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The 2016 Racing Queensland UBET winter carnival is fast approaching and in the coming weeks, Queensland harness racing broadcaster Chris Barsby will profile a number of major players vying for the top prizes. With 18 Black Type races on the program for the 2016 Winter Carnival, the carnival’s pinnacle in 2016 is the G1 Blacks A Fake, which now boasts an impressive $200,000 in stakes. The carnival spans from May 28 to July 30. Here’s a profile featuring a likely New Zealand filly that looks certain to be a major player in the Queensland Oaks. Name: Nek Time Stable Name: Laura Age: 3yo filly Owner: Robert & Sharon Symon Trainer: Terry & Glenys Chmiel Driver: Dexter Dunn Prizemoney: $93,989 Biggest win: Gr.3 Southland Oaks - Invercargill Target: $75,000 Queensland Oaks (July 9) Trainer says: “Lovely filly with plenty of quality; loves following a genuine speed and then producing her sprint which is extremely good at the end of her races. She’s been a delight since joining our stable and her winning effort in the Southland Oaks was very impressive and the time was super. We’ll tackle the Jewels and then head over and get ready for the Queensland Oaks.” Barsby says: “A high quality filly that looks certain to be a major threat in the filly’s features during the carnival. The Southland Oaks triumph was stunning and the time underlines the effort, her sectionals always seem to be very impressive. Remember, this filly has beaten some very highly regarded types this season and should add plenty in the Oaks puzzle.” Chris Barsby

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

Fight For Glory might not be a harness racing superstar in New Zealand where she has been overshadowed all season by The Orange Agent but once she crosses the Tasman sea, the Art Major filly is the real deal. That is not to say she is not held in high regard in the shakey isles but in Australia she sits on top of the pedestal all on her own. Even though she drew the second line tonight in the $100,000 Group 1 Queensland Oaks at Albion Park, Natalie Rasmussen and Fight For Glory was still the favourite just in front of her stablemate Linda Lovegrace. Miss Riviera Belle burned the gate from barrier seven to grab an early lead with Linda Lovegrace in the death seat with Fight For Glory in the one by one early. However after 300 metres Champagne Dreams who was in the trail galloped and caused Fight For Glory to be restrained which let Bettor Promise slip into the one by one forcing Fight For Glory three back in the running line. Surprisingly, soon after Peter McMullen angled Bettor Promise out of the one by one and tried to go forward but Shane Graham kicked up on Linda Lovegrace, leaving Bettor Promise three wide for the rest of the race. Thus Fight For Glory was back in the one by one and as soon as she got clear air at the 400 metres mark, she quickly grabbed the lead and was too strong in the straight. Morton Plains, the stablemate of Menin Gate flew late for second just in front of an equally game Ameretto who flashed late for an unlucky third. Tonights win was the fourth Oaks success for Fight For Glory this season which is a good indication of her class. Fight For Glory paced the 2138 metres in 2:34.4, a mile rate of 1:56.2 with closing sectionals of 56.1 and 27.8 Natalie was all smiles post race. " Once she got into the one by one, I was really confident a long way out that she would win the race." " She is such an honest filly and she can really let down when she gets a bit of cover." " The owners from New Zealand all made the trip over so I am so pleased she got the job done for them," Natalie said One of those owners in attendance is the former outstanding New Zealand thoroughbred trainer Jimmy Gibbs. " It is always great to win a Group 1 in either code." " I am just very fortunate to have Mark and Natalie train my horses for me," Jimmy said. Fight For Glory may have to play second fiddle to The Orange Agent in New Zealand but in Australia she is the queen of the three year old fillies. Harnesslink Media  

