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Queensland harness racing fixer Barton Cockburn has been warned off for life from all race tracks in the state. In a Brisbane court on Wednesday, 28-year-old Cockburn was fined $5000 after pleading guilty to three charges of match fixing at the Albion Park Paceway in November 2016. The driver-trainer was one of three people charged with match fixing offences in April this year by detectives from the Queensland Racing Crime Squad after an investigation of match fixing allegations in the harness racing industry. On Friday, Queensland Racing Integrity Commissioner Ross Barnett announced he had cancelled Cockburn's license and advised him he had been warned off for life from all race tracks in Queensland. "Mr Cockburn's warning off applies to all three codes of racing – thoroughbreds, harness and greyhounds," Barnett said. "The prosecution of Mr Cockburn should sound a clear warning to anyone wanting to undermine the integrity of racing in Queensland that there will be serious consequences." QRIC warns about severe bans for fixing Participants in Queensland's three racing codes have been put on notice they face severe bans if they engage in match-fixing. Queensland Racing Integrity Commission boss Ross Barnett said harness driver Barton Cockburn, who pleaded guilty to match-fixing charges in the Magistrates Court last week, had been warned off for life. The ban means Cockburn can't attend any racetrack in the world. "Cockburn's warning off applies to all three codes of racing, thoroughbreds, harness and greyhounds," Barnett said. "The prosecution of Cockburn should sound a clear warning to anyone wanting to undermine the integrity of racing in Queensland that there will be serious consequences." Cockburn was one of three people charged with match-fixing offences in April this year after the Racing Crime Squad investigated match fixing allegations in the harness racing industry. He was fined $5000 with no conviction recorded. Barnett said the addition of two more full-time investigators to the RCS would bolster the commission's commitment to integrity.

He was one of the state's best harness racing drivers, but Barton Louis Cockburn is unlikely to race anytime soon after pleading guilty to three match fixing charges. The Crown said Barton's dishonest dabble undermined confidence in the sport, and prison was an option for him. But the Toowoomba man's lawyer claimed a "fine line” separated gamesmanship from match-fixing in the tight knit industry. At Brisbane Magistrates Court on Wednesday, Cockburn, 28, pleaded guilty to three charges. One related to having knowledge of a match-fixing arrangement at a Brisbane race on November 4 last year. He was charged with sharing knowledge of that arrangement with Michael Kevin Grant. The court heard Mr Grant had already faced three charges and was fined $1300. Cockburn also arranged a fix at Albion Park Harness Racing Club in order to benefit from prize money. And he pleaded guilty to arranging another fix at Albion Park last November in order to get prize money to a third man, Dayl Raymond March. One of the charges related to Cockburn allegedly using a phone call to discuss how to affect the outcome of a race with another driver. Cockburn had no prior criminal history. The court heard the St Mary's College graduate from the class of 2006 followed family tradition by going into the sport. By 2012, Cockburn was in the top-three bracket of Queensland drivers for the season, and the leading 15 nationally. Defence lawyer Andrew Hanlon said it was not unusual for competing drivers to discuss tactics before races. "This is precisely the situation in harness racing in Queensland.” Mr Hanlon said in many races, there might be two or three horses with a real chance of winning and "the rest of them generally there to quite literally make up the numbers.” He said a lifetime of long-term ban from the sport was very likely for his client, who was remorseful and did not deserve jail. The defence lawyer said the money involved was at the "very very low end” and in one of the the fixed races, the driver only received about $350. The charges Cockburn faced carried maximum jail terms of ten years but Cockburn's guilty pleas earned him some credit. He was fined $5000. No conviction was recorded. By John Weekes Reprinted with permission of The Fraser Coast Chronicle

