Day At The Track

Blacks A Fake concludes three stellar Saturdays

08:30 AM 15 Dec 2020 NZDT
Comment (...) Tweet Share Email Print
King Of Swing, Harness racing
King Of Swing
Dan Costello photo

Catch up on the week’s harness racing action in our weekly review, thanks to Darren Clayton.

THE GOOD

Officially taking place over three consecutive Saturday nights, Group racing at Albion Park as a part of the Queensland Summer Carnival concluded on Saturday night with victory to Frontliner.

A total of 30 races were decided across the three feature nights, with the starting favourite winning on thirteen occasions.

The shortest priced winner of the Carnival was Franco Hampton when successful in the No Band Final at a $1.22 quote.

On the flipside, the longest priced winner was Petite Paree, successful on the opening evening and Riverleigh Rocket on the second night, both saluting at $34.

The average starting price for the winner was $6.83.

The leading trainer for the Carnival was the New South Wales visitor Craig Cross, preparing eight winners - four on the second and four on the third night.

Leading the charge was King Of Swing in the Blacks A Fake, who was ably assisted by other Group winners Balraj (4YO Championship), Arnold (Trotters Sprint), No Win No Feed (Forever Gold) and Cruz (Queensland Cup).

Over the three weeks, the leading driver was Pete McMullen, who tasted victory on all three nights for a total of six winners.

Group victory came in the Darrell Alexander Memorial (Majestic Simon), while the personal highlight was the win of Will The Wizard in the JC McMullen.

Three drivers finished the Carnival with four wins a-piece; Shane Graham missed on night two but doubles at each of the other two aided his cause.

Meanwhile, Leonard Cain and Luke McCarthy were the beneficiaries of the quartet of wins on each night for Craig Cross; Leonard partnering all four winners on two weeks ago and Luke all four at the weekend.

Of the equine stars, three horses were able to win twice across the three meetings, with just one claiming a pair of Group wins.

The opening night saw Governor Jujon successful in the QBRED For Life, and one week later he backed that up with victory in the 3YO Colts & Geldings Classic, both races at Group 3 level.

Chevrons Reward claimed the Listed Queen of the Creek on the opening night, and the Band 5 Pace on the closing evening.

Will The Wizard backed up his success in the JC McMullen when securing a strong all the way win at the weekend in the Ultimate Tools 3YO Pace.

After a successful revamped Summer Carnival, it is likely that we only have seven months to wait for the next edition of the Blacks A Fake as it returns to the Winter timeslot.

 

THE BAD

The weather Gods were not friendly for the biggest night of the Carnival, with all ten races run in wet and muddy conditions.

Putting a dampener both literally and figuratively on the evening, in a year where seemingly everything has not gone to plan, it was a disappointing outcome.

Some things cannot be controlled, the weather being one of those and while the skies opened, the track held up to the downpours.

The track staff need to be complimented on delivering a race surface where all horses seemingly had their chance in the running, with leaders and off-pace runners successful throughout the night.

The popular jockeys and drivers’ races were still able to be completed as well, with leading hoop Baylee Nothdurft claiming the final race over Georgina Cartwright.

Last season’s leading jockey in Queensland, Nothdurft donated the $1,000 winner’s cheque to his chosen charity - Beyond Blue.

The last race on the card was also robbed of some lustre when the Chantal Turpin-trained pair of Big Wheels and Dance In The Sun were scratched.

Having won each of the previous two weeks’ two-year-old events, Frontliner was able to arrive in the last stride to defeat Manila Playboy.

Overall, the on-track action of the revamped Summer Carnival was a success.

 

THE MILESTONE

Despite reaching 65, retirement is a long way off for Luke McCarthy who has won nearly every big race there is to win in Australia.

Of course, Luke is not of retirement age, but King Of Swing’s victory on Saturday took McCarthy’s tally of Group 1 victories to 65.

Since claiming the 2004 Queensland Pacers Derby with Slipnslide, very few races at the elite level have eluded the talented reinsman.

