m stand start feature. Since forming the partnership back in 2013, their record in the Cup is astonishing with five victories in the past six years. They prepared last year’s winner Cruz Bromac who was on loan for his Victorian connections. Interestingly, it was Blair Orange who landed the winning drive and this year he will partner what is considered the main threat for the All Stars this year in Copy That. Normally the All Stars have large numbers representing the famous livery but this year, they have just the trio of entrants. But its not just any trio with Self Assured, Spankem and Ashley Locaz lining up and all look to be serious players judging by their recent efforts. Purdon will partner race favourite Self Assured with Rasmussen committed to Spankem while Tim Williams takes the lines behind Ashley Locaz. Self Assured was beaten but not disgraced with a hard fought second in the Ashburton Flying Stakes last start while performing nicely in the Cup trial behind his stablemate Spankem. The Bettors Delight gelding has been taken off the unruly and will sport saddlecloth number 11. Millionaire pacer Spankem continues to build nicely for his Cup tilt with a great effort at Ashburton followed by his Cup trial victory but faces a second-line draw, he will carry saddlecloth number 15. Spankem was the beaten favourite last year when second behind Cruz Bromac. Ashley Locaz carries a different form card compared to most following a brief stint in Queensland before returning for the Ashburton and Kaikoura features. Williams is chasing his maiden Cup victory and Ashley Locaz will wear saddlecloth number 12. Last year, the All Stars finished 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th with their four runners. Ironically, the horse that thwarted their winning run was an ex-member of their team in Arden Rooney (2015) who transferred to the Victorian stables of Kerryn Manning when he prevailed over the luckless All Stars runner Smolda. Arden Rooney was raced by Merv and Meg Butterworth and the Victorian based couple race boom pacer Copy That. Will history repeat? The most recent North Island trained winner of the Cup was Changeover (Geoff Small) back in 2008. Copy That is trained by astute horseman Ray Green and his form is outstanding - highlighted by his bold showing in the Ashburton Flying Stakes. The American Ideal entire was the big winner at the barrier draw and will sport saddlecloth number 1. Also representing the North Island is Mach Shard (Barry Purdon & Scott Phelan) plus Triple Eight and Check In (Steve & Amanda Telfer). Master trainer Robert Dunn will also have a trio of chances with Heisenberg, Henry Hubert and Classie Brigade all representing his stable. Both Henry Hubert (6th) and Classie Brigade (3rd) back-up from last year’s Cup. The form of Classie Brigade is outstanding winning four of his last five starts including the New Brighton Cup, Hannon Memorial and the Kaikoura Cup. The brilliant stand start performer will sport saddlecloth number 18 and will be handled by Robert’s son, John. The Dunn family scored with Mainland Banner in the New Zealand Cup back in 2005. Thefixer, a winner of the New Zealand Cup two years ago backs up for another shot at glory following his 5th placing last year behind Cruz Bromac. Now prepared on the beach at Woodend, Thefixer can provide likeable young horsemen Regan Todd and Bob Butt their biggest triumph. Jim Curtin prepares Tango Tara and chases his second victory in the Cup following his win behind Terror To Love back in 2011 while Brian O’Meara also chases his second Cup success with Di Caprio after preparing champion pacer Christian Cullen back in 1998. John ‘Coaster’ Howe lines up Nandolo in the Cup after finishing 7th last year behind Cruz Bromac, the talented pacer will again be handled by Jonny Cox. And representing the ‘south’ is the Ross and Chris Wilson prepared Robyns Playboy, a richly talented five-year-old who scored nicely in the Tuapeka Cup last start. Again, Craig Ferguson will take the drive. The three emergencies for the race are Vintage Cheddar, On The Cards and Wild Excuse. Of the 15 starters, no mare is listed to start. Super sire Bettors Delight has seven runners listed in the field while American Ideal, Mach Three, A Rocknroll Dance, Shadow Play and Betterthancheddar all having two runners each. The Gr.1 $540,000 IRT New Zealand Cup is listed to start at 5.34pm local time. And what a race it is going to be!   Chris Barsby

