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Catch up on the week’s harness racing action in our weekly review, thanks to Darren Clayton.   THE GOOD Angus Garrard has had one of his most successful weeks in the sport, landing multiple wins at three successive meetings last week. The run started at Redcliffe on Wednesday night with a winning double aboard the Doug Lee-trained Illawong Dreamtime and Barboo for Charlie Chiang. The Christmas eve meeting - again at The Triangle - saw Angus go one better than the previous evening when scoring a threepeat of victories. His first winner for the day came with Fortyfive Rock, a pacer that was winless after 43 career starts. Garrard has now had ten drives on the gelding for three wins and two minors. Go Anne Go was the second triumph, with the Gary Gerard-trained mare charging home from the rear of the field to claim victory. The treble was complete when Blues Terror - having its first start in Queensland - was successful in race eight for trainer Donny Smith. Angus only had two other drives outside of his winners, placing third in both. Heading to headquarters for what looked on paper a strong book of drives, the results backed up that early assessment. In claiming his third metropolitan treble in his fledgling career, it was trainer Donny Smith that provided the first winner of the night. That win was courtesy of Letterkenny Boy, a pacer Garrard has now partnered to five victories. Picking up a nice catch-drive for the Craig Cross stable in the seventh, Lets Katchmeifucan proved that the field could not, scoring a start-to-finish win. The treble was completed with a well-timed and patient drive aboard the star filly Pelosi, charging home wide off the track to score. In just his first full season of driving, Angus has broken into the top 20 nationally, sitting behind 174 wins in the extended season. Listing the treble of wins at his first ever Metropolitan meeting back in June as a season highlight, the young reinsman has had many memorable wins already. Landing four wins for the term aboard the excitement machine Speech Is Silver also ranks highly, purely for the acceleration and speed he can deliver at the end of his races. Arguably one of the most impressive wins for the season for Angus came aboard The Bus at Albion Park back in September. Caught three-wide throughout, it was a composed drive and looming up in the stretch, Garrard was able to coax enough out of the entire to score a win against the odds. The call by Chris Barsby complemented the triumph, as he proclaimed “The Bus reaches the lead, he has the Go-Card stamped tonight, The Bus - that’s a monster victory”. Driving with poise and balance beyond his years, Angus will also claim a unique record in Queensland for the season. Five tracks have hosted TAB meetings in Queensland this season and just one driver has been able to win at least one race at all five - Angus Garrard.   THE BAD Bad injuries are never easy for any human to manage, and athletes can often find it even harder in the pursuit of returning to their chosen endeavour. When those injuries belong to an equine athlete, the job of a trainer can become testing, stressful and even harder to manage. Secretagent Tycoon has faced a string of injury setbacks in his career, but trainer Ryan Veivers has been able to convert the bad into something special. A broken hip and two bowed tendons have meant long stints on the sideline, however with a patient attitude and a steady approach, Secretagent Tycoon is on the cusp of breaking into the open class ranks. Progressing through the grades, the rising eight-year-old is now one win off becoming a Band 1-rated horse in Queensland and thus a free-for-all competitor. The latest victory for the gelding on Saturday night was against many horses that are already in the open ranks, with the likes of Fame Assured, Mattgregor, Northview Hustler and recent Queensland Cup winner Cruz all finishing behind the gelding. Sent straight to the front over the 2,138-metre distance, Secretagent Tycoon proved too strong up front in claiming victory, his eighth win when partnered by Dannielle - now the wife of Ryan Veivers. Stepping out for Ryan for the first time back in July 2019, the rangy chestnut has now had 33 starts for 12 wins and 7 placings under his care, amassing just shy of $85,000 in stakes in that period. Owned by Karen Burrows, he is now within striking range of $100,000 in earnings and after his win on Saturday, and it looks a case of when, not if, he can breakthrough that figure.   