Saturday’s victory was his second under the current race name, and his first since the Blacks A Fake became a Grand Circuit event in 2017.

The predecessor of the Blacks A Fake was the Queensland Pacing Championship, a race that McCarthy claimed for the first time in 2004 behind Cobbity Classic, and has claimed on a further six occasions.

Now based in New South Wales, it has been a long journey since scoring his first ever race victory aboard Castle Belles at Redcliffe back in March 1999.

With a fondness for The Creek, that was never more evident than Saturday where McCarthy landed a quartet of winners, with all four prepared by Craig Cross.

McCarthy fired a warning shot to his rivals in the opening race, when summing up the situation perfectly, he took off mid-race with Lets Katchmeifucan to find the front.

Catching his opponents off-guard in the move, he was then able to hold on to claim victory.

The win of Arnold in the Trotters Sprint added a Group 2 victory to his overall tally of 2,670 career wins.

Franco Hampton was the third of McCarthy’s four wins before the night was capped by King Of Swing who dominated his rivals in the easiest of victories.

A successful homecoming for Luke was rounded out by his 22nd Group 1 victory at The Creek.

 

THE WILDCARD

Owner Jeroen Nieuwenberg is no stranger to feature race success, however claiming the Group 2 Trotters Sprint on Saturday night with Arnold could possibly rank right up there.

The satisfaction factor would certainly be up there as Arnold has always shown immense ability countered by issues and manners that have hampered his progression.

Purchasing Arnold from the south Island of New Zealand, the gelded son of Muscle Mass arrived in Australia as a four-time winner.

Stepping out in Brisbane for the first time after crossing the Tasman on December 8 2018, Arnold finished with second placing in a run that defied belief.

Bombing the start, he was tailed off and for most of the race was not even in the video picture.

Making a closing charge from the 400m after chasing the field, somehow, the gelding was able to finish as the runner-up with Chris Barsby’s call summing up the situation when he exclaimed “Oh. My. God.”

Arnold would not start again until May of 2019 when returning and making another error.

With just three starts in that campaign, he was again sent to the paddock.

Returning in February 2020, he raced on two occasions for trainer Brad Connelly, but with Brad stepping away from training, was transferred to Nathan Dawson.

April 9 2020, Arnold scored his first Australian victory when overcoming a 50-metre handicap and seemingly trotting much cleaner than his previous six starts to win a mid-week event at Albion Park.

Placing at his next three in succession before recording another victory, Arnold was then up to his old tricks when making errors at his next two starts.

That signalled a change, and Nieuwenberg opted to send the six-year-old to the all-conquering Craig Cross stable in New South Wales.

Always showing the talent, Cross has been able to get Arnold trotting cleanly and soon claimed three successive victories.

That paved the way for a return to Brisbane and tackling the newly established Group 2 Trotters Sprint, Arnold with Luke McCarthy in the bike proved superior to their rivals.

Leading throughout in a 1.55.8 mile-rate, it was two years and four days since that first appearance at The Creek when he somehow finished second.

Arnold has arrived and with his abilities unlocked, the future looks bright.

 

THIS WEEK

The Albion Park portion of the Sumer Carnival has concluded, however a full week of harness action in Queensland starts Monday.

For seven straight days, there will be race meetings across the South-East, starting with a Monday night meeting from Redcliffe.

The Peninsula Club will host the regular Wednesday and Thursday meetings to complement the Monday addition.

Marburg will close the week with a Sunday afternoon meeting, where heats of the always popular Marburg to Albion Series will be conducted.

Albion Park joins the action via the Tuesday afternoon fixture and weekend racing on Friday and Saturday nights.

The Saturday night card includes the Christmas Cup for Open Class pacers over 2,680 metres and the Trotters Christmas Cup - a discretionary handicap over 2,647 metres.

 

Darren Clayton.

for Racing Queensland

Comment (...) Tweet Share Email Print

Read More News About...

Stallion Name

Next article: