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Timing can be everything. And the fact that leading Queensland harness racing trainer Darrel Graham is headed to Sydney this weekend is quite interesting. It’s Chariots of Fire race night at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night and Graham slips into town with pint-sized pacer Broadway Playboy. Understandably, Graham has fond recollections of the Chariots of Fire following his success with his best pacer Lanercost who blew away his rivals in a time of 1:52.5 back in 2011. Graham has also been represented by Rollon Bigred and Sign To Inverell in past Chariots, the biggest four-year-old feature on the eastern seaboard. With no runner in the main event this year, Graham is hoping his in-form pacer Broadway Playboy can earn his way into the $50,000 MO Final scheduled for February 25, Miracle Mile race night. “This little horse deserves his chance; I’ve been wanting to get him down to Sydney for his MO for some time now and given his recent form surge, now was the time and this looks a good target for him. He’s been winning against the open class grade here in Brisbane and doing it well, now is the time.” Graham said. Broadway Playboy starts in the Freedom Farms Lexus Championship Heat 1, the third race on the program and will start from gate five. The former Victorian gelding has won his past three starts at Albion Park, the latest coming last weekend when handled by Adam Sanderson. “He looks a good chance on paper, Adam is actually taking him down and he will be taking the drive again this weekend. He left today (Thursday) and will do the trip in a few stages given how hot the weather is right now. “I think it’s great for Adam to get away with one horse and take in the experience, hopefully we will be able to send a few more south on our next trip. “He’s been great for the stable since coming north from Victoria, he’s got good gate speed and he’s proven he is versatile with some of his recent victories. I think he’s earned more than $120,000 since being up here in Brisbane which is great for his connections.” Many of his rivals this weekend are no strangers with many in the field having raced at Albion Park previously. Broadway Playboy scored a decisive victory last week at Albion Park coming off the speed before downing Joys A Babe and Jackaroo Bromac in a time of 1:53.6. The Jeremes Jet gelding has been placed 13 of his last 15 starts which includes 6 victories. Graham will remain in Brisbane this weekend and drive at Albion Park where he is listed for 5 drives at the meeting. And the countdown continues for Graham to register his 2000th career driving victory, he currently sits on 1996. Chris Barsby

Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) Stewards today conducted an inquiry into the analysts finding of testosterone at a concentration in excess of the threshold for a gelding under the provisions of A.H.R.R. 188A (2)(g) in the pre-race urine sample taken from Mafuta Vautin prior to the horse competing in Race 5 at Redcliffe on 24 December 2015. Mafuta Vautin was trained for this event by Darrell Graham. Stewards considered evidence from Mr Graham, Dr K. Caldwell, Manager, Veterinary Services at the Racing Science Centre and Ms S. Nellis, Principal Analyst at the Racing Science Centre and Dr David Lobell called on behalf of Mr Graham. Stewards also considered a written report tabled from Dr Adam Cawley, Laboratory Science Manager at the Australian Racing Forensic Laboratory who was of the view that the steroid profile for the sample was consistent with an endogenous source due to unusual adrenal gland activity. Stewards also considered the results of tests carried out on hair samples taken from Mafuta Vautin. After carefully considering the scientific and analytical evidence available to them, Stewards were satisfied that the detected concentration of testosterone in the sample taken from Mafuta Vautin was of endogenous origin or as a result of endogenous activity. Although it was considered an offence was proven under the provisions of AHRR 190(1) Stewards deemed that no conviction be entered or penalty imposed against Darrel Graham. However, under the provisions of AHRR 195 which reads: A horse which has been presented for a race shall be disqualified from it if blood, urine, saliva, or other matter or sample or specimen taken from the horse is found to contain a prohibited substance. Stewards disqualified Mafuta Vautin from Race 5 at Redcliffe on 24 December 2015 and the placings have been amended accordingly.  Mr Graham was advised of his rights to internal review. Stewards’ Report – Darrell Graham Date – 19 October 2016 Panel – N. Torpey; L. Wilson & D. Aurisch

