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Talented harness racing filly Zara’s Delight is ready to go again. The Rock N Roll Heaven – Barely Legal three-year-old has not raced since being a beaten favourite in the Gr.1 $322,000 Australian Pacing Gold Fillies Final at Tabcorp Park, Melton last May. After working hard throughout, Zara’s Delight finished 6th behind Jilliby Jitterbug in a mile rate of 1:56.5. Following a lengthy break, the Jack Butler trained filly is set to attack in her latest campaign. “I wanted her to have a big break and she got that, we spelled her at Bathurst following the Melbourne campaign which me made by road and she’s been back in work for some time. She’s a lot bigger now and she’s really thrived during her time away from the track, I’m hoping she rewards us with a big season.” Butler said. Zara’s Delight has indicated she’s returned in fine form following some neat trials at Albion Park over the past fortnight. Her latest trial (Tuesday) was a convincing 14m romp in a mile rate of 1:57.0 for the 1660m event after racing without cover. The previous trial was a hard held third placed effort behind talented filly Cherish The Moment in a time of 2:01.1. But these latest efforts were marked improvement on her first official trial last month which resulted in a mediocre 6th beaten some 13.75m behind Frankie Rocks. “Fortunately we discovered that she was suffering from a throat complaint and that explained the performance because that was way out of character, we had to treat the problem and we backed right off on the work while she recovered. “Given that we had such a great foundation underneath her before this bump in the road, it didn’t take long to bring her up to peak fitness again. I’m sure we jumped on this issue before it became much worse so we got luck in many ways. “I’ve been really pleased with her latest efforts, I told Bart (Cockburn – driver) not to come off a helmet in her first trial back while she was allowed to stretch right out today and she finished off in a good last half, she pulled up well and I think she’s ready to head back to the races now.” Butler will scan the programs but the long term aim appears to be the Brisbane winter carnival later this year. The Gr.3 $40,000 Gold Bracelet at Bathurst next month has already been ruled out. “We won’t be heading back to Bathurst with her, I think that series comes up a little too soon plus I don’t want to travel her that far by road again. I’m planning on giving her a couple of runs within the next month before building her up over the coming months. “The Queensland Oaks is the long term aim while both Gold Coast and Redcliffe Oaks are also heavily favoured, at this stage we might just stick close to home rather than hitting the road with her this season.” Zara’s Delight is raced by Sydney businessman Rod Smith. by Chris Barsby

When your luck runs out, it’s out. But it will change in time. This is the conundrum with talented Queensland trotter Our Overanova who was primed to tackle the nation’s best during the Victorian Summer of Glory harness racing carnival which is currently underway. After being left grounded in Brisbane when his flight was cancelled at the last minute, he’s now battling a low-grade virus. “What’s the old saying, that’s racing or something to that effect? It’s very unfortunate the timing but it’s not all doom and gloom and he is showing signs of improvement. We’re pulling another blood at the end of this week and that will paint a clearer picture and determine what path we take for our southern ventures.” Owner Greg Mitchell said. After resuming from a short let-up, the Monarchy gelding looked set to tackle the Victorian features at Melton after scoring two impressive victories at Albion Park in solid time under mobile conditions. The Grant Dixon prepared trotter was set to tackle a raft of feature events in Melbourne culminating with the Gr.1 $300,000 Pryde’s Easifeed Great Southern Star at Melton on March 12. While the aim remains with the March 12 heat/final feature, a revised route to Melbourne appears likely. “All going to plan and with a clean bill of health later this week, I intend on racing him in Sydney at Tabcorp Park Menangle in the Gr.1 Trotters Cup over the marathon distance at the end of the month and then hopefully we head further south straight after that race. “Obviously the depth around is the deepest it’s been for a long time but my horse deserves his chance and I’m keen to give him that shot against the best. I have no doubt he can handle the format of the Great Southern Star with the heat/final on the same night. “We will give him a start at Albion Park before heading to Sydney, he was very fit before the setback so I’m sure he’ll come to hand quickly once he’s up and going again. We should know exactly where we’re at by Friday afternoon and that gives us time to be fully fit before heading south.” The Gr.1 $50,000 TAB Trotters Cup over 3009m is scheduled for Sunday, February 28. And the Dixon stable will be looking at having representation on the feature day of racing with talented three-year-olds Get In The Groove and Frankie Rocks also being considered for the Gr.1 $200,000 Oaks and Derby respectively. The main event that day will be the $750,000 Miracle Mile, the final leg of the Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit for 2015/16. by Chris Barsby

Iron tough pacer Destreos registered yet another harness racing victory at Albion Park tonight (Saturday). Facing the starter for the 394th time, the horse commonly known as ‘Dexter’ claimed win number 86. Amazingly, it was his 65th success at headquarters of Queensland harness racing, a record that appears never to be broken. His prizemoney has now surpassed $700,000. Prepared by Ken Rattray and handled by regular pilot Kelli Dawson, the 12yo Astreos gelding sat without cover in the Mercedes Benz Toowong Open Pace before defeating Lebron and American Legend. The 1660m event was covered in a time of 1:55.9 on a rain affected track with splits of 29.7, 30.8, 28.8 and 26.8 seconds. It was his 5th win this season and his first since winning the Redcliffe Christmas Cup on December 23. “He went great, he got really keen with the steady speed early but he kept fighting all the way to the line. He’s just an incredible old horse, the best I’ve ever driven.” Dawson said. On Tuesday, Destreos was beaten by a nose margin by his stablemate Funny Boy in a time of 1:56.4 for 2138m after being caught outside leader Devil Dodger. Between Destreos and Funny Boy, the two hardened warriors have amassed more than $1 million in stakes. Funny Boy has won 22 races at Albion Park. Both Destreos and Funny Boy will start again on Tuesday at Albion Park in the Lunchbox Lodge Spelling Farm at 1660m and will start from gate five while Funny Boy has drawn the inside gate. by Chris Barsby

I start off this week with an apology. As happens on occasions we attribute a winning performance to the wrong individual, be it horse, trainer or driver. French Lesson got the bikkies at Redcliffe trained by T Gillespie and driven by harness racing's Brittany Graham. The trainer in this instance was Tayla Gillespie and it was her was first success as a trainer with French Lesson her seventh runner. Only licensed in early December last year, Tayla has gone close to the money with Ride On A Rainbow running second the previous Wednesday night at start number six. The tally of starters now stands at nine as of Thursday with Ride On A Rainbow adding another Wednesday night second to the total. Tayla, who does a bit of part-time work at a Minden cafe to keep her cash reserves up, has nine horses at work jogging at Prenzlau and fast work at Marburg. Among these are the mare Any Left and the ex-Sydney trotter Cyclone Jake, a gelding which will make its presence felt in the square-gaiters events. There is also an unnamed two-year-old showing enough promise to be aimed at Redcliffe Sale Race. The 20-year-olds ambition is to develop an elite team of horses with a view of being a force in Saturday night racing. With this in mind, the opening gambit is to start French Lesson in a 'band' race next Saturday night. The never ending message which comes out of any harness racing administration is "we must get young people into the game". Easier said than done, but one lass from the Minden / Prenzlau area has become involved in a significant and successful fashion. Tayla looks set to ride on a rainbow of her own making.   Aldred has hands full It is said "the devil makes work for idle hands". If that is the case, former operations manager (harness) David Aldred is in line for sainthood. From his former position, Aldred has been handed the poison chalice of liaison officer between Racing Queensland and the state's 109 country race clubs. It conjures up visions of someone in a central position in the pen, trying to feed several litters of weaner pigs that weren't fed yesterday. 'Pandemonium' doesn't do it justice. Whatever Racing Queensland is paying, it could not be enough. However, Aldred is a first-class administrator and will no doubt come out a winner. At what personal cost we will not know.   Changes to races For fans of the trotter, there will be some calendar, format and prizemoney adjustments to the two major features, the Darrell Alexander Memorial and the Jim McNeil Memorial. These changes will be known soon. Marburg's next races are February 13, watch this space.   Handy tips Selections for Albion Park tonight: R1 E/w 3: Artzone (T Dawson). R2: E/w 1: Bennys Ace (M Nielson). R3: Quinella 3-8: Superliner (A Sanderson) and Feel the Courage (P McMullen). R4: Quinella 1-10: Deano Robyn (G Dixon) and Regal Point (M Nielson). R5: E/w 1: Long Term Fella (L Weidemann). R6: E/w 2: Lord Jones (A Sanderson). R7: E/w 8: Bad Jellys Courage (P Greig). R8: Quinella 1-8: Lebron (P McMullen) and American Legend (B Cockburn). R9: E/w 1: Midnight Lights (B Barnes). R10: Quinella 3-9: Astral Traveller (P Greig) and Senitas Success (S Graham).   HONOUR BOARD The leaderboard still shows lower Brisbane Valley bias, with Bill Crosby and Darrell Graham tying the trainers section on three winners a piece, while Gary Whitaker on four wins narrowly nosed out Nathan Dawson on three wins on the sulky. Most pleasing efforts were Rafferty Delights (Dean Weller) and Lisas Lawyer with young Kiwi Jacob Wallace having a look at the winner's circle. Gold Coast at Albion Park, January 22: Zac Mac (Hayden Barnes for Darren Hooper); Constantly Sideways (Gary Whitaker for Bill Crosby); Subtle Advice (Nathan Dawson for Don Hancock); Weedons Express (Kelly Dawson for Ray Law). Albion Park, January 23: Five Card Draw (Darrell Graham); Galactic Eagle (Danielle McMullen for Shane Graham); Wandary Splash (Nathan Dawson for Kerry Smith); Withalotofluck (Barty Cockburn for Steve Cini); Glengowan (Trevor Lambourn for Rachel Scott); Feel the Courage (Pete for Chantal Turpin-McMullen); Lady White Water (Gary Whitaker for Bill Crosby). Albion Park, January 26: Daenerys Targaryen (Adam Sanderson); Elzboy (Shane Graham for Steve Towns); Lord Jones (Brittany Graham for Darrell Graham). Redcliffe, January 27: Feel Good Factor (Stacey Weidemann for Ron Sallis); Lifeontopoftheworld (Graham Whitaker for Ron Sallis); Stout (Danielle McMullen for John McMullen); Holly Furlong (Matt Elkins for Greg Elkins). Gold Coast at Redcliffe, January 28: Stayintown Tonight (Gary Whitaker for Bill Crosby); Lisas Lawyer (Jacob Wallace for Darrell Graham); Georgia Grace (Adam Sanderson for Shaun Grimsey); Rafferty Delights (Dean Weller); King Grin (Mat Elkins for Greg Elkins); Annika Magic (Nathan Dawson for Kerry Smith). Trot Tactics with QT columnist Denis Smith Reprinted with permission of the Queensland Times  