THE MILESTONE Chris Petroff has achieved plenty in the sport; 1000 plus career driving wins, six Group 1 victories and countless feature race wins. However, in November 2018, it was time for a break and Chris stepped away from the sport. Harness racing is one contagious beast and like it has done to so many people before, it was able to lure another back to the bright lights of the racetrack. Enter Grant Dixon, the country’s leading trainer who knew the talent and experience Petroff could bring to the sulky, and soon the comeback was in motion. Pulling the silks back on under race conditions for the first time in 754 days, Chris was able to steer the Dixon-trained Tajie Baby to third placing at his first drive back. Just two days later with the first night of the Summer Carnival underway, linking with the Dixon stable meant that drives were available in the feature racing. While a comeback victory was proving elusive, the placings were starting to build. Finally, on Redcliffe Christmas Cup night, the present was delivered when Chris Petroff was able to bounce back for his first victory back in the sulky. Courtesy of an all the way win to Madamoiselle Jujon, 27 days following his first drive and 848 days since last tasting a race victory, the comeback was complete. With that monkey off the back, expect to see C A Petroff more regularly in the winner’s enclosure.   THE WILDCARD With the extended racing season closing this Wednesday night, one horse will end the term with a unique achievement. In the past season, TAB rated meetings have been held on five tracks through Queensland - Albion Park, Redcliffe Marburg, Kilcoy and Warwick. There are several horses that have competed on all five tracks, however Montana Chief stands alone with victories on four of the five and finishing runner-up at the fifth. Trained by Adam Sanderson, Stephanie Graham and Darrel Graham throughout the season, the four-year-old ends the term with the figures of 66: 9-11-7 and stakes of $55,509 for his owner Will Jones. Drivers at the reins for the wins were Brittany Graham (3), Adam Sanderson (2), Trent Lethaby (2) and Angus Garrard (2). The first win of the 2019/20 season came with an Albion Park success on September 30, 2019 and was followed four days later by another win at The Creek. Montana Chief scored his first Redcliffe victory for the season on December 11, 2019 and again showed an appreciation for the quick back-up when claiming a qualifying victory just three days later. Marburg was next on the hitlist for the Chief, scoring there on October 25, 2020, with his next victory coming at Kilcoy on Sunday November 29. The Kilcoy win made it success at all four tracks that had conducted TAB meetings until that point of the season. Heading to Warwick - the fifth track - victory in the Warwick Pacing Cup would have completed the set, however Our Major Day proved too strong on the day as Montana Chief scored a respectable second placing. A consistent performer throughout his career, Montana Chief will also bring up the milestone of 100 starts when he next steps out.   THIS WEEK Following the extension to the racing season to coincide with the calendar year, this week will see the 2019/20 term close. Racing for the final week of the season starts with 8 races to be held on the grass at Kilcoy. Although field sizes are thin, the races look competitive with the club also running a heat and final series for the first time. Those progressing out of the heats will do battle at Kilcoy on Monday January 25 in the Final where the $8,170 stakes will be the largest prizemoney ever offered in Queensland grass track racing. The remainder of the week will see Albion Park hosting the regular Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday slots. The last day of the current season ends with Redcliffe hosting the Thursday afternoon meeting. With last season starting at The Creek on a Monday, the 2020/21 Season will again at Albion Park as they play host to a night meeting this Friday.   Darren Clayton for Racing Queensland

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

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. Click here to view all the action from Albion Park on November 28 Click here to view all the action from Albion Park on December 5 Click here to view all the action from Albion Park on December 12   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

