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Catch up on the week’s harness racing action in our weekly review, thanks to Darren Clayton. THE GOOD The Marburg Club, run by a dedicated group of volunteers, have put another successful Oakwood Capital Goldstrike Series into the history books following the running of the Final on Sunday. A race series that has gone from strength to strength, the dedication of all the committee and volunteers along with race sponsor and Marburg Pacing Association President Craig Whiteoak cannot be underestimated. First held in 2018, the fourth running of the series in 2021 saw arguably the strongest line-up of heats since the MPA dared to dream and held their first ever TAB-covered meeting. Modelled off the hugely popular Rocklea Pot of Gold, Whiteoak, through his company Oakwood Capital, have been the major backer of the Goldstrike since its inception. Heats are held with all horses starting from the front mark handicap before reverting to a set handicap dependent on their National Rating if progressing through to the Final. Monday, March 29 saw the four heats held, where the winners were Coppice, Its Mr Clooney, King Of Trumps and Gleneagle Warrior - the latter the most impressive of those saluting. On the track, the nine-race card attracted quality entries and the even and competitive racing was backed up by the wagering, with just one odds-on favourite for the day. Despite starting from the 20-metre impost for the Final, Gleneagle Warrior was too strong, backing up his heat victory with a near one-and-a-half-metre margin over Coppice. With nine races decided on Final day - Easter Sunday - the Marburg Club have always pitched the day as a Family Fun Day and this year’s event was no exception.   THE BAD The weather in South-East Queensland has not been the kindest in recent weeks and combined with uncertainty of COVID-19 lockdown impacts, it looked set to scuttle the hard work of the Marburg Pacing Association on Easter Sunday. With lockdown restrictions eased, heavy overnight rain on Saturday night and the forecast of further storm activity looked set to throw the Easter Sunday Eggstravaganza into disarray. However, there was a reprieve, and the racing was able to proceed with the off-track activities all going ahead except for the jumping castle and the giant slide. The weather Gods may not have had the biggest of smiles for the Marburg area, but that did not stop a healthy crowd turning up for the best bush atmosphere within an hour of Brisbane. Despite the inclement weather, there was still left plenty to see away from the main attraction of the horses. The dodgem cars proved a hit with young and old, and Jess Finocchio was the winner of the Fashions on the Field sponsored by Elly Rae Fashions. Plans for many of the mini-trotting community were also cast awry, with many competitors unable to attend the New South Wales Championships to be held at Tamworth. Again, the Marburg club stepped up, offering extra mini-trot races at short notice with six races held on the day. Full credit must also be bestowed upon track curator John Ballin who had the surface in pristine condition across both days of racing. Not only were some fast times recorded, including a new track record at Monday’s meeting, the surface played fair and was in great order despite the weather for Sunday’s meeting.   THE MILESTONE Multiple wins, maiden breaking wins and first Queensland wins were the order of the day at Marburg. Shane Graham stole the show driving a treble - his first ever at Marburg - including victory in the main race behind Gleneagle Warrior. The day started with a Graham win aboard the Mal Charlton-trained trotter Illawong Buzz, a horse that has proved to be a real handful in his career to date. Charlton is the sixth trainer to try his hand with the six-year-old, while Graham is the 11th driver to take the reins aboard the enigmatic gelding. Stepping out for his 23rd career start, a career that has been plagued by continual issues with his gait and manners, the son of Yankee Spider finally put it all together. Sent straight to the front, he was flawless and the winning margin of over 26-metres perhaps gives an insight into the frustrations that have come along the way. Gleneagle Warrior, trained by Vicki Rasmussen, was the second leg of the double for Graham, overcoming some traffic at the start and then being forced wider to avoid trouble at the 500-metre mark to claim the Goldstrike Final. The final leg of the double was with Golightly, again for Vicki Rasmussen, claiming the last race of the day with an impressive nine-metre victory. Taleah McMullen claimed a driving double with Melton Lucky for trainer and father John McMullen. The second winner was with a newcomer to Queensland - Barkway Arnold- trained by herself. The win of Barkway Arnold came at his first start since joining Taleah’s stable, the 10-time winner arriving from the New South Wales stable of Nathan Hoy. The husband-and-wife team of Ryan and Danielle Veivers rounded out the multiple wins, combining for wins with Makinmefeelgood and Artistic Saint. It was the second win at Marburg in two starts for Makinmefeelgood, the gelding also claiming victory at Monday’s fixture.   THE WILDCARD Gleneagle Warrior swept the Goldstrike series after wins in the heat and final, with each win coming in vastly different style. Stepping cleanly to lead Monday’s heat, driver Shane Graham had the four-year-old rolling in front and never looked in danger in claiming a near six-metre victory. The win set a new track record for the Marburg 2200-metre stand start, setting the benchmark at 2.00.4, rounded out by a sizzling closing 800-metre split. Running his third quarter in 27.4 seconds, the gelding closed out in 28.4 seconds, the 55.8 seconds last 800 metres the fastest ever seen at the Marburg track. His win in the Final came from the 20-metre handicap where he was forced to dodge some early traffic before then being made to evade a breaking runner in the final lap. Charging home wide off the track, Gleneagle Warrior arrived to claim a strong victory. A son of Shadyshark Hanover, Gleneagle Warrior is a graduate of the Redcliffe Yearling Sales, finishing runner-up in last season’s three-year-old Final behind Governor Jujon. A Group 1-winning trainer in his native New Zealand, Harris purchased Gleneagle Warrior for just $3,500 at the 2018 Redcliffe Sales, with the gelding now closing in on $50,000 in stakes following his Goldstrike victory. Harris was again active at last week’s Redcliffe Sales, going to $9,500 for a Changeover colt prepared and consigned by Burwood Stud. The colt is the last foal of Emma Montana, a five-time winner herself on the track. While Harris is an accomplished trainer in his own right, he has entrusted Vicki Rasmussen with his current star pupil on various occasions - a move that has proven successful. From 11 starts, Gleneagle Warrior has won six races for Rasmussen - the past three in succession -since re-joining her stables for his latest preparation.   THIS WEEK Following the changes over the past week due to the Easter scheduling, this week will see Friday racing return. In total, there will be six meetings held in Queensland for the week with Albion Park and Redcliffe each hosting three meetings. Tuesday afternoon, The Creek will hold one of the strongest meetings held mid-week for some time with the nine-race card full of talent and races that look even. The two-year-old event looks an intriguing contest with some eye-catchers out of the recent Changeover Classic engaged along with some that bring some smart trial form. That will complement the Friday night meeting and the Saturday metropolitan fixture on Saturday. Redcliffe has 10 races on the schedule for both their Wednesday and Thursday fixtures. The meeting originally programmed for Monday at The Triangle has been transferred to Sunday April 11, with all races carrying the QBRED cash bonus. Nominations and acceptances for the Sunday meeting close this Wednesday, April 7.   by Darren Clayton for Racing Queensland