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

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

It’s been a busy and joyous time in recent weeks for a trio of Queensland based drivers. The Sunshine State has a proud and rich history of producing outstanding talent, both male and female, in both the training and driving of Standardbred stars. This ever-expanding list continues to grow year by year. Just recently, Lola Weidemann surpassed 3000 career victories; the milestone moment was reached at a nondescript Sunday night meeting at Redcliffe aboard Prettycompact in the final event on the program. But in many ways, the victory had gigantic ramifications. With over 3000 career victories, Weidemann now sits clearly at the top of the list of female drivers in the state while only Grant Dixon has more wins with over 4600 and still climbing. Only Kerryn Manning has more wins in the country as a female with close to 4000 wins to date. Sitting behind both Manning and Weidemann is Jodi Quinlan with over 2100 wins to date while Amanda Turnbull is closing in on 2000 wins. Weidemann is a highly respected figure within the industry and her skillset was on full display on Saturday night with her winning drive behind Kid Montana in the Garrards Horse & Hound Pace. At the same meeting, third generation horseman Pete McMullen registered his 2000th victory following the thumping win of exciting rookie pacer Uncle Shank in a time of 1:54.8 in the Burwood Stud Pace. Uncle Shank is prepared by Pete’s wife, Chantal Turpin. By reaching the 2000 win club, McMullen achieved the feat by becoming the youngest driver to do so in the country. McMullen is 28 years and 10 months old. It backs up his record as the youngest driver to reach 1000 wins after he eclipsed the record which was then held by Amanda Turnbull. McMullen is the son of John and Jennette and the Grandson of the late J.C ‘Hollywood’ McMullen. Younger sisters Narissa, Dannielle and Taleah all regularly compete against their record setting big brother. McMullen had the honour and privilege of driving millionaire pacer Im Themightyquinn, one of the all-time greats of the sport back in 2014 at Albion Park. He has also driven in North America, competing against the likes of Hall of Famer’s John Campbell and Ron Pierce at the Meadowlands as an 18yo. The full list of drivers that have 2000 or more victories includes Chris Alford, Gavin Lang, Grant Dixon, Daryl Douglas, Chris Lewis, Kerryn Manning, John Caldow, Greg Sugars, Gary Hall Jnr, Lance Justice, Lola Weidemann, Brian Gath, Colin Brown, Luke McCarthy, Shane Graham, Greg Bennett, David Harding, Steve Turnbull, Peter Greig, Ted Demmler, Darrel Graham, Geoff Webster, Jodi Quinlan, John Justice, Mathew Neilson and Ryan Hryhorec. And the young talent within the state keeps coming with Angus Garrard stamping himself as a genuine star in the making. Last week at Redcliffe, Garrard brought up his maiden century in his first full season of driving when the Donny Smith trained Arbit Major scored in the Stevie Redback Pest Control Pace. It was part of another winning treble for the recently turned 17yo. Garrard now becomes the youngest driver in Australian harness racing history to register 100 wins in a season. The son of Daren and Gayle is still attending school while undertaking his driving commitments. Angus is the Grandson of Chris and Maureen Garrard, founders of Garrrads Horse & Hound company, generous sponsors and benefactors to the racing industries throughout the southern hemisphere. Here’s hoping the winners keep flowing for these outstanding drivers.   Chris Barsby