Catch up on the week’s harness racing action in our weekly review, thanks to Darren Clayton. THE GOOD Leonard Cain made a successful homecoming last week, steering seven winners in two days at Albion Park. All seven winners were trained by Craig Cross, with the stable landing a treble on Friday before striking with a quartet of winners on Saturday night. Friday’s winners were Franco Hampton, Oaxacan Dream and Lets Katchmeifucan. The stable dominated Saturday night with Cruz, Balraj and No Win No Feed all claiming feature races, capped off by Mister Donald, who was successful in a Band 5 event. Cruz picked up where he left off from his winter campaign, taking out the Group 2 Queensland Cup when leading throughout over a gallant Colt Thirty One, claiming his sixth victory at The Creek with the win. Sent straight to the front, Cain dictated the pace perfectly and was able to sprint home the closing quarter in a slippery 26.9 seconds, making it almost impossible for the chasers. Stablemate Balraj landed an off the canvas victory when successful in the Ted & Edna Badcock Memorial 4YO Championship. Sitting outside the leader L L Cool J, he was under pressure swinging for home where Cain had to get busy on the gelding. Responding to Cain’s urgings, Balraj was able to lift himself and arrive in time to claim victory by a head margin over Escalera, with L L Cool J hanging on for third. The third of the feature races to go the way of the Cain/Cross combo was the Forever Gold Mares with No Win No Feed. Fresh from her victory in the Group 2 Breeders Crown Final at Melton, the daughter of A Rocknroll Dance was never in danger in scoring an all the way two-metre victory over Georgie Martin. All three winners will be nominated for the Blacks A Fake, where they will face a showdown against the number one seed from their own barn. King Of Swing will be heading north this week for the Grand Circuit event, with the reigning Miracle Mile champion likely to prove extremely hard to beat. Cain will likely stick with Cruz for the Blacks A Fake, with Luke McCarthy also set for a homecoming of sorts to partner King Of Swing. The Cross stable will be set for another big night, with Franco Hampton tackling the No Band Final and Lets Katchmeifucan in the Band 5 Final looking well-placed for successive wins. Ranger Bomb - who was an eye-catcher after a massive run when third to Governor Jujon - will look for redemption in what will be a cracking 3YO contest. It will be hard to top seven winners in two days, but the Cain Plane is airborne.   THE BAD The Dux stable is in good form at present and would have been keen on the chances of one of their two runners on Saturday night at The Creek. The two runners were at opposite ends of the night, with Riverleigh Rocket landing barrier 10 in the opening event, while Key Largo was barrier two in the final race of the evening. It can be a long time waiting with such a big gap between runners, yet trainer Mark Dux would have been buoyed by the chances of landing a rare Saturday night double following the success of Riverleigh Rocket in the opening race. The gelded son of Courage Under Fire has been a great bread-and-butter performer for his connections, who are long time clients of the Dux stable. Claiming the 17th victory of his career to go with his 40 minor placings, Dux always felt he could win a qualifier, yet it has proven elusive - with over 30 attempts prior to claiming the breakthrough. With Saturday night’s race over his less-preferred 2138-metre distance, drawn the second line and starting an outsider according to punters, it appeared that it might be a case of not this time once again. However, after settling at the rear of the field, driver Paul Diebert was able to secure a three-wide trail from the 800 metres. Approaching the 400-metre pole, he was left exposed three-wide but continued to surge forward and claim victory with a winning margin of three-and-a-half metres. With the long wait until race ten, the stable would have been quietly confident of snaring the double, especially when the field swung for home. Last start winner Key Largo was fired off the gate to find the front and after running the field through a steady middle-half, hit the stretch in front and travelling. Despite setting a 27.1 closing quarter, Key Largo could not hold off the challenge of Mister Donald, grabbed in the closing strides to be a neck away in second. Second place is still a great result - especially backing up from his smart win on Monday - yet it looked like it was the one that got away in an attempt to claim a rare bookend double.   