Catch up on the week’s harness racing action in our weekly review, thanks to Darren Clayton. THE GOOD Jack Butler’s great start to the 2021 season took another step on Saturday night when claiming the first two-year-old feature for the year. The Changeover Classic was run and won in impressive fashion by the first starter, Dangerzone, a homebred gelding owned by Butler’s wife Tara and long-time client and friend Tim Malloy. Dangerzone is out of the former handy race mare Sheza Machstar, with that mare also trained by Butler when based in Bathurst. Sheza Machstar was no stranger to Albion Park however - being a QBRED - campaigning at two and three in Queensland when chasing Triad success. By Mach Three, Sheza Machstar retired a three-time winner at Albion Park and finished second in the 2009 Two-Year-Old Fillies Triad Final when narrowly beaten by Abbey Tiara. With a sharp trial in preparation for his first appearance at the races, Dangerzone was allowed plenty of time to settle from gate six, easing from the start to secure position. With the odds-on favourite I Am Sparta forced to work hard in the run as Gotta Go Milking speared out form gate seven to lead, Dangerzone had managed to find a great spot one out and one back. Running down the back straight, driver Brendan Barnes made his move, taking Dangerzone three-wide as I Am Sparta started to feel the pinch at the 400-metre mark. By the time the field had swung into the home stretch, Barnes had sent the gelding to the front and thereafter cruised home to claim an impressive victory with a winning margin of over 17 metres. Leap To Fame snuck through the centre to grab second, while Arnold Street - who was hampered by a tiring leader - was able to arrive for third place. Dangerzone was able to record a winning mile-rate of 1.56.1 in claiming the win. QBRED eligible, the son of Gotta Go Cullect also landed connections the QBRED first win bonus with the $12,000 added on top of the $12,700 winner’s prizemoney. The Breeders Classic and Triad are the obvious targets with Dangerzone, a gelding that looks set to have a bright future off the back of his impressive debut performance.   THE BAD Huge rainfalls along the eastern seaboard were the order of the last week, and Queensland was squarely in the firing line of the big wet. Numerous trainers have reported damage to their training tracks and stabling resulting from rising floodwaters throughout the south-east. Last Tuesday saw the rain have the most impact, with numerous scratchings from trainers and drivers becoming isolated in some areas. Amazingly, despite the sheer level of rainfall, there was not a single harness race meeting lost in the past week as a result of the devastating rain. Track staff at Albion Park and Redcliffe were kept busy through the week with preparing the racing surface, and to their credit, were able to produce tracks that held up to the rain and raced fairly throughout the week. In all, Albion Park was able to complete 24 races across their three meetings, along with 16 at Redcliffe across Wednesday and Thursday. Redcliffe still produced a sharp 1.56.5 mile-rate to Scarlet Babe, a time that was just two-tenths outside the mare’s track record. At Albion Park, there were a pair of pacers that were able to break 1.54.0 for the mile, with the wins occurring on Tuesday and Saturday, proving the consistency of the track’s performance. Both sizzling winners claimed new PB wins; The Harvey Bay ran a 1.53.4 mile when successful in the last race on Tuesday, while Our Madiba ran 1.53.2 when taking the second race on Saturday night. A tremendous effort all round to get through one of the wettest weeks on record without the loss of a single race.   THE MILESTONE Despite training a team of pacers and usually engaging another driver, trainer Greg Elkins has always taken the occasional drive when the need arises. This season, it has been the enigmatic Tearaway Diamond that Elkins has opted to partner regularly after the gelding started to have tractability issues midway through last season. The partnership has been ticking over nicely and on Friday, Tearaway Diamond was able to score a strong win when leading throughout over the Albion Park mile. Sent forward in the early stages from gate five, Elkins was content to press the issue and soon worked to the front. Dictating the pace, Tearaway Diamond was never in danger and went on to claim victory by over six metres, making it successive wins following his win earlier in the week at the Monday fixture. The win was the fourth success this season for the gelded son of Western Terror, with Greg in the sulky for all four victories. Since moving into the driver’s seat, the pair have developed quite the combination, with 18 starts together returning four wins and eight placings. The win broke new ground for Elkins, surpassing his total from the previous two seasons combined where he had driven a total of three winners. Developing a strong combination with owners Peter and Lesley Medhurst, Elkins has been able to put the polish on over 150 winners for the South Australian-based couple. With the top strike-rate from driving Tearaway Diamond, Greg Elkins might be tempted to take up a more permanent position as stable driver.   THE WILDCARD It was a bittersweet week for Jeroen Nieuwenberg. The week started with the huge rain event, with the volume of rainfall resulting in the training track at Nieuwenberg’s Tamborine property suffering immense damage. It was however able to end on a much brighter note - landing a two-state double as an owner thanks to wins with the trotters Great Fantasy and Arnold. Great Fantasy was the first to salute, with the newly arrived Kiwi import remaining undefeated after two starts in Queensland. Trained by Nathan Dawson, the seven-year-old son of Great Success backed up his win from the mobile with a win from the tapes under standing start conditions on Friday. Stepping cleanly to go straight to the front, Dawson never looked in danger despite a late dive from the runner-up Aladdin Sane to get within a metre of the winner. It was another seven-year-old gelding to help complete the double when the enigmatic Arnold was able to score at Menangle, with Luke McCarthy taking the winning drive. Arnold was a winner of the Group 2 Trotters Sprint at Albion Park back on December 12, however since that win, not everything has gone to plan. Finishing second in two runs and unplaced in two runs since the Group 2 victory, Arnold bounced back to wining form with the all-the-way triumph. Passionate about the square gaited standardbred, to end the week with the double would certainly help ease some of the frustration of seeing the track washed away for Jeroen.   THIS WEEK With Easter this coming weekend, the racing calendar in Queensland is a little different this coming week. There will still be six meetings held from Monday to Sunday, but with no racing to take place on Good Friday. Redcliffe will host their regular Wednesday and Thursday fixtures, while Albion Park will have just the two meetings for the week - Tuesday afternoon and Saturday night’s metropolitan card. Marburg steps up this week to host two meetings that will be headlined by their Easter Sunday eggstravaganza, where the Oakwood Capital Goldstrike Final will be decided. Four heats for the standing start feature will be held on their Monday afternoon programme with the series once again being well supported by trainers and owners. The four heats look evenly matched with several new arrivals in Queensland stepping out for the first time as connections look to strike gold. Sunday’s meeting at Marburg is being promoted as an Easter Sunday Funday and their will be plenty of off-track activities to complement the on-track action. Stakeholders should remember to check altered nomination and acceptance deadlines - for both races and trials - for this week and next week owing to the Easter Break.   Darren Clayton for Racing Queensland

The new-look TAB Queensland Summer Harness Racing Carnival has paid immediate dividends after enjoying stunning growth in 2020. With the Inter Dominion Carnival postponed due to COVID-19, a number of Queensland’s biggest races, including the Group 1 TAB Blacks A Fake, were parachuted into the Summer Carnival, with turnover increasing by 80% and revenue increasing by 88%. Unsurprisingly, the TAB Blacks A Fake, one of only seven Grand Circuit events across Australasia, was the highest turnover race for the Carnival at more than $775,000. While the dominant victory of King Of Swing impacted revenue on the race, the Blacks A Fake enjoyed national coverage on the Seven network, marking the first time harness racing had been seen on free-to-air in Australia since 2018. “The Queensland harness racing industry continues to make great strides,” Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell said. “The growth in turnover and revenue was particularly pleasing, with the marquee nights of the Summer Carnival all enjoying strong growth. “Having recently unveiled the programme for this year’s TAB Queensland Constellations, we look forward to carrying that momentum into the winter period.” The inaugural TAB Queensland Constellations was unveiled earlier this month and will feature 11 Group 1 races and more than $2 million in prize money and bonuses.   RQ Media

A new era has arrived for the Queensland harness racing industry. In a bid to turbocharge the code’s popularity, drivers’ colours will be launched at Albion Park from Saturday night. Under the initiative, six of the state’s highest profile drivers will turn out in new and exciting colours which is aimed at attracting new fans to the code. They are: Brendan Barnes; Matt Elkins; Angus Garrard; Narissa McMullen; Pete McMullen; and Kylie Rasmussen. An integrated promotional campaign will be unveiled to support the initiative which has seen brands developed to showcase each driver, along with tailored silks (sponsored by Hylands), wheels (sponsored by Forward Motion Technologies) and helmets to make them readily identifiable for TV audiences and those on track. Racing Queensland Executive General Manager Operations Adam Wallish said the drivers’ colours promotion would be trialed for the next six months and would be supported through a range of activities. “Our harness racing code continues to challenge the status quo in Queensland,” Mr Wallish said. “Following the successful introduction of Trot Rods last year – including the broadcast innovations and enhancements that has brought the viewer closer to the action than ever before – drivers’ colours will be used to hero our drivers in the Sunshine State. “Through our brand development, we want fans to connect with them in the same way they look up to their other sporting heroes. “While the horses will always by the stars - owners and trainers are critical to the racing ecosystem - the broadcasting of our sport and the frequency of racing by our leading drivers means that they are the most recognizable, and thus, have the ability to connect and draw in new fans. “To bring the campaign to life, we will also work with our wagering partners to offer new and exciting products to help amplify their profiles.” Following feedback from participants, owners or trainers’ colours will be permitted for Group races during the trial period including the TAB Queensland Constellations. Last week, RQ unveiled the new-look Winter Carnival which includes 11 Group 1 races and more than $2 million in prize money and bonuses. “We’re happy to support Racing Queensland and harness racing as it comes up with new ideas to create interest and promote the drivers, who are a vital part of harness racing and key to attracting people to the code,” Tabcorp Managing Director, Wagering & Media, Adam Rytenskild said. In the United States, drivers’ colours are already utilised, with two of Queensland’s best-known exports, Todd and Andy McCarthy, instantly recognisable whilst driving at the Meadowlands. Sky Racing’s Adam Hamilton is among the key supporters of the initiative, having witnessed its success abroad. “Australians only need to look at American racing where heroes from Down Under Todd McCarthy, Andy McCarthy and Dexter Dunn are highly visible, promoted by driving in every race in their own colours,” Mr Hamilton said. “This is a great initiative that I can’t wait to see.” Click here for more on drivers' colours.    RQ Media