Leading Queensland harness racing trainer Darrel Graham reckons he doesn’t even know how to spell ‘cobalt’ and will fight a 15-month disqualification. Graham has been banned over his stable star Mafuta Vautin returning a positive test to cobalt in winning the $50,000 Qbred Triad final at Albion Park on May 30 last year. The industry veteran of more than 30 years is currently training on a stay of proceedings through the QCAT Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal. He has also asked for an internal review of the ban through the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission. Regardless of the result, Graham says he is bewildered by the cobalt ban and insists he has no plans to walk away from the industry he loves. “I was a couple of days into a US holiday when I was informed about the swab,” Graham said. “They told me it was cobalt, but at the time I thought they said something else, because I wouldn’t even know how to spell cobalt. “I told stewards I had 128 winners last season, and I treat all my horses the same. So why was this the only positive, why weren’t there 128 cobalt positives? “I am totally bewildered by it and I just don’t understand it. One professor seems to have one view about cobalt, yet another professor has a different view.” Graham says he will continue the fight to clear his name, adamant he has done nothing wrong. But even if the cobalt disqualification stands, he won’t exit the harness racing industry. “I just hope we can work out what has happened, clear my name and get the penalty quashed,” Graham said. “But I have the full support of my main owner, and whatever happens, I won’t be walking away from the industry. “If worst comes to worst, I will go out and get a normal job for a little while before I return to harness racing.” By Ben Dorries Reprinted with permission of The Courier Mail

Queensland Harness Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) Stewards today concluded an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the analysts’ findings in respect to a pre race urine sample taken from MAFUTA VAUTIN prior to its winning performance in Race 5 The Qbred Triad Final for 4yo Horses and Geldings at Albion Park on Saturday, 30 May 2015 which had been opened and adjourned on 28 July 2016. The Queensland Government Racing Science Centre (RSC) reported a level of Cobalt in the sample in excess of the threshold as prescribed by the Australian Harness Racing Rules. On 5 August, licensed trainer Mr Darrel Graham was charged pursuant to Rule 190(1) which reads:            “A horse shall be presented for a race free of prohibited substances” The particulars of the charge being that Mr Graham presented MAFUTA VAUTIN to race in Race 5 at Albion Park on 30 May 2015, when a pre race urine sample taken from that gelding was found, upon analysis, to contain the prohibited substance Cobalt above the prescribed threshold. On 15 August Mr Graham pleaded not guilty to the charge as issued. Mr Graham today provided further submissions to support his plea of not guilty and consideration was given to these submissions in addition to other relevant cases and character references.           After due consideration Stewards were of the view that the charge could be sustained and formally found Mr Graham guilty. When assessing the matter of penalty Stewards gave consideration to the following: The serious nature of the substance concerned and the level of Cobalt recorded (342Ug/L); Mr Graham’s licence history of 30 years and his personal and financial situation; The particular circumstances of the case; The need for a penalty to serve as a deterrent to illustrate that drug free racing is of paramount importance to the integrity of harness racing; Penalty precedents. Mr Graham was disqualified for a period of 15 months effective immediately. Stewards further directed that under Rule 195 MAFUTA VAUTIN be disqualified from its win in Race 5 at Albion Park on 30 May 2015 and all other placegetters be amended accordingly. Mr Graham was advised of his rights to internal review.   Panel: D Farquharson, K Wolsey, N Torpey Racing Queensland

The Darrel Graham-trained Five Card Draw has won the Moreton Bay Regional Council Redcliffe Gold Cup, Adam Sanderson steering the harness racing  gelding home in a race that had everything from the very beginning. A standing start race, the Gold Cup saw three major players miss the beginning of the race badly. Lining up off the front row, Bio Marinus’ sulky backed into Applause, momentarily dislodging driver Trista Dixon, who was soon back in the seat but not before tangling with Mach Alert, all three missing the start by the best part of a half lap. Travelling throughout the race brilliantly was Majestic Mach who took the lead early and travelled well, only to succumb to a flat tyre with over 1200 metres of the race remaining, finally being worn down in the back straight and finishing a gutsy fourth. Five Card Draw stepped out well and positioned himself smartly throughout the race, coming out three wide on the final turn to storm home under pressure and take the win. President of the Redcliffe Harness Racing Club, Mr. Bernie Ring was pleased with the successful night at Redcliffe and acknowledged the standing start can add another element to a race when talking of the three runners wiped out. “These things happen in standing start races, it’s tradition that Redcliffe has the standing start Cup and I think we’ll keep going that way, even though it can add a bit of a scrimmage” Ring said. Next race was the Redcliffe Hustler Oaks which saw Jack Butler in the winner’s circle again, Zara’s Delight taking the win a week after Butler’s brilliant Paton Purse win with Barynya. Zara’s Delight led the field from start to finish in the Oaks, Cherish The Moment putting a strong challenge in on the final turn until Zara’s Delight rallied again, finding extra pace to pull away and win by a length. Track records were broken tonight as well, Grant Dixon’s Tightrope winning in the Mayor Allan Sutherland Pace (1780m) in a blistering time of 1:54.9, while his other charge Our Overanova took out the Hustler 104 Trotters Discretionary Handicap. Racing Queensland