The harness racing race-fixing scandal has widened, with authorities identifying at least two more allegedly fixed races. Police will allege harness trainer-driver Bart Cockburn, 27, who was charged with four race-fixing offences, was involved in a fix in three separate races from November last year, all at Brisbane’s Albion Park. Cockburn was alleged to have participated in a fix on November 12 last year, when fellow driver-trainer Dayl March was also alleged to have been involved in an organised race result. March was charged with the race-fixing offence under the Queensland Criminal Code earlier in the week. It is understood while both March and Cockburn colluded to win the race on November 12, neither were able to pull off the alleged fix. The Sunday Mail understands Cockburn’s charges also relate to a November 5 race in which he drove the fourth-placed Marty Bee, and a January 27, 2017, race in which he came second on Major Kiwi. Authorities say the alleged fixing charges did not always mean the accused was attempting to win the race. Queensland Racing Integrity Commissioner Ross Barnett indicated there would be more charges to follow in the coming weeks as the investigation into the fixed races continues to evolve. “This is an emerging picture,” he said. “As we talk to more people and arrest more people, it will deepen our understanding of what is going on in the industry. “Other people will be interviewed and potentially charged in the coming days and weeks.” Part of the police investigation now and in the future will focus on betting activity that has accompanied the alleged fixing activity, where it may have occurred through either legal or illegal methods. Bart Cockburn placed 5th in the 2015-16 drivers’ premiership race, steering home 100 winners in his 676 starts. He amassed a total of more than $870,000 prize money for connections over the premiership season. By Trenton Akers Reprinted with permission of The Courier-Mail

Harness racing trainer Shannon Price is talking tough.“We will lead”. Price declared.Following the barrier draw yesterday (Tuesday) for Saturday night’s Gr.2 $50,000 Garrards Sunshine Sprint at Albion Park, the Logan Reserve conditioner showed her hand early.The Price trained Ultimate Art has been the form horse in Brisbane in recent times, since being switched from the stables of Ellalong horseman Mick Formosa to Price at the start of the year, the former Group One winner has regained the fire in the belly. To date, Ultimate Art has won 9 of his 12 starts which includes a streak of eight in a row.The Modern Art entire was aiming for nine straight before tasting defeat in the Gr.3 $30,000 Lucky Creed on June 18 against Avonnova when he was crossed from the inside gate. He has since bounced back into the winner’s circle with his all the way victory last week in the Listed $25,000 Mr Feelgood defeating dual Queensland Horse of the Year in Avonnova. “He has a little habit when he scores up and he got the timing all wrong which placed Bart (Cockburn – driver) at a disadvantage, that’s the reason he couldn’t muster that night. He proved last week he has the necessary speed to lead and that’s our aim this week. “Sure there’s some speedy types drawn on his outside but I don’t think they can cross, he’ll be given a strong warm-up and he’ll be focused. We’re really happy with the way he’s improved his gate speed since being up here and that comes from the hard style of racing that Brisbane produces, he would’ve been no chance of leading a field like this when he first arrived. “During his win streak we started thinking the Sunshine Sprint would be a great race for him, he was winning and running unbelievable times and that made us think he might be capable of breaking the track record if he drew to lead. Our aim is to win but the track record could be another bonus.” Champion Perth pacer Im Themightyquinn holds the track record at 1:50.4; he set the mark when he scored in this race back in 2014.Since that night, no horse has gone remotely close to breaking the record.In fact, no horse has even broken into the 1:50 time zone at the famous Breakfast Creek 1000m oval. While Price is confident of leading, she is fearful of the second-line runners with New Zealand star Christen Me drawn directly on the back of Ultimate Art while last start Gr.1 Len Smith Mile winner Hectorjayjay has drawn gate 10, three off the second-line. “Given how even races are nowadays, being on the inside gives your horse a massive advantage and Christen Me is going to secure a perfect trip in transit. He needed the run badly first-up a few weeks back and he’ll be a much sharper prospect this week, and next week for that matter. “Hectorjayjay is a special animal and he’s got my full attention, his point to point speed is like nothing else and he wasn’t draw dependent like most others in this race. He’ll be wide at some stage but if he’s within distance, he could still get over the top of everyone. “While I respect all my rivals, they’re the two horses I fear the most in this race this weekend. We haven’t seen a race like this for some time at Albion Park, even when Blacks A Fake was racing it didn’t produce the build up like this race has but Blackie was just better than everything else. I can’t wait; I’m excited to be part of it.” Mick and Kirsty Formosa will travel up to watch their pride and joy compete over the next week, taking in a family holiday on the Gold Coast while venturing to the track to cheer loudly for the horse affectionately known as ‘Thomas’. And they’ll provide plenty of his favourite treats win, lose or draw – licorice bites. Chris Barsby

The 2016 Racing Queensland UBET winter carnival is fast approaching and in the coming weeks, Queensland harness broadcaster Chris Barsby will profile a number of major players vying for the top prizes. With 18 Black Type races on the program for the 2016 Winter Carnival, the carnival’s pinnacle in 2016 is the G1 Blacks A Fake, which now boasts an impressive $200,000 in stakes. The carnival spans from May 28 to July 30. The first horse in profile is: Name: Ultimate Art Stable Name: Thomas Age: 6yo gelding Owner: Kirsty Formosa Trainer: Shannon Price & Scott Miller Driver: Bart Cockburn Prizemoney: $405,263 Biggest win: Gr.1 Bathurst Gold Crown – Inter Dominion heat (Menangle) Target: $50,000 Sunshine Sprint (July 9) & $200,000 Blacks A Fake (July 16) Trainer says: "This is the best horse we have ever trained; he’s such a top line athlete. He’s fast, extremely strong and very determined plus a perfect horse to do anything with. His form is super and the winter carnival is the main priority headlined by the Gr.1 Blacks A Fake". Barsby says: "Right now, Ultimate Art is the form horse of Queensland harness racing and looks a legitimate threat to any interstate or New Zealand raider bound for the carnival. It doesn’t matter if the race is a sprint affair or a staying contest; he’s equally effective at both distances. Importantly, his gate speed has improved markedly since racing consistently at Albion Park which is a dangerous sign for his rivals". Harness Racing Australia

The harness racing favourites displayed their class in the QBRED Triad Finals at Albion Park last Saturday night. A pair of Gr.1 $100,000 finals was held for the three-year-olds and the results didn’t shock anyone with classy colt A Good Chance breaking through for a well-deserved triumph in the colts and geldings final while stablemates Bettor Promise and Bettorthanspecial fought out the finish in the fillies final. Sent off at odds of $1.30, A Good Chance speared straight to the front in the 2138m feature and was perfectly rated in front by his driver Chris Petroff before kicking clear heading off the back straight. In the home straight, A Good Chance held off a determined finish from Drifting Away to score by a half neck margin while Duke Jujon took inside to grab third some ten metres away. The mile rate was 1;57.5 with his final mile covered in splits of 31.5, 29.9 27.7 and 28.7 seconds. A Good Chance is raced by Maureen Smith while prepared by her husband Donny. The Mr Feelgood – Chance The Walk colt has amassed more than $155,000. In the fillies’ final, the Shannon Price trained Bettor Promise and Bettorthanspecial were expected to fight out the finish and it went to script. Almost. Bettorthanspecial was the best backed runner and started the favourite at $1.60 while Bettor Promise started at odds of $2.60 but it was the latter that led throughout to score in the feature event. Bettor Promise, handled by Bart Cockburn proved too strong defeating Bettorthanspecial while Feel The Faith ran an excellent third after working hard throughout. The mile rate was 1;57.0 with the final mile covered in splits of 29.1, 30.7, 29.2 and 28.5 seconds. The Price fillies repeated their efforts of last season with a top two finish in the Triad Final after Bettorthanspecial beat Bettor Promise but this season was a reverse result. The Bettor's Delight – As Promised filly has now banked more than $158,000. In the Gr.2 $50,000 QBRED Triad Final 4yo Mares Final, race favourite Joys A Babe proved too classy defeating Il Cavalino and Charming Allie in a time of 1;58.8 for the 2138m. Despite being crossed at the start by Il Cavalino, trainer/driver Grant Dixon quickly worked around to re-take the lead and put the event beyond doubt after scoring comfortably at the finish by 3.5 metres. The Art Major – Joy To Behold mare has built up a fine record for her owner/breeders Kevin and Kay Seymour and the victory pushed her earning past $200,000. Joys A Babe has won 16 of her 27 starts to date. In the 4yo entires and geldings final, Mafuta Vautin justified his favoritism ($1.40) when he led throughout defeating Raring To Go and The Duke Downunder. Mafuta Vautin recorded a time of 1;56.7 while running his final mile in splits of 31.1, 29.7, 28.9 and 28.6 seconds. Handled by young New Zealand born reinsman Adam Sanderson for trainer Darrel Graham, the Rollon Bigred – Ashleysplace gelding made a clean sweep of the QBRED features this term after taking the Breeders Classic earlier this season. Bred and raced by Albion Park committeeperson Linda Graham, Mafuta Vautin has now won 11 of his 15 starts with earnings approaching $100,000. Racing Queensland