Redcliffe Peninsula Harness Racing and Sporting Club Bernie Ring is excited about the increase in prize money and upgrade to Group 2 status for the Redcliffe Yearling Sale 3YO final graduate race. With the 2021 sales fast approaching, the races prize money will be increased from $35,000 up to $50,000 and will now be run as a Group 2 event. The sale will be held at Redcliffe Paceway on Sunday, March 28 at 12 noon. A quality line-up of 73 lots have been nominated. President Ring thinks the extra prize money and making the race a Group 2 will be a positive for the industry. “We are quite happy to do it, we have gone to the 3YO series because not all yearlings make it as 2YO’s, so we are happy to go into the 3YO’s,” Ring said. “It is a good increase in prize money, the same as what we did with the 2YO a couple of years ago, going from $80,000 to $100,000. “Now we have a Group 1 and a Group 3 race for 2YO and 3YO’s, so there is a chance they can win upwards of $100,000 in this series. “We have worked on it for a little while to try and increase the prize money for the sales series races.” The increase in prize money has been co-funded by Racing Queensland and the Redcliffe club. The increase will take effect from this year’s sale, meaning the increase will come into effect from 2023. As a Group 3 event in June of last year, the Grant Dixon trained and driven Governor Jujon took out the Redcliffe Yearling Sale 3YO final. He started as a short priced favourite and won well, with the victory one of his 17 career wins. If any potential buyers are looking to come from interstate for the 2021 Garrard’s Redcliffe Yearling Sale on Sunday 28 March, Ring (pictured) says they should contact the club to organise their accommodation and transport. Ring and the club have structured a deal where interstate visitors can stay at a designated accommodation provider and get a courtesy bus to and from the sales, with another courtesy bus to the airport the following day. Sale graduates are eligible for the Garrard’s Redcliffe Yearling Sale Series with a $100,000 2YO Sale Classic in 2022 and a $50,000 3YO Sale Classic in 2023.   Jordan Gerrans

The inaugural TAB Queensland Constellations is set to sparkle this winter. Having enjoyed a $500,000 stakes increase, more than $2 million in prize money and bonuses will go on the line, with not one but two new Group 1s headlining the Sunshine State’s flagship harness racing carnival. To commence three action-packed weeks at Albion Park, the Group 1 Rising Sun – the richest race in the Southern Hemisphere for three and four-year-old pacers – will make its highly anticipated debut on July 10. The following week, The Golden Girl, an all-new Group 1 for fillies and mares, will anchor a mouth-watering card that includes the Sunshine Sprint. The final night of the carnival will feature an incredible six Group 1s, with the Queensland Derby and Oaks, the QBRED Triad Finals and the Queensland Trotters Cup supporting the TAB Blacks A Fake, one of only seven Grand Circuit events across Australasia. “The spotlight is ready to shine on the TAB Queensland Constellations and the nation’s brightest harness stars,” RQ CEO Brendan Parnell said. “Off the back of an incredible Summer Carnival, we look forward to unveiling the Constellations and hosting six weeks of electrifying racing at Albion Park and Redcliffe.” In total, the Constellations will feature 11 Group 1s with the addition of the Rising Sun and The Golden Girl. As part of the Rising Sun conditions, two wildcards for three-year-olds can be offered, as well as two invites to Australasia’s best four-year-oldd, with newly crowned Chariots of Fire winner, Expensive Ego, the first to be invited to the event. Since being purchased at the APG Brisbane Yearling Sale in 2018, Expensive Ego has gone on to capture 12 of 16 starts - placing in a further two races - with more than $300,000 in stakes and three Group 1 victories. “With a galaxy of stars set to compete over winter, Albion Park looks forwards to hosting a spectacular program of events both on and off the track at The Creek,” APHRC Chairman Brad Steele said. “Boasting 11 Group 1s – and two $250,000 features – harness racing in Queensland continues to improve and strengthen.” Black-type racing will commence on the Peninsula with heats of the Group 1 Garrard’s Redcliffe Yearling Sale 2YO Final being staged on June 18. The opening night of the Constellations will also feature the Group 3 Redcliffe Yearling Sale 3YO Final and the listed Patrons Purse for four-year-olds and five-year-olds. The following week, the first Group 1 of the carnival will be run and won, with the Group 2 Redcliffe Cup also anchoring the feature night on June 26. “It’s fantastic to be part of the TAB Queensland Constellations,” Redcliffe Harness Racing Club President Bernie Ring said. “It has been a difficult period for everyone, but racing has led the way, and we look forward to hosting our Group features and seeing everyone on the Peninsula.” Click here to read more about the TAB Queensland Constellations.    RQ Media

Catch up on the week’s harness racing action in our weekly review, thanks to Darren Clayton.   THE GOOD The trotting gait in Queensland continues to go from strength to strength. However, the square gaiter may not even be in existence in Queensland were it not for the foresight and generosity of one man - Jim McNeil. The deeds of McNeil are remembered annually with the Group 3 Jim McNeil Memorial Trotting Championship and the latest edition of that series concluded on Saturday night with the victory of Unknown Son. Trained by Graham Dwyer and driven to victory by Pete McMullen, Dwyer became the 10th trainer to win the McNeil Final at its 11th running. Doug Lee is the only trainer to win the race twice, while Gary Whitaker is the only driver to have claimed success in the Final on two occasions. Following two rounds of heats, Unknown Son entered the Final with a win and a second placing, and had the support of the punters, sent to the post as the $3.60 favourite. The other 13 runners were left chasing all the way, as Unknown Son and McMullen controlled the tempo to score. Holding a two-and-a-half-metre winning margin over the Grant Dixon trained and driven Aladdin Sane, there was a further 12-metres back to third placed Van Sank for Adam Sanderson for trainer Shannon Price. It has been a whirlwind ride to this point with the four-year-old Unknown Son taking his record to four wins from just nine starts with his McNeil success. The victory was a breakthrough moment for Dwyer and his family that run Kingslodge, landing their first Group victory. Saturday night’s Jim McNeil victory was also the first time that the red Kingslodge branded racing silks had been worn in a race. After their most successful season by winners last term, Dwyer and the Kingslodge team have continued the successful run, guiding home 16 winners after two months of the season to be firmly entrenched in the top 10 trainers in the state.   THE BAD Despite the impressive victory, it was not all smooth sailing for Unknown Son, the gelding providing connections with some extremely anxious moments as the field was waiting to be released. Fractious behind the tapes, Unknown Son reared high and as he came down, he landed and struck Spiders Devil standing next to him on the front-line tape. That led to a brief delay as a vet inspection passed Spiders Devil of any injury, before Unknown Son continued to be fractious and was keen to get the race underway. Again rearing, this time the four-year-old lost his balance and fell to the track and all the hard-work to get the gelding to this point was teetering on the edge. Luckily, he was able to get straight to his feet and after vet Mark McGarry ran a careful eye over the gelding, he was passed fit to start, but was repositioned to the outside of the front line. After all the early drama, Unknown Son would possibly have been forgiven if making an early error, yet he was safely into stride. With the capacity field quickly settling into order, McMullen sent Unknown Son forward and after 600 metres had assumed control of the race in front, a position he would maintain throughout. Unknown Son joins Its Three By Two as the only winners of the Series to come from the front-line tape, with the other nine winners having all come from a handicap. The win was made even sweeter, with Unknown Son bred by Marty with close friend Denis Grieve. Grieve and Dwyer bred the well-named Unknown Son from a mare they raced in partnership - Im Anonymiss - with that mare winning one race at Albion Park and contested the 2015 Jim McNeil Final, finishing in eighth position when prepared by Dwyer. Unknown Son is the first and only foal to date from the mare Im Anonymiss and is by the champion sire Majestic Son, a stallion that has really made his mark in the Southern Hemisphere. Ever the pragmatist, ask Graham what could add to the racing arsenal of Unknown Son and the answer comes back quickly - “it would be good if he was a QBRED.”   THE MILESTONE Taleah McMullen closed out Saturday’s race meeting with a milestone moment when scoring victory in the final two races on the card. Taking the reins aboard Red Castleton - trained by her partner Trent Lethaby and owned by the pair - the eight-year-old was able to score a smart win in the Trotters Marathon. The win was a mix of firsts all round, with the Group 3 win providing McMullen and Lethaby with their first Group success as owners, as a trainer and as a driver. Beginning safely from the 10-metre handicap, Red Castleton was sent forward and after 700 metres had worked to the front before releasing to Gee Up Neddy following the completion of one lap. The moves continued to come and soon Red Castleton was buried three back along the inside. Knowing the speed the gelding possesses, McMullen was content to bide her time, and with a saloon passage presenting along the inside, sprinted clear to score. Red Castleton has been super consistent since arriving from New Zealand, with the eight-year-old racking up two wins and three minors in seven outings. One race later and Taleah was back for more success, this time with a pacer she owns and trains. Gosling In Flight made great use of an easy run in behind the speed to sprint clear in the stretch to claim the Marburg to Albion Final. Since taking on the gelding back in September, Taleah has placed him expertly, claiming nine victories and five minors in 20 starts and still with a rating of just 58. The double also added more funds to the Team Teal initiative, with McMullen proving she has been a worthy ambassador in 2021. In a super start to the season and the year, Taleah is currently third in the State Drivers Premiership and the leading female driver in the state with 27 wins to date.   THE WILDCARD The Jack Butler stable is riding the crest of a wave at present, leading the Queensland Trainer Premiership two months into the season. Butler has put the polish on 31 winners for the season to date, to sit second overall on the National Premiership. Only Tasmania’s Ben Yole has trained more winners in the season - currently with 48 - however Butler’s winners have come from just 160 starters. In Queensland, Butler holds an 8-win buffer over Grant Dixon in second and sits 11 wins clear of third placed Chantal Turpin. With the retirement of Hectorjayjay at the end of last season, Rock With Sam is now the best credentialed pacer in the barn and the seven-year-old was successful in the opening race on Saturday. Pressing forward, he was never headed once in control to claim career victory number 21, with 19 of those coming at The Creek. On Friday, Franco Hampton remained undefeated for the stable when scoring from the front to make it three wins since joining forced with Butler. The winning rate of 1.52.4 equalled his win from the previous week, while on Tuesday Casino Tommy was in beast mode when successful. Recently re-joining Butler after being claimed by a former owner, Casino Tommy sat parked over the mile and flexed his muscle in a monster crush. Putting At West Point away, the eight-year-old was brutal in pacing the mile in 1.51.8, to make it 3 wins in his past 4 starts.    THIS WEEK There will be six race meetings this week in Queensland with Redcliffe and Albion Park each playing host to three meetings. The Creek will be the venue for the regular Tuesday and Friday afternoon meetings to coincide with the metropolitan fixture on Saturday night. Redcliffe will have an extra meeting this week, with the regular Wednesday and Thursday cards complemented with racing at The Triangle on Sunday night. After six weeks, the Team Teal promotion will also wrap up this week, with the last meeting for the fundraising initiative held on Saturday. A female driver invitation race will be held in recognition of the great work of the past six weeks, with the Team Teal Invitation Pace over the mile offering $14,060 and a penalty exemption to the winner.   Darren Clayton for Racing Queensland

