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He’s back! Triple Queensland Horse of the Year Avonnova is out of his short lived retirement and is set to grace a harness racing track again. On December 17, almost three months ago, harness racing fans bid farewell to the free-legged warrior following his crushing victory in the Gr.2 $50,000 Gold Coast Cup at Albion Park in near track record time. The onetime claimer was radically transformed under the leadership of Ian Gurney and became a cult figure in his adopted Sunshine State for many seasons. Now, he’s set to make a return. “He didn’t cope well with retirement and couldn’t make the transition from stable life to paddock life, he would free leg up and down the paddock fence on the inside of my track and try and work with the horses on the track and would always be singing out and stand at his gate.” Gurney said. And the return is imminent. Gurney is toying with either giving him a trial on Friday or next Tuesday, both trials sessions are programmed for Albion Park. “As soon as I started working him he settled so he obviously just missed being one of the boys and going through his normal routine. I suppose it’s like a professional athlete failing to come to terms that retirement is permanent and they know nothing else. “His workload has gradually been built up over the last month and he’s now fit enough to go to the trials, he never really lost his base foundation of fitness so it hasn’t taken long for him to come up again. He’s worked well with the likes of Mach Alert and Ideal Scott recently.” Gurney stepped out Mach Alert yesterday (Tuesday) in a 1660m trial and scored comfortably in a time of 1:54.8. The return of the Gurney open class performers is a timely boost for the local free-for-all ranks and with the winter carnival looming, an assault on the Sunshine Sprint and Blacks A Fake is a distinct possibility. The Gr.1 $200,000 UBET Blacks A Fake is scheduled for July 15 and will complete the 2016/17 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit season. And while Avonnova is a Group 1 winner, he is yet to win an event that carries Grand Circuit status. Avonnova has won 49 races from 154 starts while banking more than $879,000. Chris Barsby

Team Dixon dominated the feature card of harness racing at Albion Park tonight (Saturday). The powerhouse stable took both feature events, the $20,000 Wayne Wilson Memorial Paleface Adios Classic and the $20,000 Jim McNeil Memorial Trotting Championship Final. Red Charmer ($16.90) stormed down the outside to claim victory in the juvenile event defeating Well Disguised ($18.30) and Datsgood ($1.60 fav) in a time of 1:57.4. The Mr Feelgood – Rhapsody In Red filly is raced by her breeders, Kevin and Kay Seymour. It was start number two tonight for Red Charmer and her maiden success. It was proved a great result for Mr Feelgood, siring the winner and the third placegetter which is a timely boost with the Queensland yearling sales starting next week. The stable was heavily fancied to win the event with Colt Thirty One but he was a late scratching earlier in the day. Former New Zealand trotter Foursharesmorebeers ($4.40) scored a thrilling victory in the Jim McNeil Memorial Trotting Championship Final defeating Scorched ($2.70) by a nose margin while Illdoitwhenimready ($5.90) finished a further 8m away in third. The time was 3:27.2 which gave Foursharesmorebeers a mile rate of 2:05.5 for the 2647m stand-start feature. Foursharesmorebeers is raced by Greg Mitchell. First staged in 2011, it is the first time the Dixon stable has won the Jim McNeil Memorial Trotting Championship Final. Team Dixon won 5 of the 10 races staged tonight including both features while Monarkmac, The Black Assassin and Joys A Babe also proved triumphant. Trista Dixon took driving honours with a treble after partnering Monarkmac, Joys A Babe and Red Charmer. And given her excellent form in recent weeks, Trista now moves into outright second in the metropolitan driver’s premiership trailing Grant by 6 wins. Grant has driven 32 metro winners while Trista sits second with 26 winners. Team Dixon leads the National Trainers Premiership also and hold a healthy lead over Perth based husband and wife team of Greg and Skye Bond while Bathurst horseman Steve Turnbull sits third. Racing Queensland