Goldplay will be back to defend her Golden Guitar title at the Tamworth on Friday night. The $25,000 feature is part of the Carnival of Cups, with Goldplay easily winning her heat last night. “It was a nice hit out for her” said trainer and reinsman Bart Cockburn, who trains Goldplay for the Solid Earth syndicate. “It was a good pipe cleaner” After setting a track record to take out the feature last year, Goldplay ha an easier time of things this time around. The daughter of Presidential Ball rated 1:59 for the 1980 metres to score by 13 metres from The Muse, with Wake Up Quinn six-and-a-half metres away third. With six heats conducted Happyever Laughter opened the books with an all the way win in the opening qualifier for Riverstone trainer Dwayne Sarina and reinsman Josh Willick. “Hopefully he finds the right alley in the final,” Willick said. The Shane Tritton stable will be looking for a good draw as well after Bien Hoa led throughout with Lauren Panella in the spider. “He is a nice horse and the barrier helped,” Panella said. Tritton is no stranger to the Golden Guitar glory, with Mach Beauty taking the title in 2013. Tangles then stepped out for the Nathan Hurst stable, and made it consecutive wins for the five-year-old mare after taking out the The Pub Group Competitive Stakes on Wednesday evening. Tangles scored by a half-head over Marquez, with Franco Seville a neck away third.  Dubbo pacer Tommy Tuppence then took out the fourth heat when accounting for Better Than Max and Ultimate Ace. Hurst took the drive behind Tommy Tuppence for Dubbo trainer Peter Reynolds, and at his first time behind the son of Ponder and Mirra Mirra. “It’s the first time I have driven the horse,” Hurst said. “He is a good strong, tough horse” Queensland trainer Trevor Lambourn was relieved after his pacer Paint The Hammer took out the fifth heat, a half-neck clear of Mister Chow, with Hear The Call four-and-a half metres away third in 2”00.3 “I am so excited to be in the Final,” Lambourn said. “They were doing the work up the front and I would love to win the Final.” HRNSW Media

Smart three-year-old Sky Major looks right on song for the upcoming Breeders Crown Series in Australia after downing a smart field of older rivals at Alexandra Park last night. The Art Major colt, who was having his first race start since his emphatic victory in the 3YO Emerald division of the Harness Jewels, was driven cold by Zac Butcher, sitting last before moving into the race three wide down the back straight. He then let down strongly in the home stretch to run down Cyamach, who looked home after kicking away at the top of lane. Beyond The Silence finish a further half length away in third after enjoying a nice run in the trail. The Barry Purdon trained star paced the 2200 metre journey in a slick 2:43.3. The official last half was 56.5. However, Sky Major would have gone his last 800 metres a lot quicker as he came from a long way off the pace. The dual Jewels winner, who won a walkover heat of the Breeders’ Crown at Cambridge last week, will now head to Australia to compete in an MO at Melton on the 8th of August before tackling the 3YO Breeders Crown semi finals on August 22. All going well he well then progress through to the rich Group One final on the 30th of August. Cyamach, who was good in second behind the speedy colt, is also likely to head to Australia for the four-year-old male division of the series, while Cambridge winners Field Marshall and Cyclone Kate will also be part of the ever-growing Kiwi contingent heading across the Tasman for the series. Meanwhile, star Australian three-year-old Bling It On, who was thought to be the main danger to Sky Major in the ABC 3yo colts and geldings division, suffered a shock loss to Kiwi export Alleluia in a two horse heat of the Breeders Crown at Albion Park last night and will now head to repechage on the 13th of August. After sitting second while Alleluia set a leisurely pace in front, driver Bart Cockburn set Bling It On a light at the 700 metres. The pair then eyeballed each other until the bend, but it was Alleluia who showed more dash in the straight, sprinting away for a 6 metre win. Alleluia paced his last 800 metres in a sizzling 54.8 with a final quarter of 26.3. Driver Bart Cockburn was questioned regarding his driving tactics on Bling It On when allowing Grant Dixon to go through the first half of the last mile in 68 seconds. Under rule 149 (1) he was suspended for a period of eight weeks. By Mitchell Robertson