Catch up on the week’s harness racing action in our weekly review, thanks to Darren Clayton.   THE GOOD The long trip home to Warwick on the Southern Downs would have been a little more bearable for trainer Dayl March on Saturday night following the success of Clintal Do. Stepping out under race conditions for the 100th time, the seven-year-old raised the bat in style when swooping over the top of his rivals for a deserved victory. Charging home in his races in recent weeks, the gelding had placed in six of his previous seven starts, as he continued to knock at victory’s door. Landing gate seven on Saturday was not ideal, yet the race worked out exactly as it looked on paper, with a strong early and mid-race tempo working in favour of Clintal Do. Angled to the outside by driver Adam Sanderson, the gelding charged home to score in impressive fashion, again running some slick closing sectionals with the victory. The win also ended a frustrating drought for connections. Considering the strong record throughout his career that shows 27 wins and 31 placings, amazingly 12 months had ticked over since his previous victory. That win came on February 22, 2020 - when scoring in an open event - with a further 24 starts between wins, placing in 12 of those outings. Victory also ensured the gelding maintained his record of a victory in every season he has raced since his two-year-old days. It has been a successful career that includes victory in the QBRED three-year-old and four-year-old Triad Finals, a Redcliffe Cup, an Armidale Cup, and a track record at Inverell. That track record was set when still just a three-year-old, when claiming victory by a mammoth 67.9 metres. With the winning drought broken, the rains of success might just continue for March and his stable star.   THE BAD Horses can be the ultimate test of patience and square gaiters can quite often raise that bar even higher, proving the ultimate test for a farrier, trainer, and driver to elicit the best from the animal. Living up to his name somewhat, Crazy Ben has proven the ultimate frustration for his trainers and owners throughout his career. After scoring two wins and seven placings in his first 13 race outings with former trainer Chris Svanosio, it has been exasperation ever since. Joining the Joe and Mary Rando stable in Sydney, the gelding started on 27 occasions without a victory and was ultimately placed on the market. Ryan Veivers opted to try his luck in finding the key to the son of Crazed, purchasing the gelding and took over the training. After nine starts for Veivers, he was again moved on, this time sent to the barn of Dan Russell. Continuing to search for the answers, Russell took Crazy Ben to Marburg for his 12th attempt under his name on Sunday for a stand-start event over 2200 metres. Stepping cleanly, Crazy Ben with Matt Elkins in the sulky were able to control the tempo and hold on to score his 3rd career victory. It was close to two years since his last victory, with that win coming on March 11, 2019 at Horsham. Since that victory, Crazy Ben has been the ultimate test of perseverance and resilience to his owners and trainers along the way. With 49 starts and 4 stand-downs in between drinks, is the new Ben ready to take over? Connections are no doubt crossing their fingers that he has.   THE MILESTONE Hitting some nice areas throughout February, young trainer and driver Lachie Manzelmann has been a regular in the winner’s enclosure over the past week. Starting at Redcliffe on Wednesday night, Manzelmann was able to drive a winner for Mitchell Dawson, as well as training his own winner. Cyclone Kelly has now scored victory in two of his five starts since joining the Knight Street stables of Manzelmann, with Team Teal Ambassador Chloe Butler taking the drive on the six-year-old gelding. Three races later and Lachie was able to reach 200 wins as a driver when arriving with Faireachdainn. The Mr Feelgood mare claimed her third race victory and picked up the QBRED second-win bonus after sprinting strongly to score. Picking up where he left off from the night before, Manzelmann partnered with the Jonah Hutchinson-trained Lets Blaze to win the opening race on Thursday afternoon at Redcliffe. He quickly made it a double, claiming race two for Lola Weidemann aboard Miss Catalina when making full use of the passing lane, before making it three winners for the afternoon with Aqua Cruiser. Taking the drive for trainer Steve Coombs, it was a smart front-running display when leading all the way to score a strong four-metre victory. Slingshot was successful in race seven on Friday at Albion Park, when leading all the way in a smart 1.54.8 mile-rate, the gelding rated perfectly in front by Manzelmann. No stranger to landing a winner at a big price - having claimed the 2019 Newcastle Mile aboard outsider Yayas Hot Spot - Lachie was able to get the spoils with Kingdom Come on Saturday night. The $81 rank-outsider was driven patiently before sprinting hard to arrive for an upset victory. Rounding out the week with a trip to Marburg, Manzelmann completed the week with victory aboard the Lacey Hinze trained High On Montana in a heat of the Marburg to Albion series. With a career high 64 wins for the season secured last term, Manzelmann is currently sitting on 19 wins after two months this season - and it augers well for a strong 2021.   THE WILDCARD Spending time working with master trainer Shane Tritton has proven a pay-it-forward experience for young horseman Jonah Hutchinson. Purchasing six two-year-olds at the start of 2019, Shane and Lauren Tritton established the Team Tritton Fractional Ownership Group. With Shane and Lauren then heading to the USA in March of 2020, the six horses spent time in various stables around New South Wales until recently. After spending time with the former premier trainer before his relocation to the United States, Hutchinson returned to Queensland and began increasing the numbers in his own stable. Those number have blossomed in 2021 with Tritton showing faith in his former staffer, sending all six horses to the Queensland stables of Hutchinson. That faith was repaid at Redcliffe last Thursday when Lets Blaze scored an impressive win at his first start for the new partnership. Starting a short-priced elect, the colt showed a brilliant turn of acceleration to sprint clear and post an effortless 15-metre victory. There was some good symmetry with the victory, with the winning drive taken by Lachie Manzelmann, also a former Team Tritton member. Releasing some pressure with the first win out of the way for his new owners, the Hutchinson barn looks ready to step-up after a lean start to the first two months of the season.   THIS WEEK All eyes will focus on The Creek this Saturday night with an action-packed night of racing programmed. Following the completion of four heats for the Jim McNeil Memorial held over four rounds, the Final will be held this Saturday over 2,647 metres with the Group 3 Final carrying stakes of $26,330. Orlando Jolt will be looking to make a clean sweep of the series after claiming victory in both heats. The other two heat winners were, Van Sank and Unknown Son. There will be two Group 3 events for the square gaiters with the Trotters Marathon over the long trip of 3,157 metres also to be decided. Supporting these Group events will be the latest instalment of the Marburg to Albion Final, with heat winners Donny Jones, Gosling In Flight, High On Montana and Our Friend all set to feature. A Lady Drivers Invitation event will also be conducted to help celebrate International Women’s Day, the race carrying a penalty exemption for mares that do not have a band assessment. Five race meetings will be held for the week, with Albion Park racing Tuesday afternoon and Friday and Saturday nights. Redcliffe has two meetings this week, hosted in the regular slot of Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon.   Darren Clayton for Racing Queensland

