Day At The Track

Marburg Easter magic from the Eagle

12:09 PM 06 Apr 2021 NZST
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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

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