Top New Zealand filly Ideal Belle has been scratched from her two-horse Australasian Breeders’ Crown heat at Alexandra Park tomorrow night and has been ruled out of the rich series by trainer Barry Purdon. The New Zealand Oaks winning filly, who would have been one of the favourites for the Group One 3YO fillies division, has suffered a leg injury after being caught in a fence at Purdon’s Clevedon property. The tall American Ideal filly, who showed she was right on song for the series with a smart workout last week, will now head to the spelling paddock. Her scratching means that the Geoff Small trained Zeta Bromac will get a walkover ABC heat win, as will Ideal Belle’s stablemate Sky Major who is still well on track for the 3YO colts and geldings division of the series. In other Breeders Crown news, the Tim Butt trained Field Marshal is set to arrive in Melbourne on August 6 in preparation for the ABC after qualifying in a one horse heat at Cambridge last week, while Katy Perry, who was defeated in her Cambridge heat by Joanne’s A Delight, is already in Australia and will compete in the Tatlow Stakes (Group Two) at Melton on Saturday before heading to a Breeders' Crown Repechage. Katy Perry is just one a strong contingent of Kiwi trained or owned horses that are seat to do battle in feature races across the Tasman this weekend. Others include Messini, Kept Under Wraps, Iceobar, Bettor Rock On, My Arya, Primz Luck, One Over Da Moon, Our Twentyten, and Daenerys Targaryen. However the two highlights of the weekend may come from champion Australian pacers Im Themightyquinn and Smoken Up. ‘Trigger’ (Smoken Up) is set to have his last start in New South Wales at Menangle on Saturday and his trainer-driver Lance Justice is expecting a big performance, while ‘Quinny’, who will be reunited with Gary Hall Jnr, will battle it out with Mach Beauty, Suave Stuey Lombo, and Avonnova for Group One glory in the Blake’s A Fake at Albion Park on Saturday. After much talk about drivers leading into the race, Lauren Panella has decided to stick with Mach Beauty, while Bart Cockburn, who has been sacked from Avonnova after his interesting drive in the Sunshine Sprint, will take the reins behind Suave Stuey Lombo. Replacing Cockburn in the sulky behind Queensland star Avonnova is Shane Graham, who was victorious in his only drive on the gelding. By Mitchell Robertson  

Bring on the Queensland winter carnival. That was the message following a super night of harness racing at Albion Park last night (Saturday) which boasted a cavalcade of stars. With the winter carnival officially starting on July 5, a great entrée was provided with features including the Gr.2 $50,000 Kevin &Kay Seymour Premiers Cups Final, the Gr.3 $30,000 TattsBet Gold Coast Oaks, the Gr.3 $35,000 QBRED Breeders Classic Finals and the Listed $15,000 Statewide Taxation Services Trotters Marathon. Another highlight was the appearance of Australia’s best three-year-old Bling It On. Staged for the first time at Albion Park, the Premiers Cup Final proved to be a survival of the fittest with Major Moment ($8.20) sprintlaning to beat a gallant Five Card Draw ($21.60) and Alleluia ($1.60 Fav). The 2647m standing start contest was loaded with action from the start with Major Moment leading from his prime draw but the moves soon followed with Alleluia, Slipaslygrin and Five Card Draw all taking off before the mile marker. Alleluia found the lead but gained no peace as Five Card Draw attacked on his outside, Major Moment who gained the perfect trail then used the passing lane to finish best from Five Card Draw and Alleluia. The time of 1;57.0 clearly smashed the track record which was previously held by Devil Dodger. The last mile was run in 1;54.9. It was a case of third time lucky for co-owner and Queensland Harness Racing Board member Greg Mitchell who has been a runner-up the two previous years with Only The Brave and Major Strike. The Gold Coast Oaks was dominated by brilliant filly Nike Franco who toyed with her rivals after working to the lead at the 1500m point of the 2138mcontest. Thereafter, the McArdle filly travelled kindly and was never threatened and scored comfortably defeating consistent fillies Beef City Safari and Freedom Is. The winning milerate was 1;56.2, just outside the race record of 1;56.0 set by Baby Bling in 2011. Recently taken over by Luke and Belinda McCarthy, the filly now heads to the Gr.1 $75,000 Queensland Oaks on July 12. The QBRED Breeders Classic Final for two-year-old fillies was taken out by Bettor Promise who led throughout to beat race favourite Feel The Faith and Bettorthanspecial. Prepared by Shannon Price and Scott Miller, the regally bred filly was rated perfectly in front by Brad Cowen and rated a career best time of 1;56.8. Bred by her owners, Tony and Katy Price, Bettor Promises ranks as a half-sister to former triple Oaks winner All Promises. In the colts and geldings Final, an inspiring drive from trainer/driver Donny Smith aboard A Good Chance saw him take the prize defeating a game Major Coup and Constantlysideways. Race favourite Mista Natural was crossed quickly at the start and Smith quickly followed through at the start before finding the lead before the end of the first quarter leaving the favourite to race without cover. The Mr Feelgood colt fought strongly in the straight and scored by a half head margin in a time of 1;58.7. Talented former Kiwi trotter Our Overanova maintained his unbeaten Queensland record with an all the way victory in the trotters marathon. The Grant Dixon trained and driven Monarchy gelding proved too strong holding out Goldstar Invasion and Its Three By Two in a time of 2;08.9 for the 3157m event. Our Overanova has won nine straight races and eight in Queensland since being purchased by Greg Mitchell. Boom pacer Bling It On didn’t disappoint his legion of fans with another effortless victory in the Knudsens Betta Home Living Pace. The American Ideal colt blasted home in splits of 27.7 and 27.4 seconds while recording a mile rate of 1;57.7. And the weekly $16,000 Seymour Rising Stars Championship Final was taken out by the Bart Cockburn prepared Miss Real in a time of 1;56.5. For further information regarding the Queensland winter carnival, contact either Racing Queensland or the Albion Park Harness Racing Club. by Chris Barsby