Reigning Australian harness racing driver of the year Shane Graham is again setting the pace. The Queensland based reinsman became the first to reach triple figures for the 2015/16 season after steering home Joseph H at Albion Park yesterday (Tuesday) in the Lunchbox Lodge Spelling Farm Trotters Handicap. It also marks his 12th century season with the last 10 all in a row. Graham, 33, currently leads the National premiership from champion Victorian horseman Chris Alford who has driven 92 winners to date while fellow Queenslander Pete McMullen sits third with 80 winners. “It’s been another hectic season and the century caught me by surprise a little bit but it’s nice to bring up three figures again. Here’s hoping I can get another 100 wins before the end of the season.” Graham said. The frequent flyer points have continued to climb after making numerous trips to Perth in recent months where he has competed regularly at Gloucester Park. Graham partnered free-legged pacer Avonnova during last month’s Inter Dominion series which resulted in a 4th placing in the $1.3 million Grand Final won by Victorian star Lennytheshark. In recent weeks, Graham jetted across the country to partner the Gary Hall trained Run Oneover in the Fremantle and WA Pacing Cups, both Group 1 events. Last season was clearly his busiest and finished the season with 259 winners, edging out Greg Sugars who finished with 254. It was the first time that Graham has registered a double century. “That’s the aim for the rest of the season now, I’m hoping to reach 200 again and I think that’s a realistic goal. The fact that I don’t see myself travelling as much given that Ian (Gurney – trainer) is returning home gives me a great chance of consistency at both Albion Park and Redcliffe. “Competing during the Inter Dominion series was great and Nova running 4th in the final has clearly been the highlight so far this season, let’s hope we can land a few majors during the winter carnival later this year.” Graham has several bookings for the rest of the week at both Albion Park and Redcliffe. by Chris Barsby

Progressive Queensland pacer Frankie Rocks is set for another challenge. And it’s a steep one at that. The raw three-year-old harness racing talent took the prized scalp of Catcha Lefty yesterday (Tuesday) at Albion Park when leading throughout in career best time of 1:53.6 with closing sectionals of 27.8 and 27.9 seconds. Most experts had considered Catcha Lefty to be a standout in the sunshine state following his excellent rookie term last season. Prior to the victory, connections had already nominated him for the Gr.1 $200,000 Victoria Derby series in Melbourne. Heats are scheduled for this weekend at Ballarat. “It’s a very quick turnaround but we’ve always held him in very high regard but he just needed time and maturity. He’s come back in very good order and he keeps improving, this is a quantum class rise but Kevin and Kay (Seymour – owners) are prepared to give him his chance of qualifying for the final.” Trainer/driver Grant Dixon said. The regally bred gelding is unbeaten this season winning all three starts and connections are looking at several features including local and interstate targets. Following his first two victories this term, Dixon took him back to the trials for further education. And the benefit of those extra trials was on display yesterday. “I wanted him back in the draw, which was the main reason for the trials because most of his career has been spent on the outside. I also tinkered with his gear and removed the pacifiers and opened him right up and he reacted well. “He ran the gate very well and showed he’s capable of using his early speed if required and then he settled perfectly and backed right off with an easy second quarter, he never fired up and showed total control with that early burn which was very pleasing. “He’s grown up a lot, he could work the best horses at the stable and beat them but he struggled on race day but that was maturity. He handled Leos Best in trackwork comfortably, the difference was Leos Best is a good racehorse and proved that by winning two features last season but the penny has finally dropped with Frankie now.” Frankie Rocks is scheduled to fly south on Thursday before lining up in the last of three qualifying heats on Saturday night. The big striding gelding has drawn gate six in the 2200m heat. “The draw is not perfect but that’s what we’ve got and hopefully he can qualify, that’s the main priority. The field boasts some excellent talent and it might be a little difficult to assess all the form considering they come from near and far. “This trip may have come up a little soon but he deserves his chance, I didn’t expect him to be running 1:53 at his third run back this season either. The trip away might be another chance for him to mature a little more.” Dual feature race winner Leos Best starts in the second qualifying Derby Heat and has drawn gate four. The Cammibest gelding has returned in good form this season resulting in a first-up victory at Albion Park in 1:56.2 before chasing home exciting pacer Mattgregor into third in a brilliant time of 1:53.4. Leos Best hasn’t started since December 22. “I’m happy for him to make the trip and he should perform well, he enjoyed a great season last term and he’s returned in the same manner. “I just backed off a little bit with him after his last start and he’s in good shape, he’s a good little racehorse that always puts in.” Both three-year-olds are raced by Kevin and Kay Seymour. by Chris Barsby