Each week, Queensland Harness Racing commentator Chris Barsby does a ring around and gets the inside info on a big list of Australasian based runners. Queensland trainer/driver Darrell Graham heads back to a specialist on Monday, his broken leg is healing well. Champion Perth trainer Gary Hall headed for operation on his hand next Monday. Has constant swelling. He will be out of action for a couple of weeks Talented Sydney trotter Cyclone Lucky Seven headed to Menangle trials next week for trainer Alex Alchin. - Last start was mid march. Star pacers for Shane Tritton, Arms Of An Angel & Salty Robyn both back doing pace work. No set plans for either speed machine. Last start Group 1 runner Three Of The Best is back in Queensland, starts Friday week in Breeders crown heat, decisions to be made after that. In-form couple Nathan Jack and Amanda Turnbull arrive in Queensland next week with 3 runners. Fcee, Neon Sky & Eye See Diamonds. Reigning Australian Driver of the Year Shane Graham, already has over 200 winners this season and celebrates his 52nd birthday today. Millionaire mare Frith will have one more start before a well-deserved break. Starts Saturday week in the Adore Me mares event at Menangle. Top Goulburn horseman Brad Hewitt arrives in Brisbane today with his winter carnival team headed by Spare Me Days. Talented 3yo Stanley Ross Robyn has also made the trek north and will start in both the Gold Coast and Queensland Derby classics. Victorian trainer Andy Gath will make final decision on Three Ways & possible Queensland Derby trip after he starts next Tuesday at Bendigo. Birthday celebrations today for Gareth Hall – he's planning a big party in Brisbane next week when he cheers home Hectorjayjay. Good race tomorrow at Albion Park when Queensland Derby aspirants Kimani (Matt Craven) & Mattgregor (Chantal Turpin) clash. Smart pacer My Kiwi Mate is headed to the Winter Championship series next week at Melton. Good trial this week after NZ Campaign. Despite an impressive trial this week, former Kiwi 3yo He Can Fly will remain in Sydney. Connections were eyeing Queensland Derby Last start Group 2 Breeders Classic winner Maestro Bellini is bang on target for Qbred triad Final on July 16. Starts new week. North American speedster Hurrikane Kingcole is facing a battle to make a successful comeback down under. Team McCarthy working overtime. Plans remain intact for SA Derby winner Brallos Pass to head north for Queensland Derby on July 16. Faces poor draw in Group 1 Vicbred Final this week Chris Barsby