THE WILDCARD ‘Hollywood’ John McMullen created a wonderful legacy in Queensland harness racing and Albion Park recognised those achievements on Saturday with the running of the JC McMullen. A pioneer ahead of his time, John McMullen had success with many horses, as well as both imported and exported racehorses and stallions over the years. JC McMullen trained his last winner on February 25 2012, when Riverboat Star was successful for the last time in his career, driven to success on that occasion by Pete McMullen. Yet one of his proudest moments came in 2009 when Riverboat Star, which he also owned, contested the 2009 Inter Dominion. It was a special moment with three generations of the McMullen clan coming together with son John (Jnr) training the gelding and grandson Pete taking the reins as a fresh-faced seventeen-year-old. Fast forward to 2020 and the second running of the JC McMullen, it was a fitting victory to Will The Wizard who came with a powerful finishing surge. Driving the winner was Pete McMullen, wearing the silks of his grandfather - red with a white sash - to claim an emotional victory. It was a poignant win with the gravity of the moment evident when McMullen raised his whip for a celebratory salute. Narissa McMullen added to the moment when finishing second with Colby, securing the quinella for the family. As for Will The Wizard, he has been a six-time winner this season and connections could only dream he can make the rise in his four-year-old season the same way the inaugural winner of the JC McMullen did. That winner was Self Assured.   THE MILESTONE Allman Park at Warwick played host to an eight-race card on Sunday with the country track providing a great spectacle of grass trotting action. It was local trainer and driver Dayl March who was able to steal the show, landing a treble - including the big one of the day - the Warwick Pacing Cup. Used to travelling upwards of five hours for a return trip to Redcliffe or Albion Park, the chance to race in their hometown proved welcome and rewarding outing for the March stable. With just six harness horses in the barn at present, March had four of those entered for the Warwick meeting - Atomic Pete, Artful Maid, Our Major Day and Timenpatience. On paper, March looked to have a strong book of runners, but after his first runner he may have been left thinking luck was not with the team after Atomic Pete bombed the start at his maiden race outing. But it was the only hiccup of the day, with the remaining three runners all scoring decisive victories. Artful Maid was next onto the track with the mare returning from a spell while Big Bang Leonard was sent out a white-hot favourite to claim the race. March chanced his arm and sent the mare straight to the front and from there was never headed in a comfortable victory. The highlight of the treble was without doubt the gritty win of Our Major Day in the Warwick Pacing Cup, with the six-year-old scoring in smart time on the grass surface. Our Major Day has now landed successive wins, adding to his last start Albion Park victory when successful on November 24. Timenpatience also made it successive wins when claiming the last race of the day. Breaking her maiden status at Redcliffe at just her third career start, the Warwick victory takes her figures to two wins in four starts. The trip home from the races is always shorter after good success, and the best bit of the March treble is that Dayl only had ten minutes to travel home.   THIS WEEK Five race meetings will be held in Queensland this week, kicking off at Albion Park on on Tuesday and Friday afternoon, before the mammoth night of action on Saturday. Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon will be the regular fixtures from Redcliffe. All eyes will be fixed on The Creek this Saturday with the running of the Group 1 TAB Blacks A Fake, which will also be featured on free-to-air television via 7Mate. The crescendo of the Summer Carnival arrives with the running of the Grand Circuit event over the long trip of 2680 metres. Colt Thirty One will be out to defend his title after winning the last running of the Blacks A Fake back in July of 2019. The trotters will do battle in the Group 2 Trotters Sprint, while Ultimate Tools sponsor two-year-old and three- year-old feature events, as well as finals of the No Band and Band 5 following heats and a prelude held last Friday. Hall of Fame Horseman Bill Dixon will also be honoured with the second running of the Bill Dixon, and Virgil looks a top chance to go back-to-back.   Darren Clayton for Racing Queensland