Bathurst raider Amaretto will need to make her own luck to win the Gr.1 $100,000 Greg & Sharon Mitchell Queensland Oaks at the harness racing meeting at Albion Park on Saturday night. But this is nothing new for the Ashlee Siejka trainee. The Million Dollar Cam – Eyes Of Courage three-year-old filly has been plagued by constant bad luck and shocking draws throughout her career. The run of poor draws continues this weekend after being slammed with gate twelve, five off the second-line. Yet Siejka remains upbeat. “This is familiar territory we find ourselves in because this has been an issue with her right throughout her career to date." "We did draw well in the Breeders Challenge but we had Greg Hayes to thank for that after selecting our barrier for that final, but in the end, she made an error and cost herself victory but I still believe that was her best effort during her career to date.” Siejka said. Amaretto finished second to highly regarded New Zealand filly Supersonic Miss at TABCORP Park, Menangle on June 28 at her most recent start. An error soon after the start proved costly as the filly settled closer to last than first before charging home and running a gallant second. A key trial at Albion Park on Tuesday afternoon underlined the faith that Siejka has in her filly. “I was thrilled with her trial earlier this week and she felt fantastic because I thought she was a little on the big side following a couple easy days after her last start followed by the travel to get here." "I thought she jogged it and her times were really sharp so I couldn’t be happier." “Obviously the draw is a setback because we’re now relying on a solid speed but this field boasts great depth and I think we’ll be running which will suit my filly." "The likes of the Purdon/Rasmussen fillies plus Morton Plains and the Shannon Price fillies will be very tough to beat." “I would love to win a major race with this filly because she’s been so consistent throughout her career; she tries so hard and never gives up so I’m hoping this might be our time to shine.” Siejka has an excellent chance in the $20,000 Lunchbox Lodge Country Cup Final with former New Zealand gelding Our Leonardo. The lightly raced four-year-old ran a cracking race in his Australian debut when going down narrowly in the heat eight days ago. “I’m still working him out but I like what I have and he’ll improve greatly off his effort in the heat last week. He showed good gate speed and the barrier is a massive advantage this week." “I expect to lead and he’ll prove hard to catch, I’m likely to make some gear changes and open him up because once that horse went past him last week, he actually kicked on again but it was too late.” The richly talented horseperson is also represented by talented pacers Lochinver in the Gr.2 $50,000 Gurney Group of Companies 4 & 5yo Championship and Mister Chow in the Brylin Boyz Q0 Pace while My Lucky Belle is listed as the emergency runner in the Queensland Oaks. Chris Barsby

During the past decade, only two local harness racing fillies have repelled the raiders to claim the Queensland Oaks. And they weren’t just any fillies. Outstanding mare Forever Gold was the most recent following her triumph in 2011 while All Promises scored back in 2007, one of three Oaks titles she claimed that season. All Promises was prepared by husband and wife team of Shannon Price and Scott Miller. This year, the astute couple have a dual-pronged attack heading into the Gr.1 $100,000 Greg & Sharon Mitchell Queensland Oaks at Albion Park on Saturday night. Bettor Promise and Bettorthanspecial will sport the black and red livery. And both fillies boast excellent claims. “We’re hopeful that both fillies will perform at their high level again this weekend; this has obviously been a major target all season long and they’re fit and in-form so we’ve got a chance." "Their preparation has been really solid so we can’t make any excuses for either of them prior to Saturday night, they’re ready to go.” Co-trainer Miller said. The two fillies fought out the finish of the $20,000 Rising Stars Championship Final last weekend with Bettorthanspecial edging out Bettor Promise in a mile rate of 1;54.3 for the 1660m event. It was the seventh time the two fillies have finished one/two under race conditions. “We were thrilled with the way both fillies performed last week and both have come through that race in very good shape, it just topped them off for the Oaks this weekend so it’s all systems go." "We’ve got handy front-line draws and both should find spots fairly quickly." “It’s a very strong field headed up by the two New Zealand fillies, they’ve looked very good in their Brisbane starts to date and loom as the hardest to beat." "I’m expecting a genuine speed and that should suit both of our fillies, their efforts in the Gold Coast Oaks recently proved we’re close to them." “Bettor Promise is a good staying type of filly while Bettorthanspecial is a very capable sit/sprint type, they both have strong records and the distance is ideal for both." "Like most, we just need that little bit of luck going our way but I think they’re both good enough to take it.” Win, lose or draw this weekend, both fillies are expected to tackle the Gr.3 $30,000 Redcliffe Oaks on August 1 before heading to well-earned break. Both fillies have won seven races this season including several features. Bettor Promise claimed the Gr.1 $100,000 QBRED Triad Final on May 30 at Albion Park defeating her stablemate. Hoofnote; All Promises, a winner of the Queensland, Redcliffe and Australian Oaks is the older half-sister to Bettor Promise. Chris Barsby