The Sydney raid for leading harness racing Queensland trainer Grant Dixon is far from over. Fresh off the success on Saturday night which netted a victory in the Gr.2 $52,000 Slingsby Holdings Drivers Invitational with in-form pacer Leos Best, the stable will take aim at a few more targets before returning home. A team of four was sent south earlier this month under the watchful eye of stable foreman Dale Hogan and the results have been more than pleasing. Leos Best headlined the team while Our Overanova, Max Richter and Eleniark have also assisted the team. “The results have been very pleasing, especially with Leo doing such a great job and with a little more luck, maybe the others could’ve picked up a few races too. All credit goes to Dale, he’s been with them the whole time and the results have come his way.” Dixon said. Leos Best has won all three races to date in Sydney highlighted by his all the way success on Saturday night when handled by ace reinsman Mat Rue. North American based Andy McCarthy handled him in his first two victories. But the four-year-old will have another crack at Menangle before returning home to the sunshine state in readiness for the Brisbane winter carnival. Dixon has marked a $30,000 MO/M1 series starting on March 10 for his in-form Cammibest gelding. “It looks a good option for him so he may as well stay down for that before returning home, he’s holding his form so well. He was in great form before he left and he’s continued on with that form in his three starts to date, he obviously loves the big track too. “Dale said he come through the weekend in really good order so that made the decision easier to target that next series. We’re stabled on course this time and obviously their enjoying the change of scenery and environment. “We’ll be looking at number of features during the carnival up here, being a four-year-old gives us plenty of range. He’s a very professional little horse, always has been and he just keeps stepping up to the mark. We were all very excited to see him win on Saturday night; both Andy and Mat did a great job.” Leos Best has won 21 of his 34 starts to date while banking close to $300,000 in prizemoney. He is the fastest son of Cammibest following his 1:50.7 victory two starts ago. Cammibest stands at Burwood Stud on the Darling Downs. Dixon has a pair of runners competing tomorrow at Menangle with Eleniark and Max Richter both starting while he has three runners engaged at Albion Park. Chris Barsby

IF you are given the opportunity to disburse $53 million in varying amounts to Queensland racing clubs for capital investment in long-term infrastructure, you must be very confident of your abilities in this area, or you seek advice. The decision-makers at Racing Queensland, mindful of the need to "get it right", have played the "advice card" and engaged the services of Deloitte Brisbane in a consultative and advisory capacity. The following impressive statement is taken from the Deloitte Brisbane website. It indicates a reassuring level of self confidence in the company's ability to meet RQ's requirements. "With a well-connected and professional team of more than 480 people and over 50 partners, we are leading providers of assurance, advisory, taxation and consulting services. Ours is a high performance culture that thrives on the strength and success of its people. It's a culture that sets us apart from the rest. Represented by the Deloitte Seven Signals, we take pride in the 'way we do business,' and it shows." Feedback from a teleconference last Monday between members of the Marburg Pacing Association executive and the Deloitte team appears to support a belief that the "wizards" want all the facts, before formulating any opinions or offering any advice. Mattgregor worth watching INTEREST is at Menangle tonight when the up and coming Mattgregor, from the McMullen-Turpin team, goes around against older horses in the $100,000 Bohemia Crystal Free For All. Among the field are last year's Miracle Mile winner Have Faith In Me, Tiger Tara, Major Crocker and Tac Tate. With eight wins from 14 outings and a loose assessment of C5-M0, Mattgregor has shown exceptional ability from the start of his career. Connections feel that he will acquit himself well in top company. After tonight, the gelded son of Rob Roy Mattgregor will head home to Patrick Estate for a break before being set for the Winter Carnival at Albion Park. Lodge for sale AFTER a career in harness racing covering 64 of his 79 years, Bernie Wilson has put Runnymede Lodge on the market. Wilson, who in his younger days in Sydney put the polish on NSW Oaks winner and later good producing broodmare Negro Dancer, cites the depressed state of harness racing in Queensland at the present time. The veteran further believes that there is little light evident at the end of the current tunnel. Runnymede Lodge is on 50 acres with an irrigation licence on Warrill Creek and has accommodation for a minimum of 40 horses plus a huge list of harness and associated horse equipment. Ring Bernie on 5464 3349 for a yarn about better days. Some earn big dollars I KNOW times are tough, but not for all of us. Having spent considerable time in the belief that Thursday at Redcliffe, with its current prize money set at just short of $3000, was a meeting set aside for the moderate horse and the hobbyist trainer, I was amazed to see an Albion Park Saturday night field go round this Thursday in a lowly R4 and better event. The winner, Forever Texas, stopped the clock at 1-57.4. The seven runners have career earnings of $942,697 at an average of $134,671. Only one runner had earnings less than $100,000. It is debacles such as this which lead to the exodus of the battlers. When will enough be enough for the top 10%? Handy tips SELECTIONS for Albion Park tonight. R1: Box trifecta 1-3-5: Forty Seven Flash (M.Elkins)- Monarkmac (T. Dixon)- Always Prompt (G. Dixon). R2: Quinella 1-8: Supaliner and Itsallaboutlu (S. Graham). R3: Quinella 1-8: Stawbs Ideal Act and Days End (Madi Dux). R4: Quinella 1-8: The Duke Downunder (S. Doherty) and Sams Cam (S. Graham). R5: Box trifecta 1-2-8: Fours Enuf Tas (L.Weidemann)-Sports Chaton (G. Dixon)-Real Social (N. Dawson). R6: Box trifecta 1-7-8: Alleluia (G. Dixon)-The Space Invader (Madi Dux)-Polished Rocks (M. Neilson). R7: Quinella 1-2: Ivegotalife and Joys A Babe (T. Dixon). R8: E/w 5: Im Jack Black (G. Whitaker). R9: E/w 5: Shezabonnygem (G. Dixon). Honour board A new face on the trainer's side of the leader board this week with Purga-based Steve Bunz taking the honours with three winners. They included a Sunday outing to Tamworth, NSW. King of the drivers was Nathan Dawson who landed four for the term, three of which were for Steve Bunz. The most pleasing was five drivers on two winners apiece. Albion Park, February 17: Real Social (Nathan Dawson for Steve Bunz); Sicilian Slumber (Hayden Barnes for Chantal Turpin). Albion Park, February 18: Zac Mac (Danielle McMullen for Darren Hooper); Reservation Road (Narissa McMullen); Sweet As Candy (Matt Elkins for Vic Frost). Tamworth, February 19: Change the Nation (Nathan Dawson for Steve Bunz); Emargee (Ricky Gordon). Albion Park, February 21: Rock With Sam (Barty Cockburn for Mick Butler); Abitgoingonhere (Barty Cockburn for Mick Butler); Real Social (Nathan Dawson for Steve Bunz). Redcliffe, February 22: Projectile (Matt Elkins for Kerry Smith); Ima Sea Storm (Nathan Dawson for Graham White); Royal Taz (Narissa McMullen for John McMullen); Trentleigh (Hayden Barnes for D.R. Pollock). Redcliffe, February 23: Our Champion (Gary Whitaker for Mal Charlton); Soi Cowboy (Gary Whitaker for Ken Belford). TROT TACTICS with Denis Smith Reprinted with permission of The Queensland Times