Colt Thirty One has confirmed his standing as one of the Sunshine State’s greatest ever standardbreds after securing tonight’s top accolade at the 2020 TAB Queensland Harness Awards in Brisbane. The Grant Dixon-trained pacer was crowned the TAB Queensland Harness Horse of the Year for a third straight occasion, edging out fellow finalists Governor Jujon and Majestic Simon following another remarkably consistent campaign. From 34 starts in season 2019/20, the six-year-old claimed 14 wins and 13 placings, including three Group 3 races, as well as a triumph in the 2019 Group 2 Queensland Cup followed by a second placing in its 2020 iteration. He also ran a formidable second placing to one of the nation’s premier pacers, King Of Swing, while attempting to defend his crown in the Group 1 Blacks A Fake, finishing the season amassing $276,849 in stakes.  Colt Thirty One was also named the Queensland Aged Pacer of the Year and the Albion Park Harness Racing Club Horse of the Year. The son of Mach Three joins Blacks A Fake and Avonova as three-time Horse-of-the-Year winners, and along with Avonova, is the only horse to claim the Award in three successive years. Not surprisingly, Dixon, who trained a nation-high 380 winners, was named both Australian and Queensland Trainer of the Year, among a raft of other accolades. Horse of the Year finalist Majestic Simon, trained by Chantal Turpin, was named the Garrards Trotter of the Year after claiming 10 wins from 29 starts in season 2019/20, including both the Group 2 Darrell Alexander Trotting Championship and Group 3 Jim McNeil Trotting Championship. Chantal Turpin enjoyed further success on the evening, with her Group 1-winning two-year-old Big Wheels taking home the Sky Racing 2YO Pacer of the Year. Pete McMullen capped off a stellar season in the sulky, driving home 205 winners across the state at a winning strike rate of 15% to take out the Garrards Driver of the Year. Another Horse of the Year finalist in Governor Jujon was named the Sky Racing 3YO Pacer of the Year after taking home five Group races in Queensland, as well as the Group 2 Simpson Memorial in Menangle, and heats of both the NSW and Victoria Derby. Finally, Pelosi – trained by Anna Woodmansey – made it back-to-back Filly or Mare of the Year triumphs, sharing the gong with Wayne Graham’s Justalittle Torque. “Colt Thirty One has once again proven to be Queensland’s exceptional pacer and is a deserving Horse-of-the-Year winner for an incredible third year in a row,” Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell said. “His remarkable consistency saw him once again compete with the nation’s best pacers, highlighted by his fantastic second placing to King Of Swing in this year’s Group 1 TAB Blacks A Fake. “Grant Dixon has also been appropriately recognised for another record-breaking season, claiming both state and national Trainer of the Year awards. “I congratulate all award winners, and look forward to another brilliant harness racing season here in the Sunshine State.” In total, 44 Awards of distinction were presented at the event.   2020 TAB Queensland Harness Award Winners TAB Queensland Harness Horse of the Year – Colt Thirty One (Grant Dixon) Garrards Queensland Trotter of the Year – Majestic Simon (Chantal Turpin) Garrards Queensland Trainer of the Year – Grant Dixon Garrards Queensland Driver of the Year – Pete McMullen Queensland Filly or Mare of the Year – Pelosi (Anna Woodmansey) and Justalittle Torque (Wayne Graham) Queensland Aged Pacer of the Year – Colt Thirty One (Grant Dixon) Sky Racing Queensland 3YO Pacer of the Year – Governor Jujon (Grant Dixon) Sky Racing Queensland 2YO Pacer of the Year – Big Wheels (Chantal Turpin) Queensland Broodmare of the Year – Washington Lass Queensland Breeder of the Year – Burwood Stud Queensland Owner of the Year – Solid Earth P/L and Dr John Mammino (tie) Queensland Concession Driver of the Year – Angus Garrard Kevin & Kay Seymour Queensland Young Achiever Award (Female) – Chloe Butler Kevin & Kay Seymour Queensland Young Achiever Award (Male) – Angus Garrard   National Award Winners HRA National Award for Best Published Action or Still Photograph – Dan Costello HRA National Award for Best Print Historical Feature – Andrew Adermann HRA Australian Trainer of the Year – Grant Dixon   Albion Park Harness Racing Club Horse of the Year – Colt Thirty One (Grant Dixon) Drivers’ Premiership – Nathan Dawson Trainers’ Premiership – Grant Dixon Owner of the Year – Solid Earth P/L Mare of the Year – Justalittle Torque   Redcliffe Harness Racing Club Horse of the Year – Nikalong Henry (Doug Lee) Drivers’ Premiership – Nathan Dawson Trainers’ Premiership – Grant Dixon Concession Driver of the Year – Angus Garrard Mare of the Year – Ashlee Nitro Redcliffe Pegasus Award – Marburg Pacing Association Volunteers   Marburg Harness Racing Club Horse of the Year – Scheu Creek (Ben Aldons) Drivers’ Premiership – Taleah McMullen Trainers of the Year – John McMullen   Breeders Owners Trainers and Reins-persons Association of Queensland Awards BOTRA Rookie of the Year (Male) – Angus Garrard BOTRA Rookie of the Year (Female) – Chloe Butler BOTRA Centurion Medal Trainer – Grant Dixon BOTRA Centurion Medal Trainer – Jack Butler BOTRA Centurion Medal Trainer – Chantal Turpin BOTRA Centurion Medal Driver – Grant Dixon BOTRA Centurion Medal Driver – Pete McMullen BOTRA Centurion Medal Driver – Narissa McMullen BOTRA Centurion Medal Driver – Nathan Dawson BOTRA Centurion Medal Driver – Paul Diebert BOTRA Centurion Medal Driver – Angus Garrard BOTRA Centurion Medal Driver – Taleah McMullen BOTRA Centurion Medal Driver – Adam Sanderson   Racing Queensland

Catch up on the week’s harness racing action in our weekly review, thanks to Darren Clayton. THE GOOD  Turn It Up did just that on Saturday night at Albion Park and confirmed his ticket to tackle an inter-state campaign in the process of his scintillating victory. Starting from gate 10 over the mile, Shane Graham soon had the gelding in the running line as reigning Horse of the Year, Colt Thirty One rolled to the lead. Staring from wide off the front line, Grant Dixon looked to take advantage of staying in front of Turn It Up and after an opening quarter of 27 seconds was able to slow it right down through the second stanza. With 31.3 appearing for that second quarter of the last mile, it appeared that Colt Thirty One had a firm hold on proceedings. However, in the space of 100 metres, Turn It Up had turned the race upside down. Set alight from the one-by-one trail, Shane Graham hit the afterburners- with Turn It Up responding- scorching the back straight to be in command before the 400. It was a winning move and the six-year-old was able to cruise home, running some slick closing sectionals. Stopping the clock with a mile-rate of 1.52.1, the Courage Under Fire gelding now heads to the Newcastle Mile where a showdown with Lochinvar Art looms. David Moran, trainer of Lochinvar Art has pencilled in that race as his preferred lead-up to the Miracle Mile with the winner gaining automatic entry to Australia’s richest pacing race. Turn It Up has been in great form since joining the Vicki Rasmussen stable, finishing with three wins and three second placings in just six starts. Yet to miss a place in 21 career starts, the gelding has faced injury concerns throughout his career but appears to be handling the racing demands under Rasmussen’s care. The NSW Carnival of Miracles could be a bonanza for Rasmussen and Graham as their other stable star, One Change, chases a Chariots of Fire berth via this week’s Paleface Adios Stakes. With the Chariots winner also securing a Miracle Mile berth, can Vicki dare to dream that she could possibly have a dual pronged attack in the Mile.   THE BAD Every driver goes through a period where it can seem no matter how hard you try to win, it just does not go to plan. Narissa McMullen experienced a lean spell by her lofty standards through the second half of January where it just seemed the next winner was an eternity away. That feeling was no doubt exasperated from the fact of the momentous number that was lurking on her career statistics. Overcoming the ‘nervous nineties’ Narissa McMullen scored a landmark victory on Friday at Albion Park when securing the 1000th driving win of her career aboard Royal Obsession. Stuck on 999 wins after the victory of Slingshot on January 15, Rocket Riss had been close with several placings before finally landing the milestone breakthrough. Scoring her first race victory aboard Miniature Classic at Albion Park on October 18, 2010, Ron Sallis was the trainer of Narissa’s first winner, and it was again Sallis that provided win 1000. Royal Obsession had been building towards a victory after some good runs in recent weeks and settling midfield, arrived with a well-timed run to score. The McMullen/Sallis combination has been a successful one in the ten years that Narissa has been driving, scoring plenty of victories together. The most successful of their combination has been Comply Or Die, a pacer that Narissa has partnered to success on 26 occasions for Sallis. Narissa- the second eldest of the four McMullen siblings- joins brother Pete in reaching 1000 victories. Despite playing second-string to Pete in number of victories, Narissa was able to take bragging rights two races after her momentous win. Narissa drove a perfectly judged race to defeat the odds-on favourite Big Wheels, driven by her big brother. In the sulky behind the aptly named Cool And Calculating, Narissa quickly set about moving towards the next 1000 wins.   THE MILESTONE Chloe Butler started her ambassadorial role for Team Teal with a full book of six drives in all six races at Albion Park on February 2. With a six-week period of all female drivers wearing the teal pants to fundraise for ovarian cancer research, each state also has a pair of ambassador drivers Queensland represented by Butler and Taleah McMullen. It was a mixed day for Chloe with two fourth placings and three fifth placed finishes. The best result for the day was a strong finish aboard Cardlesfromheaven for trainer Ian Gurney when charging late to grab second place behind the odds-on favourite Paravani. Heading to Redcliffe for the second night in the Teal silks, Butler had a book of four drives. The night started perfectly when leading all the way in the opening race of the evening with Huntaway. Sent straight to the front, the seven-year-old was able to stave off all challengers to claim his eighth career victory and second since joining the Jack Butler stable. Race three was Chloe’s next drive and like race one, it was a case of first out, first home with Rum Delight continuing his strong form in scoring another victory. Finishing down the line in race five aboard Cannan, Butler’s last drive of the night was in race eight for trainer Lachie Manzelmann. Taking the reins aboard Cyclone Kelly, Chloe was able to issue another front-running display after hustling the six-year-old out of the machine, press forward and wrestle away the lead. Once he was in control, the gelding was able to score an easy 4.9 metre victory and complete a winning treble for Butler. That was the first treble for Butler as she starts her third season of race driving. After driving 65 winners last season, Chloe Butler has completed the first five weeks of the 2021 Season with a handy 14 wins to sit fifth on the state premiership table. In total, the pair raised $2400 through the opening week of Team Teal with further fundraising chances on the horizon.   THE WILDCARD The father-and-daughter combination of Lacey and Warren Hinze had a successful end to the last week with wins on Thursday at Redcliffe and Friday at Albion Park. Our Dolly was the first of the two winners in an owner’s partnership for the Hinze’s when proving too strong over the 1780 metre trip at The Triangle, driven to victory by Shane Graham. Trained by Warren, the Lanercost filly was able to flex some muscle when scoring a tough win, breaking through for her fist career victory with a head margin on the line. The win also secured the pair the QBRED first win bonus with the three-year-old breaking through at start number 17. Our Dolly- out of the 2013 Redcliffe Oaks winner Montana Tess- went through the 2019 Redcliffe Yearling Sale but was unable to garner much interest before being a buy-back for $1000 by her then owners and breeder, Montana Park. Purchased privately by Warren and Lacey Hinze, the filly had her first race start in the heats of the Redcliffe Yearling Sales Series back in June 2020. Slowly starting to develop, the maiden breaking win came at career start number 17 for Our Dolly. On Friday, High On Montana landed his 11th career victory with Jonah Hutchinson taking the reins for the winning drive. Reversing the combination of Thursday’s win, High On Montana is trained by Lacey Hinze and like Our Dolly, is owned in partnership by Lacey and Warren. Settling back in the pack, it was a well-timed drive with Hutchinson bringing the gelding with the perfect run to claim the victory in a 1.56.5 mile-rate. Another private purchase from Montana Park, High On Montana started his career in Victoria with David Miles before heading to the Darrel Graham stable. Lacey Hinze then became his trainer following 16 career starts and two victories and had quick success with the gelding claiming three wins his first eight starts for the stable. Our Dolly and High On Montana have provided a successful start to February for the Hinze family.   THIS WEEK Five race meetings will be held this week in Queensland with Albion Park hosting the regular three and Redcliffe two meetings. Tuesday at The Creek is scheduled for a nine-race card with meetings to be held in day slot on Friday and the Metropolitan card on Saturday night. Redcliffe hosts a nine-event meeting on Wednesday night partnered by the Thursday afternoon fixture from the Peninsula Club. There is likely to be some Queensland interest at Menangle on Saturday night with One Change and Justalittle Torque featuring in the nominations as they search for feature race success.   Darren Clayton for Racing Queensland

Two of Queensland’s top pacers will use Saturday’s Albion Park meeting as a potential stepping stone towards the famous Miracle Mile next month. Queensland Harness Horse of the Year nominee Colt Thirty One will be back from a quick freshen up to take on rival Turn It Up over 1660m in a marquee match-up. The star pair are likely to be heading to NSW for the $1 million Miracle Mile at Menangle on the first Saturday of March following Saturday’s race. Trainer Vicki Rasmussen confirmed Turn It Up would certainly be heading south following Saturday while Grant Dixon - trainer and driver of Colt Thirty One - was leaning that way, as well. The reigning Horse of the Year in the Sunshine State, Colt Thirty One, has had a short break from racing since the middle of December last year ahead of his return to the racetrack. “We might get two runs into him or at least one,” Dixon said of his plans ahead of the Miracle Mile. “It is going to be a really hard race and he will need to be on top of his game to go. “He will have to be going particularly well to warrant going down.” Colt Thirty One is edging closer to the special $1 million milestone in stakes across his career with another victory on Saturday evening putting him within touching distance. From his 46 wins, the six-year-old has won $988,831 with another $8,544 going into the kitty if he can get the cash on Saturday. One of Australia's leading harness racing trainer’s, Dixon, thinks Turn It Up, who won well at the track a fortnight ago, will be tough to get past come Saturday. “Turn It Up is a really good horse, he has drawn a little awkward, but he definitely will be the one to beat,” Dixon said. The Newcastle Mile, to be held on Friday February 19, will be Turn It Up’s next assignment ahead of the Miracle Mile. “I think he is definitely up to them at his best,” Rasmussen said. “We have had a couple of small issues with him and it will be a very hard race. “But you have to be in it to win it.” A winner of 13 races from just 20 career starts, Rasmussen is pleased with the way Turn It Up is going. “We are really happy with him, he seems very well, and we have been very happy with his trial and last run,” Rasmussen said. “As long as he goes good and we are happy with the way he pulls up from this run, he will be heading down south regardless of if he wins this week or not.” Colt Thirty One and Turn It Up filled the minor placings behind King of Swing in the Group 1 TAB Blacks A Fake  last year and Rasmussen thinks her pacer will have a tough task on his hands trying to defeat Colt Thirty One this Saturday. “Colt Thirty One is a really good horse and will be hard to beat, I think he will be in front of him,” Rasmussen said. “He will be incredibly hard to beat. “It will all just depend on how the race is run and where he ends up.” Colt Thirty One is considered a strong chance to claim a hat-trick of triumphs for Horse of the Year at the upcoming 2020 TAB Queensland Harness Awards later this month. He had 34 starts last season for 14 wins, 13 placings and $276,849 in prize money.   Jordan Gerrans for Racing Queensland