Avonnova is classic rags to riches harness racing story. The former Sydney pacer was claimed for a modest $20,000 amount last October before being transferred to Queensland where his meteoric rise continues at a rapid rate. During his twelve starts for new trainer Ian Gurney, the Art Major gelding has won seven including his last four on the bounce prompting connections to look at bigger targets. And a return trip to Sydney is on the cards. The Gr.1 $100,000 Len Smith Mile at TABCORP Park, Menangle on Sunday, April 27 will be his next start where he will tackle the likes of Inter Dominion/Miracle Mile hero Beautide, Victoria Cup winner For A Reason and Australasia’s fastest pacer Smoken Up among others. The steep rise in grade for Avonnova resembles more like The North Face of North Twin Peak in the Rocky Mountains. But the pacer who has quickly established himself as one of the best in the Sunshine State is worthy of an opportunity to box with the best. “When I first claimed this horse I wouldn’t have dreamed of taking him back to tackle the best pacers available but his form warrants an opportunity and we’re going to take it. His form is outstanding and the times back it up.” Gurney said. In his last two winning performances, Avonnova has created track record efforts at both Albion Park and Redcliffe. Last Saturday night, Avonnova started from the outside gate before racing wide in the early stages, eventually, he parked outside leader Destreos before sprinting clear over the concluding stages to win comfortably. The winning time of 1;54.4 eclipsed the previous Albion Park 2138m track record time of 1;54.5 set by Field Officer in last year’s Gold Coast Cup. “I don’t think I’m doing anything special with the horse but obviously he enjoys his new environment and routine. Maybe the warmer weather agrees with him up here. “I will say this about him; he’s the worst track worker I’ve ever had. I couldn’t believe how poorly he worked when he first arrived but eventually we worked each other out and we haven’t looked back. I like spacing his runs and he’s thriving under that routine and the Sydney feature fits in perfectly with his current system. “I’m not expecting to beat those top line pacers but I’d say if he drew well and secured a trouble free run, he could easily run a place on his current form. It’s a massive step-up in class but his wins have been full of authority lately and the times are on the board.” Gurney has confirmed that young gun Bart Cockburn will commute to Sydney to partner the gelding who races unhoppled. “Bart will be definitely taking the drive in Sydney, I’m sure he will be fighting them off with a big stick to retain the drive. “With the race being on a Sunday, it doesn’t interfere with his book of drives at Albion Park on the Saturday night. Obviously they get on well with each other so it would be crazy to change what we have going currently.” Another former Sydney pacer in Miysis will make the return trip with Avonnova early next week. by Chris Barsby (Courtesy of Harness Racing Australia)