While we get a thrill out of the harness racing spectacle, what is perceived as a low to medium risk activity for driver and horse can in a flash become very dangerous. Such a flash occurred on last Wednesday night in the final race at Redcliffe. Just as the mobile barrier - with its field of green 2yo pacers reached the 1780 metre release point in the home straight - one of their number, Flippa Penny broke stride, altered direction and checked Mister Hart. Driven by Barty Cockburn, Flippa Penny partially dislodged driver Darrell Graham from his sulky. As the horror unfolded, Graham was dragged for a short distance by one leg, his foot being wedged against the sulky stirrup. Upon freeing his foot, and skidding along the track, Graham kept the reins for a further 20 metres before being forced to let his horse go. Worse was to come, with Flippa Penny then shifting ground and running straight over the fallen Graham, causing serious injury to one leg. Graham went to surgery on Thursday morning with his future mobility resting on the modern surgeon's skills and armoury of pins, plates and screws. One thing is certain. Graham will be missing from the racetrack for some time. All we can do is hope for a full recovery for the "Lord Mayor of Fernvale". Graham's stats, which have come to a temporary halt, are: as a trainer (lifetime) - starters 15,557 for 2230 winners and 3354 placings, earning $9.829 million. This season: 463 runners for 69 winners and 107 placings with prize money of $405,039. His efforts in the sulky amount to (lifetime) drives 13397 for 1975 wins and 3020 placings and prize money of $8.328 million. This season, drives 216, wins 23, placings 49 and, in the bank, $160,821. Unfounded rumours THE rumour mill caused a minor stir when it was suggested that Queensland Harness was about to follow Harness Racing Victoria's decision to ban standing starts for pacers in that state. Happily, at this point, no such decision has been taken, with current figures indicating that standing start events hold quite favourably against the average mobile event on a meeting to meeting basis. The shift in Victoria is scheduled for the start of the new season on September 1, but it is likely that the controversial policy will be up for a re-think sometime before that. It stands to reason that, with the renaissance of "Show" racing in Queensland, standing starts would find a new lease of life. Marburg boost IN the extra good department is the news that the Marburg Pacing Association has won a Gaming Fund Grant, which will be spent on a new child proof fence on the outside of the Marburg Showground harness track. The MPA recognizes the great contribution made by grant application writer Kellie Reinke. Winter excitement THE 2016 Racing Queensland UBET winter carnival is fast approaching. In coming weeks, Queensland harness broadcaster Chris Barsby will introduce a number of the brightest stars chasing the warm weather prize money. With 18 Black Type races on the program for the 2016 Winter Carnival, which opens with the Triad Finals for Q-Bred 2-3 and 4yo's on May 28, and concludes on July 30, the carnival's pinnacle in 2016 is the G1 Blacks A Fake, which now boasts an impressive $200,000 in stakes. First in the line-up is Ultimate Art, owned by Kirsty Formosa in Newcastle NSW and trained here by the Shannon Price/Scott Miller partnership. Ultimate Art is driven by Peak Crossing-based Barty Cockburn. It's a 6yo gelding with a resume of 65 starts for 27 wins and 14 placings for a bank roll of $405,263. The all round equine package has dominated the Albion Park fast class events since coming north. "Right now, Ultimate Art is the form horse of Queensland harness racing and looks a legitimate threat to any interstate or New Zealand raider bound for the carnival,'' Barsby said. "It doesn't matter if the race is a sprint affair or a staying contest; he's equally effective at both distances. Importantly, his gate speed has improved markedly since racing consistently at Albion Park, which is a dangerous sign for his rivals". Ultimate Art's targets are the $50,000 Sunshine Sprint on July 9 and the $200,000 Blacks A Fake on July 16. Handy tips SELECTIONS for Albion Park tonight. R1: Box trifecta 1-3-8: The Pac Man (G. Dixon)-Munroe ( C. Turpin McMullen)-Goulburn Guy (S. Graham). R2: Quinella 1-8: Remember Them (N. Dawson) and Chattanoogachoochoo (B. Graham). R3: Quinella 1-8: Cullens Jewel (M. Dux) and Nurse Feelgood (G. Whitaker). R4: Box trifecta 2-6-8: Lombo Ranmiles (H. Barnes)-Yerrington Bob (A. Rees)-Tenacious One (N. Dawson). R5: 2-6-8: Majestic Mach (G. Dixon)-Caesars Folly (M. Neilson)-Avonnova (S. Graham). R6: E/w 4: Fours Enuf (B. Barnes). R7: Quinella 1-8: Exceptional Mach (Chantal Turpin-McMullen) and Couldn't Resist (M. Neilson). R8: Quinella 3-8: Bettor Than Special (S. Graham) and Sicilian Slumber P. McMullen). R9: Box trifecta in four 2-3-4-8: Sunnivue Ted (B. Barry)-Morning Fawlty (B. Barnes)-Justabitnoisy (D. Lee), Saratoga (G. Whitaker). R10: Quinella 2-10: Millwood Chloe (D. McMullen) and Bettor Promise (B. Cockburn). Honour board THE leader board retreats to safe ground this week. Double act Pete McMullen, leading driver on four wins, and better half Chantal Turpin-McMullen, scored identical figures in the training department. Gold Coast at Albion Park, May 13: Exceptional Mach (Pete for Chantal Turpin-McMullen); Drifting Away (Danielle McMullen for Vicki Rasmussen); Blue Colla Moon (Pete for Chantal Turpin-McMullen). Albion Park, May 14: Secret Smile (Danielle McMullen for Ryan Veivers); Bells Beachouse (Pete for Chantal Turpin McMullen); Gallymont Sport (Trent Dawson for Geoff Dawson); Purple Royale (Matt Elkins for Greg Elkins). Albion Park, May 17: Galaxy Hunter Steven Doherty for Mal Charlton); My Precious Fling (Pete for Chantal Turpin McMullen); McKay (Gary Whitaker for Graham Gavin). Redcliffe, May 18: White Eyed Girl (Greg Elkins); A Good Chance (Amy Rees for Donny Smith); Major Montana (Matt Elkins for Darrell Graham). Gold Coast at Redcliffe, May 19: Little Lizzie Jove (Nathan Dawson for Michell Dawson); Katniss (Gary whitaker for Meredith Hanrahan); Change The Nation (Nathan Dawson for Stephen Bunz); The Last Gindi (Gary Whitaker for Donny Smith); Better Tulhurst (Brendan Barnes for Alistair Barnes); Plain Dream (Rob Gorman for Jay Edmunds). Trot Tactics with Denis Smith Reprinted with permission of the Queensland Times site