The open class events in Brisbane in the coming weeks will boast strong depth. And that was evident on the opening night of the 2020 Queensland winter carnival last night (Saturday) with the longstanding 1660m track record held by champion pacer Im Themightyquinn falling. The ‘wonder from the west’ set the track record at 1:50.4 back in 2014 when successful in the Sunshine Sprint. While many have dared to dream of breaking the mark, it’s largely stood untested. Until Sydney pacer Cruz eclipsed the mark with his all the way victory in the $21,160 Wondais Mate Pace with a time of 1:50.3 defeating reigning Queensland Horse of the Year Colt Thirty One and Watch Pulp Fiction. He covered the sprint trip with sectionals of 27.1, 29.2, 27.7 and 26.5 seconds. Prepared by Craig Cross, the American Ideal gelding was handled by Leonard Cain. The open class feature this week is the Listed $25,770 Mr Feelgood Pace which will be staged over the 2138m before they step up to the 2680m in the Listed $25,770 Lucky Creed Pace the following week. Another high quality performer expected to contest the above mentioned features is the Chris and Anthony Frisby trained Our Uncle Sam. The multiple feature race winner is expected to trial on Tuesday afternoon at Albion Park in readiness for his latest Queensland campaign. Our Uncle Sam was surprisingly beaten first-up at Bathurst on July 1 as a short priced favourite behind Fouroeight in a time of 1:55.8. “We’re going to give him a trial at this stage before starting up here, maybe some were disappointed with his effort the other night but he was probably a little underdone so another trial will tighten him further.” Driver Anthony Frisby said. The Frisby stable is all smiles following the victory of classy filly Jenden Strike in the Gr.2 $50,660 Changeover South East Oaks at Albion Park last night. The Betterthancheddar filly scored a narrow yet decisive victory over local fillies Miss Ruby Sunshine and Fond Memories in a time of 1:55.9 for the 2138m event. “It was a deserving victory in many ways because she’s been a little unlucky in some of the better races this season but it played out well for us and we got the right luck,” Frisby said. “I think Dad (Chris) is planning on backing her up this week in the South East Derby so that will be interesting.” He added. Jenden Strike has won six of her 12 starts to date while banking more than $66,000.   Chris Barsby

Plans have been shelved for star colt Perfect Stride. The Anthony Butt prepared three-year-old was being readied for this week’s Gr.2 $50,660 Garrards South East Derby at Albion Park, the second night of the much revised 2020 winter carnival. But his unplaced effort last night (Saturday) has forced the cancellation of his trip north. Perfect Stride finished 8th behind exciting prospect Whereyabinboppin in the Gr.3 $30,600 Farmer Joes Outlet Final in a time of 1:50.5 and never raised the hopes of his backers. And that left Butt perplexed. “I expected a lot more and after talking it over with Emilio (Rosati – owner) earlier today we’ve decided to bypass on Brisbane and get him thoroughly checked over by the vets and see if anything turns up.” Butt explained. The younger brother to millionaire pacer Chicago Bull has been placed in both the Victoria and New South Wales Derby classics this season behind his stablemate Line Up while also being placed in the Gr.1 $100,000 Gold Chalice Final at Bathurst. Star local Governor Jujon now looks the horse to beat following his outstanding form this season for trainer/driver Grant Dixon. The Cammibest colt was primed for the South East Derby with a sharp trial at Albion Park on Friday in a time of 1:53.9. The fields for Saturday night’s program will be released on Tuesday.   Chris Barsby