He’s done it again. Aging harness racing warrior Destreos, aka ‘King of the Creek’, registered yet another victory today (Tuesday) at his favourite track – Albion Park! The thirteen-year-old gelding was facing the starter for the 420th time and posted his 93rd victory when defeating Karloo Kix and Liberalitus in a time of 1:53.3 for the 1660m. His winning time was well outside of his ‘PB’ effort of 1:51.9. Amazingly, the victory was his 69th at headquarters while his earning have surpassed $760,000. Raced by Sally Stingel and prepared by her partner Ken Rattray, Destreos was handled by regular driver Kelli Dawson. Having his fourth run back following a let-up, Destreos wasted little time in working his way to the front and despite racing keenly throughout, he dug deep when seriously challenged by Karloo Kix over the concluding stages. At the finish, Destreos scored by a half head margin. Sectionals were covered in 28.3, 29.7, 27.2 and 28.3 seconds. “He raced super and proved yet again there is no quit in him, his first couple of runs back have been pleasing and the draw was a major advantage today. I think he’ll keep getting better with more racing following his break, he thrives on racing so there’s more to come for sure.” Winning driver Kelli Dawson said. Destreos will start again this weekend when he lines up on Saturday night at Albion Park in the Rio Meteor Sulky Open Pace which will be staged over the distance of 2138m. The Astreos gelding will start from gate 5. The winning effort from Destreos and Dawson also provided more funds for the Women’s Cancer Foundation. Racing Queensland is partnering with Women's Cancer Foundation and joining Team Teal in 2017 to raise funds for ovarian cancer research. From 1 February until 11 March, more than 200 reinswomen across Australia are wearing teal coloured driving pants, striving to be the first across the line to secure donations for Women's Cancer Foundation. Fifteen reinswomen in Queensland are taking on the challenge, with a donation of $600 up for grabs in each race during the campaign thanks to sponsors Racing Queensland, UBET, Albion Park Harness Racing Club and Redcliffe Harness Racing Club. The Teal Pants Promotion was launched by Duncan McPherson OAM, whose wife Lyn passed away in 2010 after battling ovarian cancer for 15 months. Chris Barsby