Raymond (Ray) Lowndes, the author of the wonderful trotting book “From Kedron to Albion Park” passed away last week in Brisbane, aged 70. Ray single-handedly recorded the long and colourful history of harness racing in Queensland in a series of captivating books. Many a racing writer has referenced Ray's works which provide a great insight to the history and characters in Queensland trotting. Ray’s books took us back to the golden era of trotting in this state when it boomed between  1950 – 1970 and he brought the sport's history to life going right back to the start in the 1880’s when horses were the main form of transport, through to the depression and the war years when trotting also flourished in our suburbs. He wrote that trotting tracks were once dotted throughout the Brisbane suburbs and before trotting was popular at Albion Park there with ovals all around the city at Coorparoo, Wynnum , Cleveland, Redland Bay, Lawnton, Virginia, Mt.Gravatt, Rocklea, Redcliffe and Amberley. John Wren's Kedron Park wias the main event and night racing starting at the Gabba and later at the Exhibition grounds.  The books were certainly very absorbing to read with obscure facts about colourful trotting personalities combined with some wonderful photos of races and venues. Ray’s promotion of trotting was recognized by Racing Queensland with a "Service to the Industry Award". His son Chris, one of three children and the child who usually accompanied Ray to his beloved Rocklea trots said he was proud of his father’s achievements and recalls him receiving the racing award. “We would discuss the characters and horses in trotting and one thing that I came to realise quickly was the respect that dad had from the people in the industry,  he has a deep passion for the sport and he had an photographic memory for horses and trainers names, dates and racing colours,” Chris said. “He loved Rocklea, and that was the track that we most attended together, he was quite shattered when that track closed, he also loved the exhibition trots and getting out and about the little country tracks and meeting the people. “The last trot race he saw was on my mobile phone, I went to the (2015) Exhibition and recorded the show trot final and replayed it to him, he was thrilled that the trots were back at the Exhibition.” Late of Western Suburbs, Brisbane, Raymond Bruce Lowndes passed away at the Wesley Hospital five days ago. A funeral service for Ray will be held in the Chapel of Centenary Memorial Gardens, corner of Wacol Station Road and Wolston Road, Sumner on Thursday (21/01/16) commencing at 2.00pm. by David Aldred

Classy Queensland youngster Catcha Lefty is ready to go again. But he just needs to secure a start in a trial before connections look at a race return in the coming weeks to kick start his three-year-old harness racing season. Sounds easy, right? The Cristina Monte and Charlie Cini trained Village Jasper – Lefty gelding was balloted from a trial this week leaving connections a little bemused. Catcha Lefty hasn’t started since competing in the Gr.1 $288,000 Australasian Breeders Crown Final at Melton on August 30 when 7th behind the unbeaten and freakishly talented Our Waikiki Beach. “The reason we want to trail him is because we’ve made an adjustment to his gear and just want to make sure everything is right with it. We’re planning on racing him this season without a headcheck and just want to see how he is behind the mobile without it, he works at home without it and its fine but the mobile on race day is a little different.” Cini said. The precocious talent secured 7 victories from 11 starts last season and clearly stamped himself as one of the shining talents in the sunshine state and another big season beckons. Obvious targets will include the QBRED features while many other features are also under strong consideration, another interstate trip will depend on how his form reads at the time. “He’s ready to go but we want that trial, we nominated for yesterday (Tuesday) but got left out because of a number of reasons. They told me preference was being given to those who need to re-qualify and then they said stable allocation was at a premium, it’s a little frustrating when you have a horse like this standing at home with nowhere to go. “We’re really happy with the way he’s come up at this stage of his preparation but a trial without the headcheck will certainly tell us a lot more. He had a good break after arriving home from Melbourne and he put on plenty of weight, probably a little too much because he loves his tucker but he has trimmed down nicely now. “The QBRED features are the main targets and hopefully the winter carnival will offer something for us but that’s a long way down the track at this stage. The talent pool is very strong so it won’t be easy this season but you have to be in it to win it.” The biggest success last season for Catcha Lefty came via the Gr.2 $50,000 QBRED Breeders Classic Final at Albion Park back in June. by Chris Barsby

Team Raboki gained a pass mark. The astute training combination of Shannon Price and Scott Miller ventured to the Albion Park harness racing trials yesterday (Tuesday) with many of their stablestars and walked away contently with their efforts. Classy mares Bettor Promise and Bettorthanspecial headlined their attack and the four-year-olds finished one/two in the 1660m workout in a time of 1:58.6 while the final half was covered in 56.8 seconds. It was Bettorthanspecial who finished best to score after sitting three back on the pegs and sprinting hardest to run down Bettor Promise while stablemates Ideal Situation held third after leading and Chevals Clivesdale made good late ground for fourth. “It was a pleasing start for all involved and we can hopefully build on that now as we look to kick off the New Year. I was happy with both mares and they will certainly improve on that effort but I will definitely look to trial them again before looking at a race return.” Co-trainer Scott Miller said. Both mares enjoyed solid success last season with Bettor Promise winning the Gr.1 $100,000 QBRED Triad 3yo Fillies Final defeating Bettorthanspecial while they both filled placings in other classics throughout the term. The Rising Stars Championships proved to be a goldmine for both mares last season but with the series discontinued, connections are now looking for other alternatives. “They were great because it enabled you to chase some good prizemoney in between other targets throughout the year, it gave you something to aim at and then chase it but they weren’t easy to win. Sure, we got lucky along the way and both mares snared a few but it was never easy. “We actually haven't got anything to aim at right now with these mares now that those races have been scrapped so we’ll just take them along nice and steady and see if we can find something along the way. We will sit down and go through all the programs and see if anything jumps out after their next trial. “Both mares come back on fairly loose marks and we’ll start looking at interstate features in the coming months and see if we can find something suitable south of the border. They would need to keep improving before we look at any major mare’s events but you never know what can happen in this game, things can change pretty dramatically.” Meanwhile, last start Gr.1 QBRED Triad 2yo Fillies winner Special Moment is expected back at the trials next week as she prepares for a busy season of racing ahead. The Bettor's Delight filly will focus on local events but connections believe she has improved during her time away from the track. “The plan is to trial her and Rocknrollhighlight (QBRED consolation winner) next week, both fillies are likely to have two trials before racing again because they both had lengthy breaks following their rookie campaigns. “Both fillies have returned in good shape and we’re hopeful they can measure up again, we know we got lucky winning the Triad with Special Moment. I think Grant Dixon and his fillies (Get in the Groove & Cherish the Moment) look the testing material.” Talented junior reinsman Paul Diebert is set to join the stables in the coming weeks. by Chris Barsby