To reach 400 career races, Caboolture trainer Stewart Dickson thinks evergreen pacer Lancelot Bromac must have a massive heart and extraordinary will to compete. And, after going around for the 400th time, the long-time trainer does not think the veteran pacer will retire any time soon, declaring he still has plenty of juice left in the tank. The 11-year-old reached the magical 400 milestone on Tuesday at Albion Park, running an excellent race to finish second, and become just the fourth pacer to ever race on 400 different occasions. Dickson, who has nine horses in work, says Lancelot Bromac can get a little cranky in his old age, but still just loves going to the races. “He has been a great horse to me, he has no hiccups and loves going to the races,” Dickson said. “He gets trained out of a paddock all of the time and has the run of the place. “He never leaves feed or an oat, he goes for a buck and kick around the paddock, he gets a swim and we do not overdo him at home - he just keeps ticking along. “He has never raced against bad horses, he always goes sub two-minute mile races every time he goes around, he must be pretty big in the heart to be able to do that.” Dickson owns half of the winner of 28 career races. Fellow part-owner of Lancelot Bromac, Mitch Manners, who is an NSW race caller for Sky Racing, lauded the veteran’s efforts. “What an old marvel he is and even more special to be a part of the journey with Stew,” Manners said. “He’s a bloody ripper. “And, runs his 63rd second placing of his career at start 400.  “He’s a good boy.” Queenslander Manners has been a friend of Dickson’s family over the years and bought into the pacer after his old owners decided to sell out. The winner of $316,181 in career prize money has a cult following, his trainer believes. “He is the people’s horse, everyone knows Lancelot Bromac,” Dickson said. “He has got a good following, I get a few text messages about him pretty often, I got some the other day congratulating him on 400. “I should know of all of his traits now after 395 starts with him.” Dickson, who is in his 70's these days, takes it week-to-week with what he will do with his experienced pacer, just picking out a suitable race and says he thrives on going to the races every week. Over his career, Lancelot Bromac has always battled a lack of gate speed but has been able to overcome it. “He will be going for a bit longer yet, he only just got beaten the other day at Albion Park, he ran a good time there,” Dickson said. “I could not see any sense in retiring him yet. “He still has the will to race. “He is still a very competitive horse; his record speaks for itself.”   Darren "Dashman" Clayton's facts about Lancelot Bromac: Just four other pacers have ever reached this milestone of 400 career starts. He has won 28 races, driven to success by 10 individual drivers: Amanda Turnbull, Angus Garrard, Bart Cockburn, Brad Cowen, Brendan Barnes, Dannielle Veivers x6, Hayden Barnes x4, Nathan Dawson x3, Pete McMullen x9 and Shane Graham. He has raced on four tracks - Albion Park, Redcliffe, Gold Coast and Kilcoy - for 27 wins at Albion Park with his first ever win at Gold Coast. At Heaquarters, he has won from all barrier positions except barrier 10. Trained by Shannon Price for his first five starts, he has been with Stewart Dickson ever since. Has a best win of 1.53.8 and joins Destreos, Mister Skye Rocket, I’m Born to Rule and Cane Smoke in the 400 club.

Racing Queensland has today announced the finalists for the 2020 TAB Queensland Harness Awards. Staged at Fridays Riverside on Sunday, February 21, the Queensland Harness Awards will acknowledge the Sunshine State’s most outstanding standardbreds and participants over the past season. Having been named Horse of the Year in 2018 and 2019, Colt Thirty One will be looking to make it a hat-trick of triumphs following another stellar season of performances at the top level. The Grant Dixon-trained pacer will be joined by stablemate Governor Jujon and Chantal Turpin’s star trotter, Majestic Simon, as the three nominees in the hunt for the top gong. Colt Thirty One was at his consistent best in 2019/20, claiming three Group 3 races, as well as a triumph in the 2019 Group 2 Queensland Cup followed by a second placing in its 2020 iteration. The reigning Horse of the Year also ran a formidable second placing to the nation’s premier pacer, King Of Swing, while attempting to defend his crown in the Group 1 Blacks A Fake.  Dixon looks well-placed to claim the evening’s highest honour, with Governor Jujon also in contention. The gun three-year-old continued on from his dominant two-year-old season by claiming five Group races in Queensland, highlighted by the $50,000 Group 2 South East Queensland Derby. A successful trip interstate also saw the rising star claim the Group 2 2020 Simpson Memorial, as well as taking out heats of both the NSW and Victoria Derby, going on to finish second in the Final for the latter. One of the state’s premier trotters in Majestic Simon rounds out the nominations, after claiming 10 wins and six placings from 29 starts – including the Group 2 Darrell Alexander Trotting Championship and Group 3 Jim McNeil Trotting Championship. “This year’s finalists for the Horse of the Year highlight the quality and strength in Queensland’s harness racing ranks at present,” Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell said. “It would be a well-deserved honour to see Colt Thirty One claim a third title, however both his stablemate Governor Jujon and Majestic Simon have had stellar seasons and would be befitting of the honour. “It should be a wonderful evening for the industry to come together and celebrate the accomplishments of our equine and human participants, and I look forward to seeing everyone there.”   In total, over 30 Awards of distinction will be presented to Queensland's outstanding achievers including Horse of the Year, Trainer of the Year and Driver of the Year, as well as Albion Park, Redcliffe and Marburg club awards. The star-studded event includes entertainment, canapes and beverage package. Click here for more information on the 2020 TAB Queensland Harness Awards.   2020 Harness Awards Finalists Queensland Harness Horse of the Year Colt Thirty One - (Trained by Grant Dixon and owned by Solid Earth Pty Ltd Kevin & Kay Seymour). 34 starts last season for 14 wins, 13 placings and $276,849. Highlights: Four Group wins and runner up in the Group 1 Blacks A Fake and Group 2 Queensland Cup. Governor Jujon - (Trained by Grant Dixon and owned by Dr John Mammino). 18 starts for 12 wins, three placings and $227,748. Highlights: Won five Group races in Queensland, as well as the Group 2 Simpson Memorial in Menangle, and heats of both the NSW and Victoria Derby (running second in the Final). Majestic Simon – (Trained by Chantal Turpin and owned by Ross Patrick and Pam Hopper). 29 starts for 10 wins, six placings and $86,543. Highlights: Won the Group 2 Darrell Alexander Trotting Championship and Group 3 Jim McNeil Trotting Championship.   Queensland Aged Pacer of the Year Colt Thirty One Justalittle Torque Maywyns Best   Queensland Trotter of the Year Gee Up Neddy Greg The Great Majestic Simon   Queensland Filly or Mare of the Year Jasper Justalittle Torque Pelosi   Queensland 3YO Pacer of the Year Governor Jujon Pelosi Will The Wizard   Queensland 2YO Pacer of the Year Big Wheels Frontliner Jasper   Queensland Broodmare of the Year Bangkok Dancer Torque In Motion Washington Lass   Queensland Breeder of the Year Burwood Stud Ian Corazzol Solid Earth PTY LTD (Kevin and Kay Seymour)   Queensland Owner of the Year GSM Racing P/L (Greg Mitchell) Dr John Mammino Solid Earth PTY LTD (Kevin and Kay Seymour)   Racing Queensland