A Gold Coast man will face court accused of assaulting three people involved in Queensland's harness racing industry. The 32-year-old Molendinar man was charged on Wednesday following a four-month investigation involving the Queensland Racing Crime Squad and Queensland Racing Integrity Commission, which included coercive hearings.' He is due to appear in the Southport Magistrates Court on February 15 on two charges of assault occasioning bodily harm and two counts of common assault. Read more here

Nathan Dawson is hitting the road. The hard working harness racing Queensland based junior driver heads to Tamworth tomorrow (Friday) in a bid to win his biggest race to date, the Listed $25,000 Pryde's Easifeed Golden Guitar Final. But Dawson is hoping the six hour road trip to the nation’s capital of country music will be a lot easier coming home with the trophy riding along in the passenger seat when he combines with the Steve Bunz trained Real Social. "It's a big day when you head to Tamworth, it's a long drive but when you’re a live chance in a race like this, it makes it worthwhile and I'm hopeful of another bold showing from the favourable draw." Dawson said. Real Social sports saddlecloth number three but is likely to start from gate two if the emergency Hero Bromac doesn't secure a start. Last week, Real Social broke the track record when rating 1:57.1 for the 1980m distance. His time was significantly quicker than former New Zealand pacer Rakarazor who returned a mile rate of 1:57.5 in her Australian debut. And this is the horse that Dawson fears most. "As good as my horse was winning last week, I thought Rakarazor was just as impressive and given it was having its first start over here and being from a great stable, it's going to be very hard to beat in the final. "I thought my horse was very good last week, he went to the line with the plugs still in and actually ran through the line really well. My intention is to lead again and I'm very happy that we drew better than Rakarazor. "The track was in great shape last week and it will be the same again this week, my horse handled it very well and cornered great. I think he has a really strong chance and I'm looking forward to being part of the action, a big crowd is tipped to attend." While Dawson has competed at Tamworth previously, this is maiden Golden Guitar series. If successful, the celebrations will be on hold with Dawson making the trek straight back to his Glamorganvale base, near Ipswich, in readiness for his commitments at Albion Park the following night. Dawson is booked for four runners at Albion Park including former Queensland Pacing Championship winner Ideal Scott for trainer Ian Gurney in the open pace while he has five drives at the non-TAB Marburg program earlier in the day. Last night (Wednesday) at Redcliffe he landed a winning treble with victories behind Win Or Die, Ima Sea Storm and Make A Point. Dawson is currently 6th in the Queensland State Drivers Premiership. Chris Barsby  

Harness racing driver Trista Dixon created history at Albion Park tonight (Saturday). The 28-year-old mother of two drove five winners at the metropolitan meeting, no other female driver has achieved the feat previously at the sunshine state’s premier harness venue. From six drives at the meeting, Dixon scored with Joys A Babe, Feel The Faith, Max Richter, Rocknrollhighlight and Justabitnoisy. Her husband and leading trainer Grant prepared her first four winners while her catch drive behind the trotter Justabitnoisy was prepared by Doug Lee. In her other drive, Dixon finished third behind Tightrope. Lola Weidemann has driven five winners at a meeting on six previous occasions but never before at Albion Park, her hauls coming at Rockhampton (x 2), Townsville (x 2), Rocklea and Mackay. Miss Inter Dominion Natalie Rasmussen has driven five winners at a meeting previously, her haul coming at the Gold Coast back in 2008 while Julie Weidemann has also landed five winners at a meeting when successful at Rockhampton back in 2005. Three female drivers have landed winning quartets at Albion Park previously including Kylie Rasmussen (x 4), Natalie Rasmussen (x 2) and Narissa McMullen. Only one female driver has driven six winners at a single meeting, record setting reinswoman Kerryn Manning has achieved the feat on three separate occasions – Moonee Valley (2000), Nyah (2005) and Ararat (2005). In total, nine female drivers have driven five winners at a single meeting. This list includes Kerryn Manning (x 9), Amanda Turnbull (x 9), Lauren Tritton (x 8) and Lola Weidemann (x 6) are all multiple winners while Kate Gath, Danielle Hill, Jodi Quinlan, Natalie Rasmussen and Julie Weidemann have also achieved the feat previously. Dixon joins Manning (x 3 – Moonee Valley) and Hill (Globe Derby) for achieving the feat at a metropolitan venue. A relatively late starter in the driving caper, Dixon has now driven in excess 110 career winners and currently sits in the Top 5 metropolitan premiership race at Albion Park. Her feature race victories include the 2015 Gr.2 $50,000 QBRED Breeders Classic Final with Get In The Groove for 2yo fillies plus the 2015 Listed $25,000 Flashing Red with Magical Mel, both winners prepared by Grant. Dixon lists Majestic Mach (35 wins - $792k) as her best horse driven. Congratulations Trista Dixon. Chris Barsby