Catch up on the week’s harness racing action in our weekly review, thanks to Darren Clayton. THE GOOD Queensland’s signature event for square gaiters - the Darrell Alexander Memorial - will be run this coming Saturday night; with the 14 finalists decided after six heats. There were five winners of the six heats - Our Overanova, BD Khaosan, Musculus and Majestic Simon, with Gee Up Neddy the only finalist to claim victory in both heats he contested. However, if Neddy is to claim victory in the Group 2 Final, he will need to overcome history. The 2020 edition will be the 14th running of the DJA and in the previous 13 renewals, no trotter has been able to win both heat rounds and the Final. But this year has been a year like no other in so many ways, so will this be the year that a trotter can sweep the series? Gee Up Neddy has certainly found form at the right time to make it a reality, and from the 10-metre handicap combined with his great manners, has the chance to re-write history. In in the fifth heat on Saturday night, Gee Up Neddy was safely away to settle closer to the rear as Godofthunder moved up outside the leader Im The Commando to ensure an even tempo throughout. BD Khaosan had the one-by- one trail and looked poised to strike as the field swung for home, however, Gee Up Neddy kept coming down the outside to claim victory by a half-neck. That pair had broken away with the third placed Havana Magic a further 14 metres astern. Owner, trainer, and driver Hayden Barnes will be hoping that he can go one better than the 2019 Final. In last year’s series, Gee Up Neddy was a narrow 2nd in the Final after looming up strongly, only to be grabbed in the closing strides along the passing lane behind Wee Man Trouble. Versatility could be the key to victory in 2020, with Gee Up Neddy possessing that attribute. Clean manners from the tapes along with the ability to work or be saved for a closing sprint will hold the nine-year-old in good stead. Back in August, Barnes listed his season highlight as bringing up his 400th career victory aboard Gee Up Neddy. That statement may be up for debate later this Saturday night if Barnes can become the first to sweep the DJA Series. If by some bad luck Gee Up Neddy is runner-up again, there is probably only one horse that Hayden hopes can beat him home - Needabacardi. To be driven by his brother Brendan, the chestnut has been runner-up in both rounds of heats. Trained by Jack Butler, listed as a part owner - Hayden Barnes, it would certainly be a season highlight. THE BAD American politician Frank A. Clark once quipped “It’s hard to detect good luck — it looks so much like something you’ve earned.” That is a statement that certainly would resonate with owner Mick Andreadis. Owning horses in several states spread across various trainers, Andreadis has certainly had his resilience tested, and here in Queensland, the trotter I Asked Nicely is one such test. Starting just nine times since arriving in Brisbane with trainer Travis Mackay back in March, the eight-year-old has won two races. Yet such are his problems, he has trialled on 15 occasions in that same period under enforced embargos to correct his manners. Another horse owned by Andreadis is Major Mucha, a horse that has been plagued by bad luck in landing a good barrier in recent months. Joining the Mackay stable back in July, the four-year-old Art Major gelding has started on 20 occasions. Heading into his latest assignment, Major Mucha had started from gate 4 or wider in 17 successive starts. From gate one on Saturday, he made his own luck when leading throughout to claim victory with Dannielle Veivers taking the reins. Luck may be turning for Andreadis, with another of his pacers scoring at Mildura on Thursday. Laser Major - now a 10-year-old - was successful in the opening race, ending a win drought that had extended back to 2016 and over 50 race starts. With that sort of drought, it is fair to say that any luck has certainly been earnt.   THE MILESTONE There were three age track records at Marburg on Sunday, with the warm weather and settling track proving ideal for fast times. The first of those records came in the opening event of the day when the Peter Greig-trained Straytothepoolroom was successful. Marburg does not tend to have a great deal of two-year-old events on their programmes, however on Sunday a mixed age event was the catalyst of the new record. Driven by Angus Garrard, the Cammibest gelding was put on the front-end early and once in control, held on to take the victory and surpass a record that has stood since 2008. Maywyn Gold, trained and driven by Shane Sanderson, has held the record for 12 years, with the win of Straytothepoolroom taking 0.9 seconds off the old mark. Two weeks ago, Voodoo Fella provided Jordan Topping with her first victory as a driver and with his latest victory, Jordan can also boast the three-year-old colts and geldings record. Twice within a month this record has been bettered - Major Fernco setting a new mark on October 25, with Voodoo Fella eclipsing that mark with his victory at the weekend. Wide in the closing stages, it was a well-timed drive by Topping, arriving to claim a half-head margin and set a record of 1.58.4 with the win. It also provided the Russell family with a quinella - David training the winner with son Dan training the runner-up - Abercrombie Tab. The third and final record was the victory of Gina Tarantella, setting a new benchmark for the aged mares of 1.57.8, taking 0.3 seconds off the previous mark held by Ale Ale Kai.   