Have helmet, will travel. Promising young reinsman Will Rixon has headed to Queensland to join his boss as they build on the winter carnival campaign. Rixon, 19, is the stable foreman for Menangle horseman Jarrod Alchin. Fresh from completing his driving duties last night (Saturday) at TABCORP Park, Menangle, Rixon immediately headed north to join Alchin as they prepare for tonight’s Redcliffe meeting. Rixon will take two drives on the ten race program. It’s the first time he has driven in the Sunshine State. “I’ll be up here for the next couple of weeks and I’m really looking forward to it, Jarrod has the team going along nicely plus I’m looking to do as much driving as possible.” Rixon said. To date this season, Rixon has driven 47 winners while he is approaching 200 for his career which commenced back on January 12, 2017. He currently has a C3 concession claim. Last year, Rixon combined with the Wayne Sullivan trained Cee Cee Ambro to win the Gr.2 $50,000 NSW Breeders Challenge 3yo Fillies True Blue Final at Menangle. “This season has been pretty good and I’m grateful for the opportunities I’m getting but I’m keen to keep building on my numbers. “I enjoy driving at Menangle but I like getting around to different tracks, it’s great for the experience and that’s why I’m looking forward to the Brisbane trip. They’ve got a great colony of drivers and I’m excited about driving at Albion Park, I went to Victoria last year and took some drives down there and really enjoyed it. “Jarrod has some nice horses in his care and I’m hoping I might get a drive behind Mohs Em Down, he’s my favourite horse in the stable and I believe he’s got a real future.” Rixon hails from a famous harness racing family, he is the son of Peter and Cindy (of Divisive fame) while his grandfather is the legendary A.D (Tony) Turnbull. Naturally, Rixon rates the Miracle Mile as the race he would most like to win in the future. His father won the event in 2008, his Uncle Steve (Smooth Satin) scored in the race back in 2001 while his grandfather won it back in 1974 (Hondo Grattan). And like many, Rixon is a graduate of the mini-trotting ranks. “It’s such a great grounding and so many good drivers are graduates of this pathway, I’ve made some really good friends from it too. “I admire so many drivers but I believe Blake Fitzpatrick is the most underrated driver going around, he’s so polished.” Rixon will drive again on Tuesday at Albion Park while he’s looking for more drives later in the week.   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

Talented Queensland mares Demeter and Laughing Emoji are the latest recruits bound for the ever increasing North American market. Buoyed by the deeds of world champion pacing mare Shartin, the appetite for ‘downunder’ pacing mares has hit fever pitch. And the performance across the weekend of former Victorian mare Soho Burning Love at the Meadowlands winning the Mares Open in 1:48.1 has further underlined the quality heading north in recent seasons. Connections of both Demeter and Laughing Emoji accepted offers they couldn’t refuse. Demeter, trained by former Leeton horseman Reece Maguire has proven to be an outstanding money-spinner since coming to the Sunshine State where she has won four of her nine starts. All four victories took place at Albion Park. Overall, Demeter has won 10 of her 40 starts to date. In her first start at the famed Breakfast Creek oval, the Art Major – Weka Lass mare took a personal best time of 1:54.2. At her most recent start, Demeter finished second behind boom pacer Speech Is Silver at Albion Park on June 6 in a time of 1:56.9 for 2138m. Demeter is a half-sister to talented Victorian based mare Reciprocity (16 wins - $158k). Meanwhile, Laughing Emoji also created a tidy record in Brisbane following her purchase from New Zealand as a three-year-old. The big striding Mach Three mare was prepared by Chantal Turpin and Pete McMullen and all of her 11 (from 53 starts) were recorded on Australian soil. Laughing Emoji was purchased from the south island of New Zealand following her second start. Nine of her victories took place at Albion Park while she also registered a victory on the half mile Redcliffe circuit. Her best winning mile rate of 1:52.9 took place at Menangle during a Sydney campaign back in 2018. This season, Laughing Emoji has won seven races. At her final Australian start, Laughing Emoji finished fifth at Albion Park behind Corsini in a time of 1:57.1 after being caught without cover.   Chris Barsby