The Albion Park Harness Racing Club will play host to a strong eight race program this Saturday night. And again punters have the chance to win big with gambling giant UBET offering a massive $200,000 guaranteed trifecta pool on the opening race. Yes, a guaranteed $200,000 trifecta pool! The Supporting QLD Racing? UBET Pace over 2138m kicks off the program and features a strong line-up with several in-form runners engaged including several open class performers. Quality pacers include Teo Enteo, Majestic Major and Caesars Folly who take on up and coming types like Murano, The Space Invader, Broadway Playboy and Joys A Babe among others. Last week, both Teo Enteo and Caesars Folly caught the eye with slashing efforts behind Mach Alert in fast time but both will require some luck after both drew awkwardly. Teo Enteo starts from gate seven, the outside of the front-line while Caesars Folly starts from gate eleven, the outside of the second-line. Majestic Major is resuming since November 12 when beaten as an odds-on elect behind Caesars Folly in a time of 1:53.1. The Grant Dixon trained pacer will start from gate ten. Last start winner The Space Invader is chasing back to back victories following his career best performance last week when successful in a brilliant time of 1:51.6. Trainer Stephen Cini has his team racing in good form and is also represented by Polished Rocks. Polished Rocks starts from gate two while The Space Invader will start from gate four. A guaranteed Quadrella of $20,000 is also programmed; the quaddie will be staged on races 2, 3, 4 & 5. Again, the quaddie legs look open with several even races assembled meaning punters will get great value. Last week, the UBET quaddie dividend paid in excess of $2000. Check out Racing Queensland form analyst Darren Clayton’s thoughts on the program The APHRC would like to wish all Queensland trained performers competing in Sydney at Menangle on Saturday night the very best of luck. The first of 8 races is scheduled to start at 5.15pm. Contact the club on (07) 3262 2577 or via the website at or simply drop an email Fields for Albion Park, Saturday 21 January 2017 Form guide for Albion Park, Saturday 21 January 2017

What is a Blue Hen harness racing mare? “Blue hen mares produce high quality foals that will go on to produce high quality themselves.” That’s just one explanation. A number of mares quickly spring to mind but the mighty mare Scuse Me from New Zealand is the obvious right now in the southern hemisphere with her progeny dominating both in the sales ring plus on the racetrack. Looking locally, Queensland has produced a number of quality broodmares including Lefty, Ark Maree and French Flair among others. Lefty, a mare by Fake Left was recently inducted into the Queensland Harness Racing Hall of Fame for her deeds in the breeding barn while the legacy of Ark Maree will continue to prosper for many years to come. French Flair has the honour of producing two millionaire performers in standout mares Miss Galvinator and Fleur De Lil. Well, there is now another member of the Queensland “Golden Girls” in the shape of Bronski Gorgeous. And just like Lefty, Bronski Gorgeous is a daughter of the incomparable Fake Left from the Land Grant mare Promise. On the racetrack, Bronski Gorgeous was a jet and won 23 races while being placed on another 42 occasions before retiring with more than $210,000 in stakes. Her biggest victory came via the 2004 4yo QBRED Triad Mares Final at Albion Park while she was also placed in the Gr.1 Queensland Oaks behind star Sydney filly Ashlees Babe and Lara Croft. But her deeds in the breeding barn are most memorable. From 7 foals to race – 7 winners! The latest winner came yesterday (Tuesday) at Albion Park when Private Bronski obliterated her rivals in the Sure Duz Mosquito Candle Pace in a time of 1:55.0. Private Bronski is a four-year-old daughter of super sire Art Major and she now joins her full brothers in Major, General, Brigadier and Admiral as a winner through this golden cross. And all the ‘boys’ have been better than average. Major Bronski won 13 of his 24 starts and banked $94k before injury cut short his career, General Bronski won 17 from 63 starts ($160k), Brigadier Bronski won 18 of his 94 starts ($209k) while Admiral Bronski won 15 of his 61 starts ($169k). Breeze On Bronski (by Mcardle) and Sombronskisomwhere (by Somebeachsomewhere) are her other winners. Still to come is a two-year-old Mach Three filly which is named Bronski Mackenzie who is in work with Vicki Rasmussen and Shane Graham. Her latest progeny is an Art Major colt which is now a yearling. And the man behind Bronski Gorgeous is none other than the internationally experienced Stuart Hunter. Chris Barsby