Boxing Day racing action will take place this weekend at the Albion Park Harness Racing Club with the metropolitan club staging an eight race program on Saturday night. And the highlight for punters is the monster guaranteed trifecta pool being staged on the opening race, the Sports Today on 4BC Pace which will be run over the 1660m distance. Gambling giant UBET have a Christmas special and are offering a $200,000 guaranteed trifecta pool which will rise to great heights throughout the day. A strong field has been assembled with several in-form runners taking their spot including last start winners Northern Line and Zac Mac. Northern Line has drawn ideally in gate one while Zac Mac has drawn the opposite and must overcome gate seven, the outside of the front-line. Both pacers have recorded back to back victories but will face stiff opposition from the likes of Camelot Bay, Munroe and Regal Point among others. Gambling giant UBET are offering several jackpots throughout the program including a guaranteed $25,000 Quadrella pool – the quaddie will be staged on races 2, 3, 4 & 5. All quaddie legs appear to be open events with several winning chances in all races. UBET are also offering a $5000 First 4 jackpot on race three. The first of 8 races is scheduled to start at 5.08pm. Check out Racing Queensland form analyst Darren Clayton’s thoughts on the program The Albion Park Harness Racing Club would like to wish everyone a happy holiday season. Contact the club on (07) 3262 2577 or via the website at or simply drop an Related Links Fields for Albion Park, Saturday 26 December 2015 Form guide for Albion Park, Saturday 26 December 2015

Classy Queensland filly Get In The Groove looks set for another busy harness racing season ahead. The Mach Three – Get Happy filly proved her class during her rookie season resulting in a victory in the Gr.2 $50,000 QBRED Breeders Classic Final before bad luck marred the remainder of her term. The Grant Dixon prepared youngster was badly checked in the Gr.1 $100,000 QBRED Triad Final which ultimately unseated driver Trista Dixon before venturing south to Melbourne for the Australasian Breeders Crown series. A stylish semi-final victory paved the way for the final but that’s where her luck ended because the final was dominated by the freakish New Zealand filly Our Dream About Me. Get In The Groove ended her maiden season of racing with a 4th placing in the $288,000 final. But now she’s back and ready to go following two recent trial victories at her home track of Albion Park. “We gave her a good break following the Melbourne campaign and she thrived during her time away from the track, she’s always been a big girl and now she’s been able to grow into her frame which augers well for the future. I’m happy with how she’s coming along and the trials were definitely required, she had a good blow after both hit-outs.” Dixon said. Get In The Groove came from behind and used the passing lane to win her first trial on December 8 at Albion Park before leading throughout yesterday (Tuesday) in much quicker time. The big striding filly only rated 2:01.4 with a final quarter of 28.5 seconds in that initial trial but rolled along in a time of 1:57.4 with the final half covered in 57.3 seconds in her latest public showing. “It was a nice trial and she proved she’s ready to go again, her warm-up was good and she felt comfortable in front while rolling along by herself but quickened when required. The runner-up (Georgia Grace) is a proven feature race winner so I think the form out of the trial will be fairly handy. “I’m yet to sit down and map a campaign for her just yet but I’ll be doing that in the coming days, the obvious features will include the QBRED features while an Oaks feature would be great for her long term value. “The current crop of QBRED fillies looks pretty handy with a number of likely prospects starting to pop back-up again. I’ve also got Cherish The Moment in my team but I think Get In The Groove is my by best prospect at this stage, she’s classy and very professional.” Get In The Groove managed 4 victories from 7 starts last season. Meanwhile, Cherish The Moment is yet to rejoin the Dixon stables but the Mach Three – Cherry Cheer filly is back in pre-training with Peter Bell at Goldrush Lodge on the Darling Downs. Cherish The Moment scored 2 wins and 2 placings from 4 starts last season. Both fillies are raced by Kevin and Kay Seymour. by Chris Barsby