Leading reinsman Mathew Neilson has registered another century season. Neilson posted the milestone moment with a driving double on Tuesday afternoon at Albion Park when successful aboard the Peter Donohoe trained He Gets It and the Shawn Grimsey prepared Pacific Cruza. It becomes the eighth season where Neilson has driven more than 100 winners. During the 2001/02 season Neilson registered his maiden century with a total of 113 while his biggest haul came during the 2002/03 season when he landed his first double century with 204 winners. With his tally currently sitting at 101 for this term, he finds himself second on the Queensland statewide premiership table behind dynamic junior driver Narissa McMullen who has a total of 103 winners to date. McMullen, a third generation horseperson has been in tremendous form this season which includes multiple victories in New South Wales but is currently serving a two week suspension. On Inter Dominion Grand Final day (March 2) at TABCORP Park, Menangle, McMullen landed an all-the-way victory aboard the Peter Walsh trained Essbee Doubleyou in the Gr.2 $50,000 Lexus International Lady Drivers Invitational. The battle between McMullen and Neilson in the final months of the season should be enthralling. “It’s nice to reach that figure again but I’ve just got to keep improving on it, there’s still a long way to go this season with several good drivers competing.” Neilson said. The lightweight driver is now preparing his own team of horses after splitting with leading conditioner Grant Dixon earlier this year and has recently invested in a new property at Toorbul, north of Brisbane where he will expand on his stable. Other Queensland based drivers close to registering century seasons include Grant Dixon, Pete McMullen, Shane Graham and Bart Cockburn. Another milestone moment from Tuesday’s meeting arrived for rookie horseman Hayden Barnes, who prepared his first winner as a trainer when Alberts Flight proved too strong for his rivals in the New Farm TAB Pace in a time of 1;55.5. Barnes prepares the son of Flight N Irish for James McDonogh. Currently employed by Chantal Turpin and Pete McMullen, Barnes previously spent time with Darrel Graham along with his father Al. Barnes has driven 9 career winners to date. By Chris Barsby (Courtesy of Harness Racing Australia)

It was night to remember for harness racing driver Bart Cockburn. The likable young Queensland horseman achieved his first driving quartet last night at Albion Park, on a metropolitan program. Cockburn, 24, landed the $20,000 Seymour Rising Stars Championship Final aboard the Stuart Hunter trained Holme On The River followed by the open class event with Avonnova for Ian Gurney while he prepared a double himself with Numberone Amenophis and Valiant Sue. “On paper I thought I had a strong book of drives but you can never be so sure of how things will play out, fortunately, everything panned out really well and I got the right results. It’s special to win four races at any meeting but to do it on our main meet of the week is extra special.” Cockburn said. A third generation horseman, Cockburn has enjoyed strong success since venturing out on his own two years ago after stints with the Darrel Graham and Grant Dixon stables. Based at the former property of John McCarthy at Logan Village, Cockburn has a team of twenty in work but is always looking to upgrade and improve his quality of stock. Star trotter Supper Waltz Wilson has proven to be the best performer for Cockburn to date but handy types like So You Think, Valiant Sue, My Hayley Robyn and more recently Franco Jamar have added strength to his stable. “Although Franco Jamar is yet to fire in two starts to date for me, I’m hopeful I can get him back on track and displaying his best ability. “He was diagnosed with a lung infection after he failed in the Christmas Cup at Redcliffe last start, it will be touch and go for the Inter Dominion heat at Albion next month but we’ll be working around the clock to have him ready for it. “It’s all part of the experience, you never stop learning in this game and Franco Jamar is testament to that. I’m really happy with the way my team is building currently, I’ve had a recent influx of new stock come into the stables which is exciting and hopefully they can all do a good job.” Recent additions include the likes of Ohoka Du Nord, Christian Ruler, True Desire, Fletch Davis and former Kiwi mare Goldplay. The latter proving to be an impressive first-up winner at Albion Park earlier this week. “I really like this mare and her effort was very sharp the other day, good sized mare that covers the ground nicely and with good speed. “I’m looking at the Golden Guitar series at Tamworth with her in the coming weeks, it’s a race that fits her schedule nicely and she should prove hard to beat around that track. “This mare gives the impression she will adapt anywhere she goes, I believe she has ability to charge right through to her metro grades.” In the meantime, Cockburn is on track to better his tally of 133 driving winners from last season as he currently sits on 52 this season. Cockburn is currently fifth in both the Queensland statewide trainers and driver’s premiership.   by Chris Barsby

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