Catch up on the week’s harness racing action in our weekly review, thanks to Darren Clayton. THE GOOD It was another big week for the leading state-based futurity scheme in Australia with over $70,000 in bonus payments reaching the pockets of owners. The week started with a grass track meeting at Kilcoy where three $1,000 QBBRED cash bonus payments were paid to the connections of Montana Pride, Hurrikane Special and Groovy Miss Annie. Golightly claimed victory in the Moonee Valley of the North Pace and in the process also collected the $7,500 second win (subsequent season) bonus when scoring the fifth triumph of his career. Peter Nugent - a board member of HRNSW - was the beneficiary of a second win bonus when his mare Miss Lily May scored victory at Redcliffe on Wednesday night. Nugent has been a long-time stable client of Phil Mitchell who trained the mare to success, with the former Mitchell-owned On Pace Group having had strong success with the maternal family of Miss Lily May. Thursday afternoon at The Triangle proved to be a QBRED bonanza with five bonuses paid to winning connections with two first win and three second win payments. The opening race of the day proved a treasure chest for Darren Ebert who was the breeder, owner and trainer of Brisket, who claimed his first race victory and the $12,000 bonus at just his third career start. Fire Eyes was the other recipient of the first win bonus when claiming the fourth race of the day for trainer Mal Charlton with Steven Doherty taking the reins. Owned and bred by Greg Edwards, the A Rocknroll Dance gelding was finding the first win an elusive prize to capture, having placed in seven of his previous 10 starts before finally landing the breakthrough. Trainer Trent Dawson claimed two victories thanks to Mykindoffeeling for owners Solid Earth and Kissesforyamisses for partner Crystal Towns. Feel The Thunder claimed his third career victory along with the second win QBRED payment with a fast-finishing burst to score for trainer John McMullen and connections. The big week of payouts was wrapped up at Albion Park on Friday afternoon when Betterthanlego claimed her second win bonus. The payments flowed on and off the track, as the next generation of potential QBRED stars went through the sales ring with the first sale of the 2021 season. Australian Pacing Gold held its annual sale at Albion Park on Sunday with some strong results recorded from the 48 lots that went through the ring of the 53 catalogued. The top-priced lot was shared in a three-way split - with two colts and one filly all reaching $60,000. All three are QBRED-eligible and with APG also announcing an increase to the Brisbane Sales Final race to $150,000 for horses to come from this sale, the on-track earning potential looks enticing.   THE MILESTONE Acehigh Fella was a narrow winner when claiming the Parklands Function Centre Pace at Gold Coast on February 4, 2010 for owner Tony Turpin. Never scaling any great heights as a racehorse, the gelding did manage to score six wins in his career, but that win signified the start of what has been a superb training career thus far. The win was the second lifetime win of the then four-year-old, providing fledgling trainer Chantal Turpin with her first career victory as a trainer. Fast forward nearly 11 years to the day - January 30, 2021 - and Chantal reached another milestone when Saucy Dreams provided her 1000th training victory. It was a dominant display to bring up the momentous number, the six-year-old mare crushing her rivals in claiming victory by over 21 metres. With husband Pete McMullen taking the drive, the stable has been in great form in the past week with last week’s quartet of wins backed up with a double on Saturday night thanks to Blacksadance and Saucy Dreams. Breaking through for a century of victories for the first time in the 2013/14 season when leading home 104 triumphs, Turpin has managed to reach triple figures in every season since. The 2015/16 season was the most successful by number of wins for the stable when 149 winners carried the Turpin polish to victory. Season 2019/20 was arguably the best for the stable on several fronts, claiming 120 wins in the extended calendar. Group 1 success with Big Wheels along with multiple feature race wins through the Summer and Winter Carnivals have propelled the team into a strong position to start the 2021 season. Add to that the first win back in September in the mini-trotting ranks with daughter Rylee McMullen, and things in the Chantal Turpin stable look to be ticking along nicely.   THE WILDCARD Mark Belford was back in the Albion Park winner’s enclosure last week thanks to the success of the mare Betterthanlego. It has been a few years between drinks at The Creek for Mark, with son Dean doing the bulk of the driving for the Belford team. The last winner in the gig at Albion Park for Belford was back on June 30, 2017 when successful with Mister Blackjack. Mixing his time between duties as the Redcliffe track curator and preparing a small team, Mark Belford has had the track in superb order - highlighted by the recent Saturday night meeting where it held up to torrential rain. After limited success through the past two seasons, Mark has started the 2021 season in perfect fashion taking his tally to a perfect one from one strike rate. Betterthanlego had signalled that a win was not far away with some eye-catching performances in recent weeks since resuming from a spell. Placed in two of her previous four starts, the four-year-old mare had made an error at the start when second-up which resulted in her being placed as an outside draw runner. Earning her way back into the main draw following two clear starts without error, the daughter of Betterthancheddar started from gate two on Friday. Given time to balance up, the mare settled three back in the running line before making a strong closing challenge to arrive for the victory in a 1.56.2 mile-rate for the 1660-metre trip. Bred and owned by Debra Belford- Mark’s wife, Betterthanlego is out of the mare Jenzajet which Debra also bred and raced through a career of 12 victories. In the breeding barn the mare has produced two winners, the other being the Major Bronski mare Jenuflection, a winner of four races along with 13 placings in her career. Scoring her second career victory, Betterthanlego also claimed the $7,500 QBRED second win bonus for Debra.   THIS WEEK February has normally been the month in recent years that we see the first two-year-old race held, however with the racing season now mirroring the calendar year, that might not be the case in 2021. The racing week will see meeting five race meetings held with the regular schedule in play. Albion Park host a small but quality packed six-race card this Tuesday along with the Friday meeting and the Saturday night metropolitan meeting completing the week from The Creek. Redcliffe host the Wednesday night meeting with 10 races to be held along with the Thursday afternoon meeting. This week will also see the start of the Team Teal campaign. Held for six weeks through February and the first two weeks of March, all female drivers will wear the Teal pants - helping fund the fight against ovarian cancer. For every winner driven by a female during the period, $200 will be donated to the cause, with Racing Queensland, the Albion Park Harness Racing Club and the Redcliffe Harness Racing Club funding each donation. Chloe Butler and Taleah McMullen are the 2021 ambassadors and will also wear the Team Teal driving silks for each of their engagements during the six weeks.   Darren Clayton for Racing Queensland

Working their large Queensland property Lindsay and Mary Vagg, figured they needed a hobby. After spotting some standardbred fillies for sale, the couple decided harness racing could be the answer. Rather than concentrate on the racetrack, however, the Vaggs’ focus on was breeding, so they purchased some daughters of Fake Left. More than two decades later those two-year-olds have become magnificent foundations mares, with one of their descendants topping last year’s Australian Pacing Gold Brisbane Sale. “It all started out as a hobby,” Lindsay said. “Some Fake Left two-year-olds came on market so we bought them. “Both had tendon problems but were well-bred so we thought give it a go and breed from them. “But the first yearling we took to the sale was a rig which didn’t sell at $5000 so we took him back home again.” Initially disappointed the son of Perfect Art didn’t sell, the Vaggs soon realised it was a blessing in disguised. Racing as I Am Sam, the pacer won the APG Final as a three-year-old before eventually being retired with a bankroll of $531,702. “I Am Sam got us involved a bit more,” Lindsay said.   “A lot of the progeny we have are out of his sisters and are descendants of the foundation mares. “We’ve expanded out broodmare numbers over the years and have some very nicely-bred yearlings in Sunday’s APG Sale in Brisbane.” The first Vagg offering is Lot 10 – a colt by A Rocknroll Dance from Pretentious Lombo, which has a perfect record from three starters. An unraced mare from top producer Mister Maiden, Pretentious Lombo is a half-sister to champion pacer Lombo Pocket Watch. Also by A Rocknroll Dance, Lot 13 is the next Vagg entry – a filly from the same maternal line as Christian Cullen. Moving forward to Lot 38, the Vaggs will be represented by a stunning black colt by Betting Line from Exclusif. “He will make a nice compact two-year-old,” Vagg said. “He is medium size but muscular.” Rounding out the Vagg crew is a trotting bred filly which is by Centurion Atm from Joyces Image and will enter the ring as Lot 47. The couple also prepared Lots 45 and 52 for their daughter Kristie and son-in-law Julian Norrish. This APG Brisbane Sale - set down for Sunday at noon - has a serious pot of gold ($400,000) in local prize money on offer.  On top of this is an amazing incentive scheme for QBRED eligible horses, which sees a first-win bonus set at $12,000 at any age regardless of how many interstate wins they may have had, and a further $7,500 cash bonus for their first Queensland win in a subsequent season. Please contact Linda Graham on 0428 955 998 via email and she’ll be pleased to assist you with your online registrations, pre- bidding sale approvals or to answer any other questions that you may have on your travel and accommodation needs.   RQ Media

The Group 1 Albion Park Gold Final is poised to become the third richest harness race in Queensland after receiving a stakes’ increase to $150,000. Ahead of Sunday’s APG Sale at The Creek, which will see 48 pacing lots go through the ring, Racing Queensland and the Albion Park Harness Racing Club have announced a $50,000 prize money increase for the two-year-old feature from 2022. In recent years, the Brisbane APG Sale has produced some of Australia’s best juveniles, including Muscle Factory and Expensive Ego, and continues to go from strength-to-strength. “There’s never been a better time to purchase Queensland standardbreds,” Racing Queensland EGM Operations Adam Wallish said. “With a further $600,000 per annum being injected into our QBRED scheme, including a rise in the first-win bonus and the continuation of the second-win bonus, it's important that we continue to support our industry. “The uplift in prize money for the Albion Park Gold Final should provide genuine confidence for those purchasing at the Brisbane Sale this week and choosing to race in the Sunshine State.” In addition to today’s announcement, Australian Pacing Gold is poised to become the new partner of the mobile barrier at Albion Park. APHRC CEO Scott Steele said it was an exciting initiative and forecast further enhancements for the APG Sale in 2022. “It’s a fantastic result for yearling purchasers this Sunday, and moving forward, vendors will have the opportunity to maximise their returns in Queensland,” Mr Steele said “The APHRC committee, in partnership with RQ, jumped at the chance to increase the prize money by 50%, providing genuine benefits to the Queensland industry and attracting great interest from inter-state and overseas. “The club will now look to work with APG and RQ in developing a weekend harness spectacular next year. “We’re exploring initiatives such as a sales’ race or a drivers’ invitational to support next year’s APG Sale. “Watch this space.”   RQ Media

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