Champion harness racing horseman Luke McCarthy is heading home. A notable absentee from the opening night of the 2015 Queensland winter carnival at Albion Park last weekend owing to Vicbred commitments at Melton, McCarthy is now firmly focused on his team that is based in the warm sunshine. McCarthy is booked for 8 drives on the 10 race program. “I can’t wait to get amongst the action this weekend, I love coming home to Brisbane and the winter carnival is something that I look forward to each and every year. Fortunately, the stable has quite a few up and going and it’s a pleasure to compete in these races in the next couple of weeks.” McCarthy said. The feature event on Saturday night is the Gr.1 Greg & Sharon Mitchell Queensland Oaks for the three-year-old fillies and McCarthy is looking at back to back victories following his success last year aboard Nike Franco. McCarthy will take the lines behind emerging talent Whitershadeofpale who is prepared by his wife Belinda; a filly co-owned by Victorian based Harvey Kaplan. Coincidentally, Kaplan shared in the ownership spoils of Nike Franco last year also. “This filly continues to improve and we think a bit of her although she’s lightly raced, the decision to send her to Brisbane for this campaign has proven to be a wise one and hopefully she’ll continue with her good form. “It’s a nasty draw and this Oaks boasts great depth so her job won’t be easy but I’m thrilled with her current form; she should’ve finished closer in the Gold Coast Oaks two starts ago before she got a confidence building victory last week, she’s still on the way up. “The two New Zealand fillies are the toughest to beat, Linda Lovegrace and Fight For Glory are both in excellent shape and loom as the obvious threats. We had Fight For Glory stay at our place earlier this year when she contested the NSW Oaks and she’s a real competitor, a great will to win.” While the fillies officially take centre stage this weekend, all eyes are expected to be fixed on brilliant pacer Bling It On who will start as a pronounced favourite in the Gr.2 $50,000 Gurney Group of Companies 4 & 5yo Championship. The American Ideal entire is unbeaten in two starts this campaign and he oozed class with his emphatic victory last weekend. “We’re thrilled with the way Yank (Bling It On) has returned following a freshen-up after his Chariots campaign earlier this year. He’s never really had a decent break since he started as a two-year-old but he’s thrived and it’s been really beneficial to him. “He felt unbelievable winning first-up when I took the drive and Toddy (McCarthy – driver) gave a glowing report after his effort last week. His work this week has been really sharp so we’re confident of another great showing. “The draw is perfect; we don’t have to burn early yet we can still hold a forward spot while the pressure is being applied. It’s a good field and they will run it hard but that will suit us, we will back-up next week in the 4yo Championship.” Bling It On has won 9 of his 10 starts at Albion Park while his only defeat came via a two horse Australasian Breeders Crown heat last season. McCarthy has won the 4 & 5yo Championship on two previous occasions, the most recent in 2011 aboard Lightning Raider while Slipnslide scored back in 2005. Other key drives for McCarthy this weekend include For A Reason, Epaulette and the Blake Hewitt trained duo of Sweet Molly OShea and Spare Me Days. by Chris Barsby Related Links Fields for Albion Park, Saturday 11 July 2015 Form guide for Albion Park, Saturday 11 July 2015

Last Saturday night was one of those rarest of nights when the All Star barn failed to land a big big on the opening night of the Queensland Winter carnival. Natalie reckons the team reacted well to a minimum of luck on the first big night of the Queensland carnival and that they all came through their races in top order. This is how she rated the runs from the team on Saturday night. Smolda (2nd ) "I was really thrilled with him." "In fact I would stay he probably went the best of the lot of them." "Going well and just couldn't beat that inside speed on the night" Fight for Glory (2nd) "Considering she was against older horses and it was a tune up race for her she was fine." "She will like going over a bit further now" Hug The Wind (2nd) "Look if I was really honest he was one who just disappointed a shade." "I thought he was entitled to kick on a wee bit better." "But he is another one who will go better next time over a bit more ground." "Those short races and bad draws are not ideal" Gentle Western   "Considering the work he had missed and his overall programme I thought he went really well." "He should be a strong contender in the Final" This weeks runners *Queensland Oaks (Fight for Glory and Linda Lovegrace) *Gold Coast Derby (Hug The Wind) *Country Cups Final (Gentle Western) Courtesy of All Stars Racing Stables - Check site here