A deadheat in harness racing is not uncommon. But when it’s a father/son combination that can’t be split, that’s a little out of the ordinary. At Albion Park yesterday (Friday), Greg and Matt Elkins hit the line together when Crowning Glory and Surface To Air fought out the finish in the Mercedes Benz Toowong Pace. Judge Jason Suli couldn’t separate the pair and a deadheat result was posted. It’s the first time a deadheat has been called between father and son at Albion Park. And given the huge family involvement within the industry, it comes as a major surprise to most. There have been plenty of quinella results and even trifecta results between family members, for instance, the McCarthy family have provided plenty of one-two-three results and that’s the same for the McMullen family too but never before have they deadheated for first at Albion Park, the state’s premier track. In the run, Crowning Glory (Matt) led initially before handing over to the hard running Surface To Air (Greg) who maintained a solid tempo throughout. In the straight, Surface To Air kicked strongly while Crowning Glory went to the sprint lane. Both pacers are former South Australians, both bred by Peter and Lesley Medhurst. The Medhurst couple have been prolific breeders and enjoyed great success over many decades including the likes of Purple Royale, King Grin, Forty Seven Flash, Mister Seelster, Paris To Berlin, Devil Fish, Indigo Rose, Catch A Bouquet, Thorninmyside, Petes Elect, Flaming Hero and Floral Edge among many others. The association between both families’ spans over 20 years after Elkins purchased Merodach. And only last season, the enjoyed great success through the richly talented mare Purple Royale who was crowned the Albion Park Mare of the Year. Purple Royale has won 24 of her 60 career starts to date while 7 of those victories have come via Albion Park. The Royal Mattjesty mare was a runner-up in the 2016 Fleur De Lil Ladyship Stakes behind Barynya, now based in North America. The next target for the Elkins family is to land a triple deadheat result with Justin, Matt’s younger brother.   Chris Barsby

Plans for promising Brisbane filly Eleniark have been shelved. Harness racing connections have been toying with the idea of sending their three-year-old south to Sydney for a shot at the Gr.3 $30,000 JL Raith Memorial this Saturday night. Eleniark is unbeaten in all three starts to date this season and looms as one of the best fillies in her home state but connections are going to wait and bypass the upcoming Sydney feature. “We gave her a trial on Friday afternoon and she performed well although she didn’t win and we discussed our options across the weekend and decided her work today (Monday) would determine whether the trip went ahead or not.” Trainer/driver Grant Dixon said. Eleniark was beaten a by a neck margin behind Sams A Champ in Friday’s trial in a time of 2:00.3 while the last half was covered in a slick 56.3 seconds. But a trip to Sydney next month for the Gr.1 Form 700 $200,000 NSW Oaks on February 25 remains a distinct possibility. The Somebeachsomewhere – Ark Monroe filly will be set for local targets later this season which includes the QBRED Triad plus the winter carnival features during July. Eleniark is not eligible for the Australasian Breeders Crown in Melbourne at the end of the season. “This timing is just not right to make this trip now so we’ve decided to stay home and hopefully we will make the trip next month for the Oaks. “Her trial was ok and her work today was also sound but probably not as sharp in comparison to the previous weeks. It’s a long season for a three-year-old and unfortunately, you can’t race in everything.” Eleniark has won 5 of her 10 starts to date which includes a victory in 1:54.9. by Chris Barsby