Following consultation with the Albion Park Harness Racing Club and representatives of the industry which form the Harness Industry Discussion Group, Racing Queensland can announce that effective January 1, 2016 the local Metropolitan Q Racing structure will be replaced by a similar local Metropolitan class structure using “Band” assessments maintaining the same benefits that Q Racing currently offers. By introducing Band assessments Racing Queensland can take advantage of the Band Handicapping feature which is available to Queensland through the National Harness Racing Handicapping system avoiding much of the manual workload and pitfalls associated with the fully manually maintained Q Racing system. The Band assessments once loaded into the HaRVey system will display on HarnessWeb, race fields and form guides assisting licensees and the public to understand and follow the local assessments through this more identifiable method. Please see below for a summary of Band assessments compared to Q assessments:- Q0       To be known as Qualifying Pace – no Band allocated Q1 =    Band 5 Q2 =    Band 4 Q3 =    Band 3 Q4 =    Band 2 Q5+ = Band 1 Each horse to win a local Metropolitan (Band Penalty) race between the value of $11,000 to $14,999 will advance to the next Band.  Horses which drop back in class after ten (10) non-winning performances will also have their Band assessment reduced at this time. New horses to Queensland will be allocated a Band assessment equivalent to their Metropolitan assessment.  For example M1 = Band 5, M2 = Band 4 and so on. Given the Band system will be introduced at short notice the race programs printed in the soon to be released January PACE Magazine will not be available however owners and trainers are encouraged to refer to the Meeting Calendar on the Australian Harness Racing website for the full program details.  Printed copies of the programs will also be made available at the Acceptance Offices at the Albion Park and Redcliffe Harness Racing Clubs. The Saturday programs for January and February 2016 will be totally re-written complete with new race codes and any of the races programmed as a “Conditioned Pace” midweek will feature minor changes. For queries please contact the Harness Racing Office on (07) 3869 9774. 

In-form pacer Mind The Wire is aiming to complete the summer double this weekend at Albion Park. Following his success last week in the Lord Mayors Cup, the Shane Graham trained harness racing pacer looms as the horse to beat in this week’s AISF Christmas Cup after landing the inside gate. Both events are Listed $25,000 features. And with the big name Brisbane open class missing either through injury or chasing interstate features, the stage is set for Mind The Wire to complete the double. “He’s racing in terrific form and should take a power of beating again this weekend, he’s really toughened up with the racing at Albion Park and his winning effort last week was another big step forward for him.” Graham said. Since arriving from Victoria twelve months ago as a lowly assessed C4 grade pacer, Mind The Wire has made constant improvement which has netted him 10 Queensland victories including 9 at headquarters. And the rapport with former Bathurst based reinsman John O’Shea is also a key factor in the gelding’s success with 5 victories from 6 drives to date. Naturally, Graham was faced with little option but to leave the in-form duo together again this weekend with Graham himself taking the drive on Jackaroo Bromac while young Brendan Barnes taking the drive behind Goulburn Guy. The trio of runners look set to play a key role after they all drew favourably, Mind The Wire will start from inside gate with Jackaroo Bromac drawn alongside him in gate two while Goulburn Guy starts from the inside of the second-line, directly behind Mind The Wire. “The draws have panned out really well and hopefully we can make the most of them this weekend, the extra distance shouldn’t pose any concerns for any of them either because they’re all versatile and really fit right now. “The fact that John has clicked so well with him is a great thing and he was always going to drive this horse again this weekend wherever he drew and I was going to sort out the other drives around him. I actually think I have a good understanding with Jackaroo Bromac so I’ll stick with him while Goulburn Guy and Brendan (Barnes) went well together last week. “The depth of the field isn’t there like I was expecting; the Price runners (Caesars Folly & American Legend) didn’t back-up while Destreos is bypassing the longer distance events. It still won’t be any pushover but I’m really happy with my trio and all three have legitimate claims given the right luck.” The reigning Australian Driver of the Year won this event last year behind the Ian Gurney trained Avonnova who defeated the now retired mare Forever Gold. Hoofnote: Mind The Wire’s older half-brother Drunken Desire, another good performer in Queensland for Vicki Rasmussen and Shane Graham is now based in North America and still winning races. Drunken Desire won 11 races during his Queensland stint. Fields for Albion Park, Saturday 19 December 2015 Form guide for Albion Park, Saturday 19 December 2015