THE WILDCARD Gina Tarantella was having her first start for Jonah Hutchinson after joining his stables from New South Wales. The four-year-old Million Dollar Cam mare arrived in Queensland after 20 starts that had failed to net a return down south. After a sound trial at Menangle in mid-October, she was on the move North where Hutchinson opted to send her straight to the races on Sunday at Marburg - without a further trial. Powering out of the pack from the start, Hutchinson had the mare freewheeling in front, running the opening splits in close to even time with identical 30.1 second quarters. Dialling it up down the back, Gina Tarantella put up a big margin on her rivals when running through the third split in 28.3 seconds. With the race shot to bits, Hutchinson had not moved on the mare, cruising home in 29.8 seconds for the last 400 metres, setting the 1.57.8 mile-rate for the 1850-metre trip and establishing a new aged mare track record. In the demolition process, the winning margin could likely be a new record for the Marburg track - the 73.2 metre margin back to second also close to a Queensland record. Searching through mountains of results, the victory could possibly be the second biggest in Queensland behind the 77-metre debut win of Viking Reign back in 1987. Stablemates Greg The Great and Archilles - trained by Graham Dwyer - both won races by 55.3 metres last season but hitting into 70+ metres looks rarefied air. That is not the only big win in recent weeks for the Hutchinson stable, with the arrival of some new horses to the barn bringing some good success. Rousey claimed victory by 51.7 metres at her first outing for the stable, the mare remaining undefeated in Queensland after four starts. With the manner of the win by Gina Tarantella, Jonah Hutchinson and connections could have some fun times ahead.   THIS WEEK The TAB Queensland Harness Racing Summer Carnival officially starts on Saturday at Albion Park with the night jam-packed with feature racing. Headlining the on-track excitement is the Group 3 Be Good Johnny Sprint where Colt Thirty One and Turn It Up look set to do battle. After two rounds of heats, the Darrel Alexander Memorial Trot at Group 2 level will see a capacity field of square gaiters look to secure Queensland’s biggest trotting event. QBRED three-year-olds are set to do battle, with a pair of Group 3 races - for the colts and geldings and for the fillies - in the new QBRED for Life race to be conducted at 2138 metres. Support races on the card include the APHRC Members Cup, the Changeover Queen of the Creek for mares and a two-year-old feature. The racing week will include the regular schedule of Tuesday through Saturday, with Albion Park on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday along with Redcliffe hosting Wednesday and Thursday. Sunday will see grass track action from Kilcoy where three races will be conducted alongside the gallops meeting at the track known as Moonee Valley of the North.   Darren Clayton for Racing Queensland

Catch up on the week’s Queensland harness racing action in our weekly review, thanks to Darren Clayton. THE GOOD Following resurfacing works to the Albion Park track in late September, racing returned to The Creek on October 3. The first month with the newly cambered home bend has played host to 13 race meetings and a total of 117 races held for the month. Some recent storm activity has tested the surface, with some heavy showers last Tuesday being compared to rain of biblical proportions. Yet overall, the track has played superbly and despite times earlier in the month slower - as expected - the clock is now starting to get tested. Across those 117 races, one horse holds claim to the fastest two mile-rates, the fastest of those set last Friday. The Fortunate Son, trained by Narissa McMullen, has shown that ‘power-running’ really suits his style winning two of his past three starts. On Friday, the six-year-old was sent forward to take control soon after the start, running the opening quarter in a sizzling 26.6 seconds. Keeping the speed on, the next three splits were recorded in 29.3, 27.6 and home in 28.2 to stop the clock at 1.51.6, bettering his 1.52.4 run on October 9. Showing the track is in great order, the third fastest mile of the month was recorded in Race 10 on Saturday night, when Major Fernco finished over the top to claim