Victorian raiders are heading north in force. Last weekend, Burnaholeinmypocket scorched the harness racing Albion Park oval winning the $100,000 Nursery Flying Stakes and now fellow state mates are following suite and heading up chasing the lucrative prizemoney and warm winter sunshine. Shelbourne trainer Larry Eastman, fresh from his triple Group 1 glory on Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Melton with Menin Gate, Morton Plains and Milly Perez are headed to Queensland this week. Both Menin Gate and Morton Plains will fly to Brisbane on Wednesday. Targets for the star pair include this weekend’s Gr.1 $100,000 Greg & Sharon Mitchell Queensland Oaks with Morton Plains while the main focus for Menin Gate will be the Gr.1 $150,000 Queensland Derby on July 18. “All the horses have come through the weekend in great shape and we’re keen to head up there again and take in some of the winter carnival features. Lynette (wife) and I have some great friends in Queensland and we love the racing and in particular, the weather.” Eastman said. The Queensland Oaks will boast an outstanding field with a bunch of outstanding fillies already in town and the presence of Morton Plains only adds further intrigue. The Bettor's Delight – Don’t Answer That filly scored a decisive victory in the Vicbred Super Series Final last weekend defeating Niki No No and Vapar Grin in the 2240m feature. “She’s a lovely filly that is honest and continues to improve; the Queensland Oaks comes at the right time because she’s fit and in-form so it’s worth taking a shot, “Obviously the Purdon/Rasmussen fillies (Fight For Glory & Linda Lovegrace) will be tough to beat but I’m more than happy with my filly and an Oaks victory would be a nice bonus.” The victory of Menin Gate in his Vicbred Super Series Final provided his connections with his second major this season after winning the Victoria Derby back in February. The Somebeachsomewhere – Dreams Of Heaven gelding led throughout to win the 2240m feature defeating Mister Wickham and Follow The Stars. “I was really happy with him leading into that race because he trialed well at Maryborough the week before and Chris (Alford – driver) said he felt great in that trial. We added the block blinkers to his gear and it worked a treat, “The Queensland Derby has always been a target for him this season but I wanted to get through this series first before committing; now it’s full steam ahead.” Champion reinsman Chris Alford will take the drives in Brisbane. Chris Barsby

Classy harness racing three-year-old filly Delightful Lana is heading to Brisbane. But a decision is yet to be made on when. The Peter Walsh trained filly scored a dominant victory at Tabcorp Park Menangle yesterday in 1;54.5 but connections will deliberate in the coming days on whether to head north as early as next week for the Gr.3 $30,000 Gold Coast Oaks at Albion Park on June 20 or wait for the Gr.1 $100,000 Queensland Oaks on July 11. Resuming since April when down the line in the Victoria Oaks at Melton, Delightful Lana was taken off the gate early by reinsman Chris Geary before working into one out/one back trail, when called on at the top of the straight, the filly knuckled down strongly. “We’re still discussing whether we should tackle both or just wait for the main goal and that decision will be made in the coming days. This filly is very classy and an Oaks victory would be very rewarding so the Brisbane campaign is very important.” Walsh said. Originally prepared by New Zealand based horseman Cran Dalgety, the Bettor's Delight filly was transferred to the care of Walsh to target remaining features in Australia this season. Delightful Lana has proven victorious in heats of both the New South Wales and Victoria Oaks series but is yet to crack it in a major this season. Enter Brisbane. “In a perfect world I would like to tackle both races but there is a fair bit to weigh up and then organise, I’ve recently had back surgery so having the right people in place is important. This filly loves racing and tackling both events won’t bother her. “I was very happy with the effort yesterday because she hadn’t trialed owing to cancellations and I don’t like starting horses without the benefit of a trial. Her time was good and she finished off in 27 seconds at the backend which was pleasing; she went home and licked the bin clean. “Obviously there will be some smart fillies chasing the prize up in Brisbane but this filly will be right in the mix, she’s got all the right qualities in a top filly. She got very sick mid-year and has bounced back in great style.” No decision has been made on who will drive the filly in Brisbane and champion New Zealand reinsman Dexter Dunn is being strongly considered depending on his schedule and availability. Walsh is no stranger to success in the Queensland Oaks having prepared Madam Steward who took out the 1995 version when handled by Darrel Graham. by Chris Barsby