The first inklings of the immediate future of the animal racing codes of Queensland has been revealed in the proposed "Tracking to Sustainability'' plan released by the Office of Racing. Before we go into orbit at the prospect of prizemoney cuts, the following schedule will provide for a level of stakes some 3.4% above that paid out in the 2013/14 racing season. Effectively, what this provides, is breathing space and opportunity for harness racing clubs to put a great deal more effort into ensuring that they are providing fans and punters with the product they want. We all, from Racing Queensland down the line, have to try harder to increase turnover to a point where we can hold our heads up. Whingeing, screaming for assistance and interviewing ex-pat trainer/drivers who only return here to plunder our feature races, or quoting locals who are planning to shift camp to the south to chase the larger stakes on offer there, does no good at all. Bob Bentley's famous statement to Derek Payne (the former financial director of Clive Palmer's horse interests) that harness would receive "corporate reality'' is now with us. Sadly, so are a raft of corporate bookmakers competing with our major source of operating revenue, UBET, a company to which we are contractually tied for the next 29 years. We must work with what we have and we must make it succeed. We will only do it with a much simplified racing format for the punters to do their own reliable form and iron-tight integrity. Nothing less will provide a reliable starting point. The following is the short version of the proposed prize- money structure from January 1. Harness racing: Reduction of $2.9 million in prizemoney levels overall. Feature prizemoney to be reduced by $515,000. QBred scheme set to receive a $990,000 reduction. Albion Park Friday: Prizemoney levels to be reduced to eight races at $4000 and one race at $3501. Albion Park Saturday: Prizemoney levels to be reduced to one race at $13,000, five races at $11,000 and four races at $7500. Albion Park Tuesday: Prizemoney levels to be reduced to seven races at $5000 and two races at $3501. Redcliffe Wednesday: to remain at $3,501 for eight races. Marburg Saturday (non TAB): to remain at $1501 for five races. Grass TAB meetings on various Sundays: $2,500 for three to eight races. The following illustrates clearly that harness has by no means been singled out or ill treated. Brad Davidson reports for News Limited that thoroughbred racing will cop most of the reduction with $8.5 million to be cut from non-country racing prizemoney and $4.6 million cut from country racing prizemoney. However, the $4.6 million cut to country racing is expected to be fully compensated in a $21 million package set to be released from the State Government, which will see funding to the country sector remain similar over the next four years. Prizemoney for harness racing will be reduced by $2.9 million next financial year, which will leave the code 1.3 per cent worse off than the levels before increases were announced late last year. Greyhound racing will face a $2.64 million reduction in prizemoney next financial year with the average prizemoney a race set to decrease by two per cent to $1863 next financial year. The local breeding schemes for thoroughbred (QTIS) and harness (QBred) racing will also be reduced by $1.56 million and $990,000 respectively next financial year. Christmas Ducks salute THERE used to be an old saying when I was a boy, which surfaced every year at the festive season. Anyone who enjoyed a bit of luck or success in the matter of money at this time was greeted by friends with the salutation: "Christmas Ducks''. The ducks went in the bag for the extended family of Beryl (Nanna) Dawson on Tuesday at Albion Park. First up on the winner board was grandson Nathan who piloted Betonthebay to victory in race one for Redcliffe trainer Donny Smith. Then, perhaps the most pleasing result, was the win of Danny Cool for John McMullen. In a sport noted for the longevity of many active participants, John noticeably concentrated on training some years to make way for offspring Pete and Narissa who benefited greatly from the additional time in the sulky on race day. The win on Danny Cool was JMcM's first for five years, and he was suitably chuffed. Race 3 then went to Lively Hero, trained and driven by grand daughter, Melissa Gillies for herself and husband Keith. There was nothing new in the fourth leg of this family quadrella with star driver and grandson Pete chasing home Feel The Courage, trained by his better half Chantal in race six. The ducks are in the freezer or the bank waiting for the oven or conversion to other less traditional delicacies on Christmas Day. Great gift idea IF you are looking for a gift for a "horsey'' person, the December issue of Horses and People Magazine is worth a look. It includes top articles on hoof care for the older horse and how to avoid transport induced problems in the horse. Handy tips SELECTIONS for Albion Park tonight. R1: E/w 2: Always Prompt (G. Dixon). R2: Quinella 1-8: Regal Point (M. Neilson) and Withalotofluck (N. McMullen). R3: Quinella1-8: Buy Chevron Direct (P. McMullen) and Bennys Ace (M. Neilson). R4: Quinella 1-2: Billy Badlands (N. Dawson) and A Passion for Aces (G. Dixon). R5: E/w 4: Artzone (T. Dawson). R6: No 1: Joys A Babe (G. Dixon). R7: Quinella 5-10: American Legend (B. Cockburn) and Caesars Folly (M. Neilson). R8: E/w 1: Corey ODonohue (H. Barnes). R9: Quinella 1-3: Lady Royal Sue (N. Dawson) and Jewel Lehigh (D. Weeks). R10: Quinella 1-8: Releven Dream (M. Neilson) and Goldstar Invasion (S. Graham). Honour board PETE McMullen leading the way again, driving six winners for the week. His other half Chantal was equally outstanding training five winners in the same timeframe. Gold Coast at Albion Park, December 4: My Precious Fling (Pete for Chantal Turpin-McMullen); Withalotofluck (Narissa McMullen for Steve Cini); Attacovita (Brittany Graham for Debbie Rodney); Lady Royal Sue (Narissa for John McMullen); Cee Uin LA (Rob Gorman). Albion Park, December 5: Buy Chevron Direct (Pete for Chantal Turpin-McMullen); Five Card Draw (Adam Sanderson for Darrell Graham); Morethanmeetstheye (Gary Whitaker for Bill Crosby); Duke of The Moment (Pete for Chantal Turpin-McMullen). Albion Park, December 8: Betonthebay (Nathan Dawson for Donny Smith); Danny Cool (John McMullen); Lively Hero (Melissa Gillies); Feel The Courage (Pete for Chantal Turpin-McMullen). Redcliffe, December 9: Bee Jays Abundance (Steven Burke); Sookie Go goes (Nathan Dawson for Steve Benham); Maybe Cruising (Matt Elkins for Greg Elkins); Oozing Confidence (Pete for Darren Hooper); Gold Affair (Gary Litzow for Wendy Smart). Gold Coast at Redcliffe, December 10: King Of Spin Lombo (Trent Moffat for Matt Wright); Sweet as Candy (Gary Whitaker for Vic Frost); Blue Eyed Suzie (Pete for Chantal Turpin-McMullen); Annika Magic (Gary Whitaker for Kerry Smith). QT trotting columnist Denis Smith Reprinted with permission of the site

