Day At The Track

Shane Graham's purple patch rolls on

04:33 PM 21 Dec 2020 NZDT
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Shane Graham, Harness racing
Shane Graham's little lucky charms are working a treat tonight as they help him celebrate the win of the Vicki Rasmussen trained One Change in the Christmas Cup
Dan Costello photo

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

THE GOOD

Shane Graham has continued his great form since returning to the sulky mid-year and on Saturday showed the type of form that took him to the Australian Drivers title back in 2014/15.

With just six drives for the night, Graham was on target, scoring a quartet of victories.

Starting the night with a swooping victory aboard Chevrons Reward, the win made it successive victories behind the mare following her smart win just one week prior.

The second triumph came in the feature race of the night, the Christmas Cup, when taking advantage of the situation after Colt Thirty One did not have the hustle to hold the lead from barrier 1.

Driving One Change for trainer Vicki Rasmussen, the colt was sent forward to take control of the race after 350m and from the front Graham was able to dictate terms.

With a sharp 28.1 second opening split over the long 2,680-metre distance, he backed it off through the second split before dialling it up to run home the closing 800 metres in 28.4 and 27.4.

It was a deserved win for One Change after placings in the Be Good Johnny Sprint and Queensland Cup, preceding a fifth in the Group 1 Blacks A Fake.

Graham’s next winner came in race six, once again combining with Charlie Cini, aboard the four-year-old gelding Straddie.

Having partnered Straddie to success in the Bill Dixon last week, the pair were back at it, this time leading all the way to a comfortable seven-metre victory.

With his final drive coming in the eighth event, Graham had to call on all his skill and guile to get Lenny The Legend home.

Looking in all sorts of trouble when positioned three back on the pegs and the leader started to wilt, Shane somehow found space to angle into open air.

With Nathan Dawson looking to have pinched enough of a break with a back-straight charge aboard Sir Julian, Shane and Lenny set out for a stretch pursuit.

With plenty of speed to call on after being given an easy run, Lenny The Legend finished over the top for a smart win, his third this season with Shane Graham at the helm.

 

THE BAD

Gasmonkey claimed his 20th career victory on Friday at Albion Park, in a result that left many punters reeling.

While the case can be made that it was a bad result for those that backed the beaten favourite - the $1.70 Blissfulday - those that took the big odds on Gasmonkey would be on great terms with themselves with Christmas approaching.

Hindsight and retrospectively looking is something that many punters wish they could add into their pre-race assessments and this win likely falls into that category.

Looking deeper into the form of the Mark Dux-trained seven-year-old, and he certainly looked well-placed after meeting some stronger opponents in recent starts.

Dropping back in grade, the diminutive gelding was also suited by the small field, making a closing challenge under the urgings of Angus Garrard to claim a narrow victory.

Stepping out for his 150th race start, Gasmonkey took his record to 20 wins and 37 minor placings for the long-time Dux stable clients.

Further, 19 of those victories have been for Dux and the current owners after purchasing the then two-year-old back in mid-2015 after four career starts that included a win on debut.

Some much-needed winning confidence could be just the tonic for Gasmonkey as he continues past the 150 mark.

 

THE MILESTONE

Chevrons Reward has been in superb form since joining the Charlie Cini stable and the mare continued that purple patch on Saturday night.

The five-year-old settled midfield from her second line gate, as Ideal World put the power on to find the front, before continuing to keep the speed on throughout.

When Shane Graham angled Chevrons Reward wider on the track, the mare let down strongly and sprinted hard to arrive for victory by a neck margin.

The clock stopped in a 1.51.4 mile-rate and this time has equalled a benchmark that is now jointly owned by three mares.

Chevrons Reward joins the two retired mares - Annika Magic and Jossie James - as joint holders of the title as the fastest winning mares around the 1,000-metre track.

Annika Magic held the record outright for just one week back in mid-2019 when claiming victory in the Ladyship Stakes.

Jossie James equalled the rate just seven days later, with the pair jointly owning the record until Saturday night.

The victory claimed Chevrons Reward fourth win from just six starts under the care of Charlie Cini.

All four victories have come from tough barriers as the mare has shown explosive speed in the closing stages of her races on each occasion.

 

THE WILDCARD

Boomchuckalucka!

It is a name that endears itself to a closely fought finish, or a powerful run out in front, scoring victory and the caller being able to exclaim Boomchuckalucka.

In the case of the four-year-old gelding trained by Chantal Turpin with this same name, it was an all the way first-up victory in Queensland that we were able to hear his name.

After trialling impressively in readiness for his first start in Australia and first since June 2019, the gelding led throughout in claiming a four-and-a-half metre victory.

Sent straight to the front by Pete McMullen, the result never looked in danger as they completed the 1,660-metre trip in a smart 1.55.4-mile rate.

The ownership interests in the gelding are also capable of providing their own Boomchuckalucka moments in their chosen fields.

Jake Turpin has cemented his position in the Brisbane Broncos NRL team over the past 2 two seasons and having enjoyed the ride with Mattgregor, has convinced one of his team-mates to join the excitement of horse ownership.

Kotoni Staggs, a free running outside back with the Broncos, had the prefect introduction to owning a standardbred - a winner at his first start with his first horse.

Staggs was trackside to see Boomchuckalucka win and would be hopeful his goal kicking percentage was the same 100% strike rate.

David Garratt, a distinguished Brisbane-based lawyer has joined the Broncos pair in the gelding.

No stranger to winning cases in the courtroom, he now boasts a win at The Creek.

Karen Turpin, mother of Chantal and Jake is the fourth in the quartet of owners and has some impressive talent in her ‘ownership barn’ with the likes of Millwood Tilly, Dance In The Sun and Mattgregor.

 

THIS WEEK

Christmas Day falling on Friday will see a tweaked racing schedule this week.

Albion Park will have just the two meetings this week - Tuesday and Saturday night - while Redcliffe will play host to meetings in the normal Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon slots.

The Wednesday meeting is a strong 10-race card where the curtain will come down on the Queensland Summer Harness Racing Carnival.

The Redcliffe Christmas Cup is the highlight of the night with a capacity field to do battle, with Clintal Do - who draws barrier 8 - backing up from the Group 1 Blacks A Fake.

Other support features include the newly introduced Redcliffe Guineas where Targaryen will look to extend his unbeaten streak in Queensland to three following successive Albion Park victories.

The Burwood Stud Two-Year-Old Feature may only have a small field of six, however shapes as an intriguing contest.

Redcliffe Sales Final winner Manila Playboy looks hard to beat while Regina Elena - a winner of her past two starts - has been given a chance to ‘dip her toe’ against some experienced performers.

 

Darren Clayton

for Racing Queensland

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