Over the next month when you punt on the harness racing girls in pink pants at Albion Park and Redcliffe you will be helping to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer. Queensland’s female drivers will be wearing pink pants each time they race, in support of the breast cancer.  Queensland’s Breeders, Owners, Trainers and Reinspersons Association (BOTRA) and Racing Queensland team up with the Albion Park Harness Racing Club and Redcliffe Harness Racing Club to proudly support fundraising. The lives of many in our community have been affected by breast cancer and 100% of funds raised at Albion Park and Redcliffe tracks between 13 June and 11 July will be donated to National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) for their ongoing mission to research prevention and a cure. Racing Queensland has kick started the fund raising and will donate $200 to the NBCF each time a driver wearing the pink pants wins a race during the four-week period. The fund raising activities will culminate at the G1 $100,000 Queensland Oaks race meeting at Albion Park on Saturday 11 July. This race meeting also features a Drivers Invitation race; G2 $50,000 4&5 Year-Old Championship; G3 $30,000 Fleur De Lil Ladyship Stakes; G3 $40,000 Gold Coast Derby; $20,000 Country Cup and $20,000 Seymour Rising Stars Championship Final. Marg Reynolds from BOTRA said harness racing fans can help by making do0nations via the fund raising page. “I urge everyone to get right behind this promotion and support the girls wearing pink pants in all the races and they can also contribute in a few other ways on and off the track,” Reynolds said. How can you help? Donate via our fundraising page here.  Post a message of support of the Pinks Pants promotion and the 12 drivers via your social networks Head to Albion Park or Redcliffe June 13 – 11 July to cheers on the “girls in pink” Join us on Saturday night at Albion Park for harness racing’s Queensland Oaks night – make it a girl’s night out and dress in pink to celebrate women in our sport and support us at the presentation of funds raised during the campaign for NBCF. by David Aldred

D-day has arrived for Team Raboki. Harness racing co-trainers Shannon Price and Scott Miller venture to Albion Park this Saturday with a dual-pronged attack on the Gr.1 $100,000 QBRED Triad 3yo Fillies Final. Bettor Promise and Bettorthanspecial will both sport the familiar black and red silks in what shapes as the season long target. While most expected the classy Bettor's Delight fillies to dominate features this term, they’re both winless to date after coming up short in the QBRED Breeders Classic and the recent Nursery Pace series. “We’ve been close but close enough unfortunately but I’m hopeful we can turn that around this weekend. This has been the main target for the season because of the prizemoney plus we’re opposed to local talent without taking on all comers.” Price said. The chances of landing the major prize this weekend took a massive hit when both fillies landed front-line draws and Price is keen to see both fillies up on the pace. Bettor Promise will start from gate four while Bettorthanspecial will start from gate six. “With both fillies drawing well, it takes all guesswork out of the equation and the instructions will be simple and I’m expecting both will very close to lead and trying to control it as soon as possible. We have to make full use of these good draws so we’ll be going forward. “In many ways the season to date has been a little frustrating starting with the setback which forced us out of the NSW Oaks while we were on the back foot entering the Breeders Classic series and then we came up short in the Nursery Pace. We can’t worry about what we’ve missed but we can control what’s in front of us this weekend and that’s the sole focus. “Both fillies have trained well this week and everything seems in order, they’re blood reports came back reading well so they’re healthy and happy. It would be great to land a perfect result again like last season when Bettorthanspecial held off Bettor Promise; hopefully this will be a springboard into the winter carnival features like the Queensland Oaks in July.” Last season, Bettorthanspecial beat Bettor Promise by a half head margin in the 2yo QBRED Triad Final. Team Raboki are no strangers to success in the Queensland Oaks either after landing the prize back in 2006 with All Promises. by Chris Barsby Related Links Fields for Albion Park, Saturday 30 May 2015 Form guide for Albion Park, Saturday 30 May 2015

Queensland warrior Destreos is hoping for a change of luck. The Ken Rattray trained veteran gelding lines up in his fifth Redcliffe Cup this Saturday night at the bayside club and victory is proving to be quite elusive. But this could be the year. The Gr.3 $40,000 Moreton Bay Regional Council Redcliffe Gold Cup has drawn together a very strong field highlighted by a huge representation from the leading stables of Grant Dixon who has five entrants including last year’s winner Only The Brave. While club officials were hopeful of attracting champion pacer Im Themightyquinn who swept all before him recently at Albion Park, a competitive field has been assembled. Destreos returns from a successful three start Sydney campaign and heads to Redcliffe in great form leaving connections hopeful of forward showing. The best result for Destreos so far was back in 2010 when a runner-up behind Nickys Falcon. “He’s returned from his Sydney trip in very good order and knowing that Im Themightyquinn and Avonnova are not starting gives me plenty of confidence. We’ll still need plenty of luck but you can’t knock his recent form, I thought he performed really well in all of his starts in Sydney including his latest effort behind Freyberg and Smoken Up in 1;51.7.” Rattray said. Destreos starts from a 10m handicap and will follow out last start winner and in-form pacer Majestic Major. Regular pilot Kelli Dawson will reunite with the Astreos gelding. “In recent times I’ve tried to restrict his racing to mile events but he’s performing really well currently and I thought he deserved his chance in this race again. We’ve been close on a few occasions in the past including his narrow second to Nickys Falcon so hopefully we can win it this time around. “He’s got a good record at Redcliffe and he’s never had any issues with the track despite boasting a great record at Albion Park. If we get a good trip from the draw, I think he’ll be right in this finish. “His last start sixth in Sydney was very good because we got left without cover and he was still in the mix until the final 75m and the time was very good on a cool night. We went to Sydney to avoid the winter carnival stars but still ran into the likes of Smoken Up and a few others.” Rattray was quick to highlight star mare Forever Gold as one of the hardest to beat despite the fact she must overcome a 20m back mark handicap. The Darren Weeks/Kylie Rasmussen prepared mare caught the eye last start when running on strongly behind Im Themightyquinn in the Gr.1 $100,000 Blacks A Fake at Albion Park on July 19. “That mare went super last start at Albion Park and I’m sure she will prove very hard to beat, she’s such a professional and she always rises to the challenge. “It’s a very even field and most could win it with even luck, this is a race that can throw up a roughie.” The $20,000 Redcliffe Oaks is the other feature on the program and a strong field has also been gathered. Last start Queensland Oaks placegetters Charming Allie and Beef City Safari must overcome second-line draws while speedy fillies Heavenly Cullen and Morethanmeetstheye have drawn ideally. The first of nine races is scheduled to start at 5.35pm. By Chris Barsby (Harness Racing Australia)

The Queensland winter carnival continued tonight at Albion Park and star filly Nike Franco made a one-act affair of the feature, the Gr.1 $75,000 Queensland Oaks. In fact, it was one of the easiest victories in a major event seen at Albion Park for some time. Starting as a short priced favourite, Nike Franco was given plenty of time to balance early before driver Luke McCarthy made his move heading down the back straight on the first occasion. Working to the lead at the 1200m marker, Nike Franco quickly turned the race into a procession. The Belinda McCarthy trained filly scored comfortably by 15m from Charming Allie and Beef City Safari in a time of 1;56.4 for the 2138m event. Nike Franco ran her final half in 56.3 seconds. “She is a high quality filly with strength and a great cruising speed; she travelled very well tonight and gave me a real armchair drive. Both Belinda and I have to make special mention of Dean Braun who prepared the filly before we took her over, she was in great shape.” Winning reinsman Luke McCarthy said. Connections now have the option of lining up against the boys next week in the Gr.1 $100,000 Queensland Derby. Nike Franco Nike Franco wasn’t the only feature race winner for Team McCarthy with the stable also scoring in the Gr.3 $45,000 Knudsens Betta Home Living 4 & 5yo Championship with speedster Chilli Palmer and the Gr.3 $30,000 TattsBet Gold Coast Derby with star colt Bling It On. Chilli Palmer, renowned for his devastating sprint, unleashed his power over the concluding which came off a genuine tempo to score comfortably defeating Terror Time and Majestic Mach. The milerate was 1;54.4 for the 2138m event. The Elsu gelding was only having his second start for the stable following his scratching last week from the Sunshine Sprint. Connections have the option of starting in either the Gr.1 $100,000 TattsBet Blacks A Fake or the Gr.3 $45,000 4yo Championship next week. Chilli Palmer Brilliant colt Bling It On scored a narrow yet decisive victory in the Gold Coast Derby tonight, clearly proving he is the horse to beat in next week’s blue riband classic. Sitting back in the field, the American Ideal colt sustained a strong sprint from the 600m marker to hold off Alleluia and Major Sam in a time of 1;56.2 for the 2138m event. Bling It On remains unbeaten in Queensland after eight starts. Leading breeder/owner Harvey Kaplan shares in the ownership of both Bling It On and Nike Franco. Bling It On Star Queensland mare Forever Gold proved she was on target for next week’s Gr.1 $100,000 TattsBet Blacks A Fake following her dominant victory in the Gr.3 $30,000 Southern Queensland Plumbing Fleur De Lil Ladyship Stakes. Sent to the lead soon after the start by driver Kylie Rasmussen, Forever Gold cruised to an easy victory defeating Missing Letters and Gliding Rose in a time of 1;55.6 for the 2138m event. Forever Gold has now won this event for three straight years. Forever Gold The $20,000 Lunchbox Lodge Country Cup Final was taken out by classy pacer Beetson who led throughout in the 2138m feature defeating Glenferrie Hood and Karloo Kix in a time of 1;56.6. Recently transferred to the stables of Shannon Price, the multiple feature race winner made a clean sweep of the series after scoring arrogantly in the heat last week. And former track record holder Suave Stuey Lombo exacted revenge on new track record holder Im Themightyquinn when successful in the Centenary Classic Mercedes Benz Open Pace. Finding the lead, Suave Stuey Lombo was brilliantly rated in front by Lauren Panella and defied Im Themightyquinn over the concluding stages after staging a great war over the final lap. The 2138m event was covered in a time of 1;54.7 with the final half paced in 56.1 seconds. Both pacers will back-up next week. Next week, the features include the Gr.1 $100,000 TattsBet Blacks A Fake, the Gr.1 $100,000 SKY Racing Queensland Derby, the Gr.2 $80,000 Kevin & Kay Seymour QBRED Triad 2yo Finals and the Gr.3 $45,000 Gurney Group of Companies 4yo Championship. The mighty Queensland champion Blacks A Fake will also be trackside to parade before fans next week. And don’t forget about the opportunity to win 10% ownership of either Im Themightyquinn or Bling It On for the night next week, for further details check out the website – By Chris Barsby (Harness Racing Australia)

Harness racing trainer Greg Franklin prepares a big team of two. Just two pacers. And both will start this Saturday night at Albion Park, his first runner Beef City Safari will contest the Gr.1 $75,000 Queensland Oaks while his other runner Rakarebel will tackle champion pacer Im Themightyquinn for the second straight week. The popular figure prepares his pair of pacers at the Redcliffe Paceway, where Franklin is the track manager. “I’ve only got time for the two horses between my other commitments at the track but I’m lucky to have two handy types. The filly has been a strong improver all season long while Rakarebel keeps proving he’s got a real zest for racing.” Franklin said. The arrival of Beef City Safari into Franklin’s care came out of the blue following a missed call at Redcliffe on a racenight when Franklin was driving the water cart. Bernie and Carmel Clifton from Rockhampton left a message for Franklin and after making the return phone call, the filly was on her way to his stables. With four wins and nine placings from 21 career starts, Beef City Safari aims up for her shot at Group 1 glory when she locks horns with some of the best fillies in the country this weekend. “I’ve always liked this filly and I think she’s a good little stayer, she enjoys the races when the speed is on and I’m sure these fillies will be running from the start this weekend. Obviously Nike Franco is very talented but we’ll give it our best shot. “She’s trained on really well since her last and keeping her fresh in between runs has agreed with her. It was a very good effort in the Triad Final while her effort in the Gold Coast Oaks was also very strong. “We’re drawn directly alongside Nike Franco and I think Mathew (Neilson – driver) will give her a good run from there. I think she will perform well again and then we will look at the Redcliffe Oaks with her in a couple of weeks.” While Beef City Safari faces a big challenge getting over the top of Nike Franco, spare a thought for Rakarebel.   The well-travelled veteran was a former stablemate of Im Themightyquinn when previously prepared by Gary Hall before popping in and out of many stables since those glory days in Perth where he strung together eight straight victories at Gloucester Park. Last week, Rakarebel ran a cracking fourth in the Sunshine Sprint behind Im Themightyquinn in track record time after starting from a shocking second-line draw. “Everybody keeps telling me he’s past it but his form suggests otherwise, I know he still hasn’t won for me yet but his last couple of starts have been great in super time. “If he puts in another forward showing on Saturday night, he’ll back-up in the Blacks A Fake before we head to the Redcliffe Cup. He’s healthy and happy so we’ll keep chipping away with him." by Chris Barsby Queensland Harness Racing