With the state’s best pacer Avonnova chasing the Inter Dominion prize this weekend, several others have their eye on the local harness racing prize. The Listed $25,000 Lord Mayors Cup at Albion Park is the feature event and a quality field has been assembled including the classy duo from the stables of Shannon Price and Scott Miller. The husband and wife combination prepare Caesars Folly and American Legend and both will be heavily fancied to claim the prize after boasting excellent recent form. Caesars Folly returns from a Sydney campaign while American Legend enters the event as a last start winner after coming from last with his trademark finishing burst. “Both the Lord Mayors and Christmas Cups have been on our radar for some time and knowing that Ian (Gurney) is away with his trio (Avonnova, Our Hi Jinx & Mach Alert) for the Inter Dominion in Perth, we thought we had a good chance of picking up one or hopefully both races.” Miller said. Both horses have proven to be perennial performers at Albion Park and just recently, Caesars Folly was beaten narrowly in the Grand Circuit opener of the season with his neck second behind Our Hi Jinx in the Gr.1 $200,000 Queensland Pacing Championship on October 24. Caesars Folly went winless in his two start Menangle mission last month finishing 7th behind Freyburg before backing up the following week when 4th behind Lochinver. Connections were left disappointed. “There were no excuses for him in either start down there, he went down in perfect order and off a really good run in the QPC but he simply didn’t fire. If we pinpoint one issue during his campaign, it was during that heatwave and he was feeling it but that’s something every horse had to deal with. “Since being back home in his normal environment he seems like his old self and we’re expecting a good showing from him, his record at the track is very good, it’s a massive class drop for him and he should end up with a good trip from his trailing draw. “American Legend continues to step up and his two runs this campaign have been excellent; he was up against a pace bias first up but his sectionals were brilliant coming out of his latest victory. He’ll probably drift back from that awkward draw but he only needs some luck to be very dangerous in this race. I don’t think either horse will far from the action.” Both horses will back-up next week in the Listed $25,000 Christmas Cup. The stable also have an excellent chance in the feature trot this weekend, the $12,000 Statewide Taxation Trotters Christmas Cup with former Victorian Drunken Maniac looming as a major force. Since relocating north, Drunken Maniac has been placed in all six starts at Albion Park including his close third on Tuesday behind Jarvsofaks, a rival again this weekend. “He’s a consistent trotter with a great will and he’s been a nice addition to the stable, he’s actually on the market for sale and would be a great boost to any stable.” Miller said. Drunken Maniac meets in-form trotters Releven Dream, Tyron Lochie, Sharons Millicent and Goldstar Invasion in the 2138m stand-start feature. by Chris Barsby   Fields for Albion Park, Saturday 12 December 2015 Form guide for Albion Park, Saturday 12 December 2015

This time, he was on the other side of the lens. Dan Costello, Queensland racing’s ‘Mr. Nice Guy’ and resident photographer for all three racing codes in the south-east of the state was on hand to take a winning snap at Albion Park yesterday (Tuesday) but this time it was with a twist. The winning performance of former New Zealand trotter Danny Cool is co-owned by Costello along with Kerry McLean. It was the gelding’s maiden Australian victory. “It was a great thrill to finally see the horse perform at his best, he’s got ability but his manners have let him down since his arrival. It’s always a great thrill taking winning photographs of happy connections and this time I got to share that experience and it’s so infectious. I’m sure the horse was named after me.” Costello said with a wry smile. The winning effort from Danny Cool keeps the record of Costello in perfect shape following his first venture into ownership with Karloo Mac and young trainer/driver Trent Moffat. Another thrill emanating from the victory was the fact John McMullen took the winning himself, therefore, breaking a long run of outs. “It was great to see John turn back the clock, he’s driven hundreds of winners throughout his career but takes a backseat nowadays allowing his kids (Pete, Narissa & Dannielle) to handle the bulk of the stable driving. I think it’s been five years between victories for John so it was great to part of that yesterday. “I met Kerry after taking many photographs of him with winning horses with John at Albion Park and he asked if I was interested in racing a horse with him and I jumped at the opportunity plus the name of the horse was a big winner with me. “Hopefully that victory will give him the confidence he needs and it will be the first of many now, I think he’s capable of winning a few more. The ownership side of the business is very exciting; I’m two for two with horses that have raced for me to date while I’ve got a two-year-old in work with Trent (Moffat) that we purchased from the sales who is shaping nicely at this stage.” Costello has proven to be the driving force in conjunction with the Albion Park Harness Racing Club in forming a syndicate to race a pacer recently purchased from New Zealand. The pacer will be trained by leading horseman Peter Greig. “I want to see more people buying and racing more horses in Brisbane and I thought this was a great to introduce new people into the game, I get excited winning races and I want others to share that feeling because it is infectious. “The process with the club has been great, selecting the trainer and then sourcing the horse from New Zealand. The horse is Royal Taz and early reports are pleasing so here’s an opportunity to get involved, let me take your winning photograph.” For further information about the syndicate – visit the website at by Chris Barsby

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