Young couple Chantal Turpin and Pete McMullen will call Sydney home for the next couple of months. The emerging force in the harness racing training and driving ranks are spreading their wings to Menangle with a big team this week. They will be based on course at Menangle preparing their team from the state of the art training facilities. And they will arrive this week. “We’ve been talking about making a run at Menangle for some time and now it’s time for action. We’re renting one of the barns for the next two months at this stage and depending on success, it could be longer.” Turpin said. Currently, the young couple sits second in the Queensland state trainers premiership title with perennial force Grant Dixon leading the way by a clear margin. They have prepared 52 winners for the season to date. Spearheading their Sydney assault will be a pair of talented ex-kiwi pacers in Watch Pulp Fiction and Mattgregor. Watch Pulp Fiction arrived in Australia last month and was responsible for an excellent first-up effort in the Gr.2 $50,000 Gold Coast Cup when fourth behind recently retired star Avonnova before winning easily against moderate opposition on Saturday night. The Art Major five-year-old will be set for a number of events at Menangle during the upcoming Miracle Mile carnival. Connections paid a hefty price for the richly talented entire and have even nominated him for the Victorian summer carnival features, the Victoria and Hunter Cups. Mattgregor is a speedy four-year-old that has built an imposing record of 7 wins from 11 starts to date; all victories have come at Albion Park. The Rob Roy Mattgregor gelding scored an impressive victory at the trials on Friday afternoon in a time of 1:55.3 at Albion Park while finishing off in a sub 27 final split. “They’re the two main stays of the stable right now; we’ve got high hopes for both pacers and hopefully they can step it up a gear during this campaign. Obviously it’s going to be much harder for both of them but they deserve their chance. “Their main asset is their speed, both are very fast horses. The style of racing in Sydney is vastly different compared to what we’re used to up here but we think they will fit in quite nicely given the right luck. “We have a number of M0 type horses that have raced through their grades up here and they deserve their opportunity to win their M0 down here for the better prizemoney. At this stage, we’ll have about 10 horses coming down while another bunch will come down in the coming weeks.” McMullen returns from a recent two week driving suspension. The third generation horseman currently sits third in the state driver’s premiership behind Shane Graham and Grant Dixon with 55 winners to date. Stable foreman Hayden Barnes will continue to operate their Patrick Estate stable while they campaign in Sydney. The Turpin/McMullen team head south tomorrow (Tuesday). Chris Barsby

A trio of Queensland harness racing young guns has posted centuries during the festive period. Both Isobel Ross and Matt Elkins each drove their 100th winner while Ryan Veivers trained his 100th winner. At Albion Park last Friday, Ross steered East Emperor to victory via the passing lane for trainer Bart Cockburn to beat race favourite Long Hot Summer and My Ajaye in a time of 1:55.1 for the 1660m event. Ross, a third generation horseperson is the daughter of Donny and Lisa Ross and has been driving for the past two seasons. The Ross family is synonymous with Queensland harness racing through their role as the ‘redcoats’ at the meetings staged in the south-east corner of the state. Her grandfather, father and brother all perform their duty of care each and every meeting. Isobel is currently employed with former Bathurst horseman Jack Butler. The following night at Albion Park, Elkins booted home race favourite Tenacious One for trainer Donny Smith in the Garrards Pace in a time of 1:53.5 for the 1660m. Elkins has enjoyed good success with Smith in recent times with several Albion Park victories behind both Tenacious One and A Good Chance. A talented cricket player, Elkins has become a permanent member of the family operation with father Greg and younger brother Justin and the stable has enjoyed solid success. Former South Australian mare Purple Royale has been the ‘flag bearer’ for the stable and boasts numerous Albion Park victories. Both Ross and Elkins sit amongst the premiership leaders in the concession drivers title, Ross is 6th while Elkins is 7th. At the same meeting, Veivers prepared Vader who scored a stylish victory in the Hes Making The Bet, Hes Checking It Twice Pace in a time of 1:55.0 for the 1660m event. Veivers owns and trains the Allamerican Ingot gelding and has enjoyed considerable success with the former Victorian since his purchase two years ago. Ken Veivers, Ryan’s grandfather bred and raced star mare Sparkling Melody, a winner of the 2002 Queensland Oaks. Veivers is currently ranked 7th in the state trainers premiership. Chris Barsby