Star Queensland mare Forever Gold is ready for a racetrack return. And the classy harness racing mare warmed up nicely for the Gr.3 $30,000 Southern Queensland Plumbing Fleur De Lil Ladyship Stakes with a stunning trial earlier this week. On Monday afternoon, Forever Gold was allowed to stretch out in the 1660m trial at Albion Park with a powerful front-running display in a mile rate of 1;53.7 scoring by close to 40m from Queensland Oaks bound filly Milly Perez. The Famous Forever mare has not started since disappointing in the Gr.1 $100,000 Queen of the Pacific at TABCORP Park, Melton on May 23 when ninth behind pocket-rocket mare Gumdrops. “I think she’s happy to be home and her trials (3 in total) since returning have been very pleasing, she’s ready to go on Saturday night and the race looks perfect to restart her campaign again. I think she got away on us a little and that probably best explains the uncharacteristic effort last start.” Trainer Darren Weeks said. Connections deliberately bypassed last week’s Sunshine Sprint preferring to concentrate on the mare’s only feature before graduating to the Gr.1 $100,000 TattsBet Blacks A Fake next week. The Gr.3 $40,000 Redcliffe Gold Cup on August 2 is also distinct possibility before another short let-up. “I’m sure we pulled the right rein skipping the Sunshine Sprint last week; she wasn’t ready to chase Im Themightyquinn in a track record time and her trial earlier this week just topped her off nicely. It was always our plan to go into the mare’s feature first-up followed by the Blacks A Fake. “This race looks ideal for her and the barrier draw looks very kind on paper so we should be able to control the race pretty quickly. Obviously she’s the class runner and looks very well graded against her own sex so she’ll prove tough to beat. “We’ll step her up against Im Themightyquinn and company next week because the staying distance will give her good opportunity to race well. Quinny is a champion horse and he proved that last week but we’ll give it our best shot.” Forever Gold is looking to repeat in the Fleur De Lil after staging a terrific battle with Torque In Motion last season in a time of 1;52.8 for the 1660m.. This year, the race will be staged over 2138m. Connections intend on campaigning again next season with the rising seven-year-old and the spring features in October loom as logical targets. “The big races later this year certainly make strong appeal and we intend on heading in that direction all going to plan, she thrives on racing.” Forever Gold is the winner of 35 races from 65 career starts while amassing more than $550,000 in prizemoney. by Chris Barsby Queensland Harness Racing

It’s time for talented filly Freedom Is to shine. The regally bred harness racing three-year-old filly has landed the coveted inside gate in Saturday night’s Gr.1 $75,000 Queensland Oaks at Albion Park. And owner/trainer Phillip Thurston couldn’t be happier. “We needed a good draw and we got it; the filly is racing in excellent form and should acquit herself well but Nike Franco is obviously going to be very hard to beat.” Thurston said. Freedom Is heads into the Oaks feature brimming with confidence following her gritty performance when successful in the Seymour Rising Stars Championship Final at Albion Park in a career best time of 1;55.9. That victory proved to be her first on Queensland soil despite boasting several feature race placing’s. The Courage Under Fire – Alegria filly has always found herself as the bridesmaid and never the bride after placing’s in the Nursery Pace Finals as a two-year-old while placed again this season plus being placed in the Gold Coast Oaks. “This filly is consistent and she tries very hard but often we’ve found one a little better on the night but we get a perfect opportunity to make our own luck from this draw, I was thrilled with drawing the inside gate because she has very good gate speed. “Winning last week provides a perfect platform going into this race; this has been a target all season long and head into the race with confidence. It was great that she fought like she did last week because she was headed in the straight but kicked strongly and that’s important going into an Oaks feature. “This little filly tries very hard and she deserves a big race success so let’s just hope it’s our turn this weekend. She has trained on very well this week and continues to thrive here in the warmer sunshine plus Brad (Cowen – driver) is driving in very good form.” Future plans for Freedom Is remain unclear and a decision won’t be made until after the Queensland Oaks on whether she will chase the Australasian Breeders Crown series in Melbourne next month. Last season, Freedom Is qualified for the rich final and finished a career worst 8th behind Whereibylong. “I won’t make any firm plans until next week, the focus is clearly the Queensland Oaks and we’ll just get through that race first before locking down any plans. “We’ve got the option of starting her in a heat up here and we also have the Redcliffe Oaks as a target but the filly will decide which way we go. It’s been a long season already but it’s also been very rewarding.” And it could prove even more rewarding with a Queensland Oaks victory this weekend. by Chris Barsby Queensland Harness Racing

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