the Marburg to Albion Final. The talented three-year-old posted a new career best of 1.52.8, which narrowly edged out the star open-class performer Turn It Up, who rated 1.53.0 when successful on October 24. Turn It Up ran the fastest individual last 800-metre sectional for the month when chasing home Colt Thirty One on October 10, stopping the clock in 54.28. The fastest closing 400-metre split was recorded on Saturday night in Race 9 when Fame Assured charged home for third, with her 26.19 marginally quicker than the 26.2 recorded by Smart As Camm Be when victorious earlier in the evening. With further settling time, the mantle of Australia’s speed pacing capital could be on the way back to The Creek.   THE BAD Bad storms have ripped through South-East Queensland in the past week, with damage reported in many areas - Ipswich and Scenic Rim regions particularly affected. While the fierce winds and hail recorded has left a destructive impact, many areas have received much-needed rainfall to fill dams and tanks. In great testament to the track staff at Redcliffe and Albion Park, just three races have been lost in the past week owing to the wet conditions. On Tuesday, the last race at The Creek was abandoned as a result of the sheer amount of rain making the racing surface unsafe in some areas. At Redcliffe, the last two races of the Wednesday meeting were lost when lightning activity in the area was deemed too close to safely continue. Despite losing those events, the Thursday meeting at The Triangle went ahead without incident - the surface in great order - with winners coming from every part of the track over the eight-race card. The conditions were far from ideal for all involved - yet to run 51 of 54 scheduled races for the week perhaps it is not so bad after all.   THE MILESTONE With so many milestones achieved by Grant Dixon throughout his illustrious career in harness racing, sometimes the scale of some are overlooked. On Saturday night, the current star of Dixon’s Tamborine stables equalled a mark currently occupied by arguably three of the greatest pacers trained in Queensland’s history. Colt Thirty One moved up the Albion Park win leader board in claiming his 38th victory at the famed Breakfast Creek oval. After the Colt secured victory in the Remembering Rip Van Winkle Open Pace, there are now four horses equal on 38 wins. Chester, as he is known in the Dixon stables, joined Blacks A Fake, Be Good Johnny and Cobbity Classic all equal on the leaderboard. Amazingly, Colt Thirty One has missed a minor placing just twice in 53 starts at Albion Park. Blacks A Fake missed a top-three the same number of times, finishing in the money at 48 of his 50 appearances at The Creek. In terms of prizemoney won solely from races held at Albion Park, Blackie leads the way, with the recent form of Colt Thirty One seeing him move into second place. The King Of The Creek, Destreos, sits third on the prizemoney tally - but his 73 race wins looks to be rare air that may never be reached again. With the form he has shown this campaign and the upcoming Summer Carnival riches on offer, Colt Thirty One looks set to climb the leader board.   THE WILDCARD Taking on bucking bulls in the rodeo scene looks to have given Jonah Hutchinson the perfect grounding to take on Rousey. No, not the female former UFC Champion and now WWE star Ronda Rousey, but the chestnut equine version that Jonah is now training. Arriving in his stables with a stand down embargo after striking trouble at her last start in Canberra on October 19, the mare looked impressive with a strong Albion Park trial. Making her first race appearance for Hutchinson at Redcliffe on Sunday night, the pair worked to the front soon after the start and from there were in complete control. Keeping a solid tempo, the opposition were looking to tap out as Rousey cruised home to the easiest of victories, with the winning margin a whopping 52 metres. It was a successful night for Hutchinson, completing a training double with the first leg, Blissfulday driven by Jonah’s partner Paige Bevan. Six-year-old gelding Blissfulday was also a big winner with his second Redcliffe victory. Proving too strong when working home wide off the track, the winning margin was just over 20 metres. Fine-tuning his ringcraft with some top conditioners – the likes of Grant Dixon, Shane Graham along with a stint in Sydney for Team Tritton – Hutchinson is starting to make a mark, slowly building a strong team from his Logan Village base. In just his second season of training, Hutchinson has built his numbers strongly, preparing 19 winners for the term to date. The win by the equine Rousey suggests she can dominate The Triangle in the same manner the human version once dominated The Octagon.   