Boom pacer Speech Is Silver has continued with his terrific form. Fresh from registering his seventh successive victory in the Badcock Group of Companies Pace at Albion Park on Saturday night, the Darren Weeks trainee recorded brilliant closing sectionals yet again. In fact, his closing half of 55.2 seconds (leader to winner) was the fastest of the night. His splits were even quicker than reigning Horse of the Year Colt Thirty One who scored an all the way victory in the Westburn Grant Open Pace two races later. And with the revised Brisbane winter carnival commencing this week, there’s an obvious question that most, if not all, are asking. Will Speech Is Silver take on the Open class performers? Obvious targets include the $21,160 Wondais Mate Open Pace (1660m) this Saturday night followed by the $25,660 Mr Feelgood Open Pace (2138m) the following week while the $25,660 Lucky Creed Open Pace (2680m) is another option for the gifted pacer. “He’s come through Saturday night in great shape; he’s actually jumping out of his skin and very well within himself so we’ll assess our options. I thought that victory was one of his best because he was exposed three wide for the final 800m and the splits were fast, that’s not easy to do.” Weeks said. His winning mile rate of 1:54.5 was also the quickest of the night for races staged over the distance of 2138m. The former member of the All Stars operation (Mark Purdon & Nat Rasmussen) in Christchurch has been a revelation since arriving in the Sunshine State winning 13 of his 15 starts. This season, the gelding has won 11 of his 13 starts to date. His only local defeats came when he fired up in front and struck the sulky footrests in the Rising Stars Final last October when sixth behind Tin Roof Raider while he finished as the runner-up behind Arthur Lowe after breaking at the start back on April 28. A majority of his victories have come via his frightening and powerful finishing bursts, time and time again he has sailed down the straight at Albion Park while his rivals have been left to deal with the remnants of his speed burn. It will be fascinating to see if he tackles the open class features during the carnival. Whether he does or doesn’t, the stable will have representation through the likes of Major Cam and Lilac Flash who both performed admirably across the weekend. Meanwhile, stablemate and classy mare Smart As Camm Be will miss the carnival features owing to a recent setback following her most recent trial at Albion Park on June 16 when unplaced behind star three-year-old filly Pelosi. “It’s nothing major and more the effect of jarring up so we backed off for a while there but she’s now back in work so we’ll build her up again.” Weeks said. In her first trial back, Smart As Camm Be finished a pleasing third behind Redcliffe Cup runner-up Northview Hustler in a time of 1:53.2. The Listed $25,660 Fleur De Lil Ladyship Stakes on Saturday week loomed as a key target for the multiple feature race winner. Smart As Camm Be has won 12 of her 15 starts to date while banking more than $162,000. The Cammibest mare hasn’t raced since winning the Redcliffe Oaks last June.     Chris Barsby

Goulburn horseman Brad Hewitt is just another eyeing off the warm Queensland winter carnival. The outstanding horseman is keen to head north and take part in the much revised Albion Park features which officially kicks off next week. The metropolitan club will conduct three quality meetings on July 11, 18 and 25 with a raft of features spread across the three nights. And following the news from Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk yesterday who outlined the reopening of the state border on July 10, Hewitt is now planning and confirming his team. It’s likely it will be a team of 8 to 10. “I’m keen to get up there but I’ve been waiting on news regarding the border and when it will reopen, now that we’ve got a date, it will be all systems go and I’m looking forward to the challenge.” Hewitt said. A likely contender for the Queensland campaign is stable newcomer Nostra Villa, a former Australian Two-Year-Old Filly of the Year when prepared by Emma Stewart in Victoria. Recently purchased by Phil and Denise Thurston, the Art Major five-year-old was placed in the care of Hewitt and makes her debut for the stable this weekend at TABCORP Park, Menangle in the Success Stud Spelling Farm Pace. A winner of 18 of her 37 starts to date and earning in excess of $444,000, the quality performer looked sharp in a recent trial at Goulburn last weekend. Nostra Villa defeated talented type Game Set Major in a time of 1:54.2 for the 1710m event. The Listed $25,660 Fleur De Lil Ladyship Stakes on July 18 is an obvious for the mare. “We’ll know more after the weekend but I was happy with her trial but under race conditions is a bigger test, she’s a great addition to the stable and if she performs at the required level then we’ll look at the Fleur De Lil. “I’m going to take Spare Me Days up, he always goes well in Queensland and there are some nice options for him while The Texas Ranger will also head up. “I’ll confirm the rest of my team across the weekend. I’m booked in with Wayne Graham again so everything is in readiness.” Hewitt has enjoyed considerable success in Queensland in recent times.   Chris Barsby

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