QUEENSLAND racing’s long- running cobalt scandal is set to resume next month with four harness racing trainers and at least one thoroughbred trainer set to face stewards inquiries over positive tests. Racing Queensland’s chief harness racing steward David Farquharson confirmed Darrel Graham, Darren Weeks, Paul McGregor and Neale Scott will all face inquiries next month after horses in their care returned positives to cobalt last year. Thoroughbred trainer Lynn Paton has also been informed she is likely to face an inquiry next month but Toowoomba trainer Rochelle Smith is yet to be notified of any progression with her case. Movement on most of the cases comes after months of no action as Racing Queensland waited on legal advice before progressing with the cases. Farquharson said yesterday Racing Queensland were now comfortable with proceeding with the cases. “There was just some issues in regards to the Racing Act and also the way that we test samples and the way we do things,” Farquharson said. “We’ve been mindful of that and we’ve worked through all those issues so that doesn’t occur again. We are very confident now progressing forward with these cobalts that we are complying with the rules.” A host of Queensland thoroughbred and harness trainers had bans overturned last year due to a legal loophole in the Racing Act. By Brad Davidson Reprinted with permission of the Gold Coast Bulletin  

He’s earned almost a half a million dollars on the track and has been a top three finisher at 70% of his race starts - Five Card Draw is a quality racehorse and is set to be the headliner at the Melbourne Cup Day harness racing meeting at Gympie on Tuesday. Fernvale trainer Darrel Graham will take a truckload of horses to Gympie Racecourse and the stable’s 2015 Redcliffe Gold Cup runner-up Five Card Draw will head up the Gympie team. A multiple Group 1 winner in New Zealand and Group 3 winner in Queensland with a career best mile rate of 1.54.1, Five Card Draw resumes from a let-up at Albion Park on Saturday night in a Q2-Q3 Pace and then will back up three days later to have his first try on the thoroughbred sand racetrack at Gympie. In all Graham will have 11 horses racing on Cup day, he’ll start seven at Gympie and four at Redcliffe with the Peninsula starters in the care of his daughter Brittany.It will be the first drive on the Gympie sand track for Darrel Graham who is known for his have sulky will travel philosophy. “I love driving at these places and supporting the country meetings,” Graham said. “I’ve driven in every harness racing state in Australia, except South Australia and just about every track in every other state." “I always supported Queensland’s country tracks at Rocky, Townsville and Mackay, when they were open and I’m happy to be spending Cup day driving at Gympie and taking my good horses there." “Five Card Draw just had a little issue last time in and has come back good, we will also start another good horse on the team, Mafuta  Vautin at this meeting.” Mafuta Vautin raced by Graham’s wife Linda is a classy racehorse and was a Group 2 winner in the QBred 4yo Triad Final and a Listed Race winner in the QBred Breeders Classic 4yo Final last season. The Rollon Bigred five-year-old pacer has an impeccable record winning 12 of his 18 race starts. Mafuta Vautin hasn’t raced since June. All four races at Gympie are over the 1950 metre course from a mobile start. Graham’s 11 Cup day starters are: Gympie -  Race 1: Millar Montana (4); Lord Baltimore (5) | Race 2: Red Luck (6) | Race 3: Rubys Bad Boy (4); Mafuta Vautin (5) | Race 4: Five Card Draw (4); Rummiking (5) Redcliffe - Race 2: Sista To Mafuta (6) | Race 3: Another Broiadway (5) | Race 4: Lord Jones (1) | Race 5 Montana Falcon (6) David Aldred

LEADING Queensland harness racing trainer Darrel Graham has met Peter Moody to discuss their collective bewilderment over positive tests to cobalt. While not formally charged, Graham has been notified his stable star Mafuta Vautin returned a positive test to cobalt in winning the $50,000 Qbred Triad final at Albion Park on May 30. Leading thoroughbred trainer Moody is fighting a case where Lidari tested positive when placing in the Turnbull Stakes last October. Graham was two days into a recent US holiday when he received news of the swab. Mafuta Vautin, named after colourful rugby league identity Paul Vautin, returned a cobalt reading of 342 micrograms a litre, well above the permitted reading of 200. “I am bewildered,’’ Graham said. “I don’t know anything about the stuff. I wouldn’t even know how to use it or have a clue what it looks like.’’ Representatives from the Day and McDowell families, harness racing licensees who faced cobalt charges, were also present at the meeting with Moody and Graham in Sydney on. Dean McDowell and Neil Day have been suspended for four years on cobalt charges and another three years for failing to attend the hearings. The meeting was also attended by former leading jockey turned trainer Kevin Moses, recently banned for a year for presenting a horse with an elevated cobalt reading. The meeting discussed if horses could have a cobalt level of more than 200mpl by accidental use of supplements. Cobalt use was originally detected in harness horses in the US and tests revealed that it was performance enhancing and a threat to a horse’s heart and nervous system.  