Former star harness racing pacer Lanercost is now on the board. As a sire. The dual Derby winner had his first qualifier yesterday (Tuesday) at Albion Park when Mighty Montana finished third in a 1660m trial against older rivals. Minion Girl won the trial rating 1:58.3 while Mighty Montana was personally timed in 2:00.4. Mighty Montana, a bay gelding from the Bettor's Delight mare Precious Montana is bred and raced by Dean Shannon, the owner of Lanercost. And just like Lanercost, Mighty Montana is prepared by leading horseman Darrel Graham. “This guy has been a sensible type from the day he entered my stables, he’s a good size and he moves particularly well. Adam (Sanderson – driver) said he was really happy with his trial, he was easy to drive and wanted to be out there and competing.” Graham said. Lanercost, a striking son of Courage Under Fire is standing again this season at famed Queensland nursery, Burwood Stud at Pittsworth on the Darling Downs. The early reports on his progeny have been very pleasing while his current foals are correct and intelligent individuals. “He’s leaving really nice types, both colts and fillies and the owners are really happy so that’s a good start for his siring career. As we know, he was a brilliant racehorse and he’s got a great pedigree being a son of the mighty Courage Under Fire.” Burwood Studmaster Noel Denning said. “I’m not surprised that he’s got a qualifier already, he was a natural two-year-old himself and his pedigree suggests that they should go early. He’s a Direct Scooter line stallion and they should all have the speed factor about them.” Denning added. Several leading stables inspected and bought his progeny at the Queensland sales last year, both the Australian Pacing Gold and Redcliffe Yearling Sales. Expect to see plenty more of the Lanercost progeny stepping out in the New Year. Lanercost stands at a fee of $1650 (GST inclusive). Also standing at Burwood is perennial performer Cammibest ($1200 – GST inclusive) and trotting stallion Brylin Boyz ($1650 – GST inclusive). by Chris Barsby

Wheels are in motion for classy pacer Maestro Bellini. The striking harness racing three-year-old stepped out for the first time this season at the Albion Park trial session yesterday (Tuesday) in preparation for a busy season ahead. Prepared by Chris Petroff, Maestro Bellini has not raced since finishing third behind Changeoverme and Rock With Sam in the Gr.1 $100,000 QBRED Triad Final on July 16 as a short priced favourite. The Bettor's Delight – Santuzza colt was given an easy time in the trial where he was opposing open class rivals. Sitting back at the rear of the field, Maestro Bellini finished some 8.5m from eventual winner Mattgregor in a time of 1:54.5. “I was really happy with the effort but it was unfortunate that we had to take on that class of horse, this was his first run in five months and I was determined to give him an easy trial as possible. He did everything that was asked of him.” Petroff said. Connections are looking at the Gr.1 $200,000 Victoria Derby series at Melton starting next month while a host of features have also been earmarked. During his rookie term, Maestro Bellini won 4 of his 11 starts including the Paleface Adios Classic and the QBRED Breeders Classic; both features were staged at Albion Park. He banked more than $80,000 while taking a mark of 1:55.0. “He did a good job last season, he went to Bathurst for the Gold Crown and then to Melbourne for the APG (Australian Pacing Gold) while taking on the local features. He probably should’ve won the Triad but the conditions that night were shocking, He wasn’t comfortable on that surface. “He’s definitely come back in good shape; he’s bigger and thicker this time around. I’m planning on giving him another trial next week before looking at a race and then all going to plan, we’ll head to Melbourne. “His next trial will tighten him even further and then he’ll be ready to go, I’ve been really happy with his work since returning from the break and I’m hopeful he’ll have a good campaign. Most of his features come south of the border so it will be a long season for him.” Bred and raced by Alf La Spina and his family, they are fully aware of the challenge in front of them but are keen to win the country’s most revered classic. Back in 2013, they came close when Caesar Augustus ran a courageous third behind Ohoka Punter and Guaranteed while beating home the likes of Bit Of A Legend, Lennytheshark and Arden Rooney among others. by Chris Barsby

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