The two latest Queensland trainers to become embroiled in racing’s cobalt doping scandal have claimed their innocence and plan to fight to clear their names. Toowoomba thoroughbred trainer Rochelle Smith will face a stewards’ inquiry next week after two horses in her care returned positives to cobalt. The Smith-trained Vimzig returned a cobalt positive sample after winning a race at Toowoomba on May 16 and stablemate Grey Countess also returned a reading above the cobalt threshold when finishing second in a race at the Gold Coast on May 30. One of the state’s biggest names in harness racing, Darrel Graham also faces an inquiry early next month after his horse Mafuta Vautin returned a positive cobalt reading after winning the Group 2 Qbred Triad 4YO Entires & Geldings Final at Albion Park on May 30. All three positive samples were recorded on dates well after the 200 microgram per litre of urine national cobalt threshold was introduced for both codes. The Courier-Mail can also reveal there has been a further cobalt irregularity recorded in Queensland harness racing. The Queensland harness trainer involved with the irregularity has been notified but RQ stewards are waiting on secondary tests to come back before laying any possible charges. Graham, who is third in the statewide trainers’ premiership this season with his horses earning more than $643,000 in prizemoney in 2014-15, said he was stunned by the positive reading. “I’m completely bamboozled and I’ve had 130 winners for the season and all of a sudden one of these come up,” said Graham, who is currently in America. “The horse was a ($1.40) favourite and we own the horse ourselves and he drew one and if you have a look at the horse’s performances he has had (18 starts and won 12 of them).” Meanwhile, the 28-year-old Smith, who has been training in Toowoomba for eight years, also pleaded her innocence on Tuesday. “Since being informed of the positives I’ve done some research into numerous supplements that we use that contain levels of cobalt so that’s the avenue I’m investigating,” she said. “I’ve had other winners around the same time and all of our horses are treated the same so I was shocked that some had (cobalt positives) and some haven’t. “I’m blown away especially at the levels of one of them.” COBALT INQUIRY WIDENS TO COAST The new positives come after Queensland thoroughbred trainers Jamie McConachy and Len Treloar, who no longer holds a trainers’ licence in Queensland, and harness trainers Shawn Grimsey, Trevor Lambourn and Ken Belford all had horses return positives to cobalt last year. McConachy was found guilty on Tuesday of presenting Vandalised to race in the 2014 Rockhampton Cup with cobalt in his system. By Brad Davidson Reprinted with permission of The Courier-Mail

The harness racing favourites displayed their class in the QBRED Triad Finals at Albion Park last Saturday night. A pair of Gr.1 $100,000 finals was held for the three-year-olds and the results didn’t shock anyone with classy colt A Good Chance breaking through for a well-deserved triumph in the colts and geldings final while stablemates Bettor Promise and Bettorthanspecial fought out the finish in the fillies final. Sent off at odds of $1.30, A Good Chance speared straight to the front in the 2138m feature and was perfectly rated in front by his driver Chris Petroff before kicking clear heading off the back straight. In the home straight, A Good Chance held off a determined finish from Drifting Away to score by a half neck margin while Duke Jujon took inside to grab third some ten metres away. The mile rate was 1;57.5 with his final mile covered in splits of 31.5, 29.9 27.7 and 28.7 seconds. A Good Chance is raced by Maureen Smith while prepared by her husband Donny. The Mr Feelgood – Chance The Walk colt has amassed more than $155,000. In the fillies’ final, the Shannon Price trained Bettor Promise and Bettorthanspecial were expected to fight out the finish and it went to script. Almost. Bettorthanspecial was the best backed runner and started the favourite at $1.60 while Bettor Promise started at odds of $2.60 but it was the latter that led throughout to score in the feature event. Bettor Promise, handled by Bart Cockburn proved too strong defeating Bettorthanspecial while Feel The Faith ran an excellent third after working hard throughout. The mile rate was 1;57.0 with the final mile covered in splits of 29.1, 30.7, 29.2 and 28.5 seconds. The Price fillies repeated their efforts of last season with a top two finish in the Triad Final after Bettorthanspecial beat Bettor Promise but this season was a reverse result. The Bettor's Delight – As Promised filly has now banked more than $158,000. In the Gr.2 $50,000 QBRED Triad Final 4yo Mares Final, race favourite Joys A Babe proved too classy defeating Il Cavalino and Charming Allie in a time of 1;58.8 for the 2138m. Despite being crossed at the start by Il Cavalino, trainer/driver Grant Dixon quickly worked around to re-take the lead and put the event beyond doubt after scoring comfortably at the finish by 3.5 metres. The Art Major – Joy To Behold mare has built up a fine record for her owner/breeders Kevin and Kay Seymour and the victory pushed her earning past $200,000. Joys A Babe has won 16 of her 27 starts to date. In the 4yo entires and geldings final, Mafuta Vautin justified his favoritism ($1.40) when he led throughout defeating Raring To Go and The Duke Downunder. Mafuta Vautin recorded a time of 1;56.7 while running his final mile in splits of 31.1, 29.7, 28.9 and 28.6 seconds. Handled by young New Zealand born reinsman Adam Sanderson for trainer Darrel Graham, the Rollon Bigred – Ashleysplace gelding made a clean sweep of the QBRED features this term after taking the Breeders Classic earlier this season. Bred and raced by Albion Park committeeperson Linda Graham, Mafuta Vautin has now won 11 of his 15 starts with earnings approaching $100,000. Racing Queensland

New Zealand harness racing reinsman Adam Sanderson has been thrust into the ‘hot’ seat this weekend. But it’s a role he’s comfortable with. Leading trainer and his boss, Darrel Graham, has stepped aside and entrusted Sanderson with a key book of drives including Mafuta Vautin in the Gr.2 $50,000 QBRED Triad 4yo Entires and Geldings Final plus Chattanoogachoochoo (Christian Cullen) in the $20,000 Seymour Rising Stars Championship Final. This is nothing new for the stable; Sanderson got the call-up to partner giant filly Montana Marie in the 2013 Gr.2 $75,000 Seymour Nursery Pace Final and duly saluted that night. The 26yo is cool under pressure. “I’ve got some good opportunities this weekend and I’m looking forward to the challenge, Mafuta Vautin has an excellent draw while Chattanoogachoochoo has a shocking draw so it’s a mixed bag in that respect.” Sanderson said. Mafuta Vautin will start a short priced favourite after landing the inside gate and his recent form is very strong including his victory in the QBRED Breeders Classic Final on March 27. The Rollon Bigred – Ashleysplace gelding has started once since that victory and proved too good when leading throughout at Redcliffe in a heat of a Rising Stars Championship but was subsequently scratched from the final. But Graham is confident his charge is in great shape. “It wasn’t anything serious but just enough not to risk him with this race in mind and he’s trained on really well since so I’m confident he’s ready to go. The barrier draw is perfect so hopefully it’s a case of aim and shoot,” Graham said. “I’m happy to take a backseat role this weekend, Linda (wife) and I bred this horse and he’s done an amazing job winning 10 of his 14 starts and I’m looking forward to sitting in the stands with Linda and Stephanie and cheering on both Adam (Mafuta Vautin) and Brittany (My Arthur Bee) in this feature event. “Both kids are driving in good form currently and they both deserve this opportunity so I’ll be leading the cheering from the stands.” Chattanoogachoochoo scored a decisive victory in the heat of the Rising Stars on Tuesday afternoon but fellow heat winner Alleluia (Art Major) drew favourably off the front-line and will start from gate five. Connections are looking at several features in the coming weeks with the winter carnival just around the corner. by Chris Barsby Related Links Fields for Albion Park, Saturday 30 May 2015 Form guide for Albion Park, Saturday 30 May 2015

Former New Zealand gelding Chattanoogachoochoo is the stable star for harness racing trainer Darrel Graham. The Fernvale based horseman registered another century season as trainer yesterday (Tuesday) when his Kiwi import raced away to claim victory in a heat of the weekly Seymour Rising Stars Championship at Albion Park. It’s the third straight season the astute mentor has racked up big numbers. But he’s quick to deflect the praise. “It’s a team effort and I’m lucky to have a great support crew; my wife Linda plus Adam Sanderson and my two girls Brittany and Stephanie all provide in many ways and it’s greatly appreciated. I wouldn’t be able to do it without them.” Graham said. Chattanoogachoochoo now looms as a genuine threat in Saturday’s $20,000 final but has drawn poorly yet again while main dangers Alleluia (5) and Floyd Mayweather (1) both drew favourably. Alleluia rated 1;55.3 in his heat success while Chattanoogachoochoo rated a slightly slower 1;56.6. “I’ve been really happy with the gelding by Christian Cullen since he arrived from New Zealand but we’re not having much luck with draws and luck in running. His record could easily be a lot better but the wheel will turn and we will be ready to make the most of it when it comes our way. “His best asset is his speed and he showed that with his victory yesterday, he stood the leader up a tidy start at the top of the stretch and he grabbed him pretty quickly and won comfortably. We’re going to need a genuine speed in the final and hopefully they go hard from the start which will then give us a chance of finishing off late. “He’s beaten both Alleluia and Floyd Mayweather previously so I know he’s capable but the draw is unkind. Win, lose or draw this weekend, we’re looking at the Premiers Cup with him because he’s a good stand-start horse.” The Graham family are still on a high following the success of Brittany last weekend when successful in the BOTRA Young Drivers Championship series after edging out Hayden Barnes by a solitary point. In July, Brittany heads to North America along with Trent Moffat for a month long learning experience attending some of the country’s premier racetracks and training facilities. They were announced winners of the Mercedes Benz Centenary Classic Young Achievers Award at last year’s Awards night in Brisbane. Both Darrel and Linda are likely to make the trip to the land of Stars and Stripes in support of their daughter. by Chris Barsby

Leading Brisbane harness racing trainer Darrel Graham is hoping the feature race success continues. Fresh from his success last week with Mafuta Vautin in the $25,000 QBRED Breeders Classic Final for 4yo Entires and Geldings at Albion Park, Graham is now eyeing off the Easter Gift. The $16,000 event is programmed for the C2/C5 pacers and has attracted a strong field but Graham has a pair of former Kiwi pacers that look well placed. Graham has last start winners Chattanoogachoochoo and Five Card Draw lining-up in the 2138m feature but both have drawn the second-line. “I’m really happy with both horses and this race looks ideal to kick start their latest campaigns. Obviously the barrier draws could’ve been better but I’m confident both horses will perform at the required level.” Graham said. Chattanoogachoochoo is the most recent addition to his Fernvale stables after being purchased following his victory at Rangiora on February 26. The Christian Cullen gelding was placed in 1:52.7 at Ashburton two starts ago after coming from a long way back. Since arriving in Brisbane, Chattanoogachoochoo was struck down by a virus which forced his scratching from the recent Gr.2 $50,000 Silks Restaurant Cup series but a sharp trial earlier this week proved he was back on track. Chattanoogachoochoo won the 1660m trial defeating open class performer Terror Time in a time of 1;56.2 coming off the speed. “It was a nice trial, we got an easy run just off the pace and he finished really well once he got clear while running good sectionals." "It was just a quiet trial in lead-up to this assignment this weekend." “The virus wasn’t bad but I wasn’t going to take any risks with him so that’s why we pulled him out of that series a few weeks ago, the winter carnival is fast approaching and there’s plenty of good money races available so it was the best decision to make." “I think he’s a nice horse with good speed so we’re hoping he can measure up around carnival time, this race looks an ideal starting point for him and I’m happy with the way he’s come through the trial.” Last start Gr.3 $45,000 4yo Championship winner Five Card Draw is resuming since July last year but following a spate of recent trials, the former New Zealand 2yo of the Year appears ready. The Bettors Delight gelding is carrying extra condition but Graham is confident he will perform well fresh. “We decided to give him a good break at the end of his last campaign, he’s done a super job and we gave him a couple of months off, he spent his time at Dean’s (Shannon – owner) property at Maleny." “We’re looking at the winter carnival with this guy as well, we know he’s up to that level and we’ll head that way in the coming months." He’s had a few trials in recent weeks and his most recent on Tuesday night was pleasing when second behind Epaulette." “They went solid time in the trial and he chased strongly, he had a good blow after and has trained on well since." "Whatever he does this weekend, he will improve considerably which is what we want.” Graham will partner Chattanoogachoochoo while in-form reinsman Adam Sanderson will take the lines behind Five Card Draw. Both pacers are raced by Dean Shannon. Chris Barsby - Racing Queensland

Harness racing is very competitive at the best of times but add a bit of Trans Tasman rivalry to the mix and it becomes ultra competitive. That is the best way to describe the Australasian Young Guns Challenge which has been played out at Ashburton Raceway on Thursday and Alexandra Park last night. With funding help from long time Queensland harness racing supporter Kevin Seymour, seven drivers from the sunshine state have spent Cup Week in New Zealand. While here they have competed against the leading South Island drivers in a race on Thursday at Ashburton and against the leading North Island drivers in a race at Alexandra Park last night. One of the Queenslanders to impress a few of the local judges is young Hayden Barnes who incidentally celebrated his 19th birthday on New Zealand Cup day. That must have been a good omen as Hayden was a close second on Ranfurly Rulz at Ashburton and drove Millie Sampson to a convincing win at Alexandra Park last night. Hayden’s passion for the sport of harness racing came from his father, Al Barnes. As time went by and with his love and interest of the horses continuing to grow, school became more of a distraction. Deciding to leave school in grade 10, Hayden managed to secure a position with the Darrel Graham stable. After three and a half years of working for Darrel, Hayden had gained a great start in his career and his education continued.  Last season Hayden was offered a job working with the newly established Turpin McMullen racing team, led by Chantal Turpin and Pete McMullen, which he accepted. On the last night of the 2013 racing season, Hayden’s biggest win thus far came when partnering My Jellignite who scored in a brisk 1.53.3 rate in an Open class event at Albion Park. Hayden has already chalked up eight winners so far this season in Queensland from just fifty drives and looks to be a young driver with a big future in the sport. Harnesslink Media    

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