THIS WEEK The schedule in Queensland this week faces a shuffle owing to the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday. As a result, there is no TAB racing on Tuesday from Albion Park, however there will still be harness action from Redcliffe in the shape of a five-race card. Along with the Tuesday non-TAB fixture, Redcliffe will host race meetings on Wednesday in their regular night slot and Friday will host an afternoon slot. Albion Park will host a mammoth evening of action on Thursday, where 11 races are set down for decision. This will complement the Saturday night metropolitan meeting. The week will round out with a Sunday afternoon fixture from Marburg, with all races carrying a QBRED cash bonus on top of regular stakes.   Darren Clayton for Racing Queensland

Catch up on the week’s harness racing action in our weekly review, thanks to Darren Clayton. THE GOOD Young trainer and driver Lachie Manzelmann is on the rise, starting to make a splash after growing his training numbers in the past two months. Setting up in Redcliffe’s famous Knight Street adjacent to the track, Manzelmann can claim a training success at each of the main tracks in south-east Queensland – Albion Park, Redcliffe, and Marburg – over the last month. Kicking off the season primarily as a driver, it was a lean start in the bike, going winless for some months. Determination saw Lachie hit his straps in the second half of the year, closing out the season with 45 wins. Having first had success as a trainer back in December 2017 with Sicilian Slumber, it was not until earlier this season that the Manzelmann name was back in the fold as a trainer. That win was with the mare Dashing Hannah (pictured) in Heat 14 of the Trot Rods series – on the Final night – her second win of the series after claiming Heat 6 when prepared by Clint Petroff. With the team starting to take shape, success has flowed following the victory of Mizzz Adele back on August 13 when Manzelmann trained and drove the mare to success at her first start under his care. Since then, Lachie has triumphed with Mega Star, Bridget Blue Chip and Cannan, with his figures in the current term showing 7 wins and 6 placings from 32 starters. After spending time honing his craft with Chantal Turpin and Pete McMullen, Darrel Graham, and a period in Sydney with Team Tritton, Manzelmann is putting that knowledge into practice. The win at Marburg on Sunday with Cannan is a perfect example of his conditioning abilities. After Cannan finished mid-field at Albion Park on Saturday night in the final of the Marburg to Albion Series, the gelding was on the short back-up - less than 18 hours later at Marburg. Sent to the post as favourite to win the second heat of the Garrards Young Drivers Series, driver Jonah Hutchinson did not let punters down. Securing an easy lead from gate 1, the pair were able to dictate for the entirety of the trip to claim victory over a fast-finishing Bonnies Cam for driver Trent Lethaby. Cannan has been a ‘stable-hopper’ in his career, finding his way to Manzelmann after 74 career starts that have netted five victories. Ironically, Cannan was formerly prepared by Jonah Hutchinson who trained the gelding to a maiden-breaking win back in November 2019. With a pedigree to succeed, Lachie Manzelmann looks set to make his mark.   THE BAD The Queensland harness racing industry is mourning the loss of Russell Kajewski. A hobby trainer that entered the sport later in life, Kajewski was first licenced in 2009/10, with his maiden winner coming along in just his second season. That first winner was the mare Gypsy Island - an unfashionably bred mare by the unraced stallion Loverboy Gumnut - scoring at Toowoomba on November 26, 2010, with Scott Neaves in the bike. Gypsy Island would go on to win three races for her trainer prior to being retired to stud, where she produced just the one foal, the Lanercost filly, Itmightbeyou. Providing Kajewski with his best season to date, Itmightbeyou has been a five-time winner this season, also securing a $10,000 QBRED first win bonus when successful on May 25. Another special moment for Kajewski came in 2014 when partnering Myluckylife to victory at Marburg - his first winner as a driver. His four winners in the sulky were partnered by another 20 as a trainer. Our heartfelt sympathies go to his wife, Doris, and the entire Kajewski family.   THE WILDCARD Trainer Mark Rees has made the most of staying close to home over a six-day period, with some strong results at Marburg. At Monday’s October 5 meeting, Rees prepared a training double, which included a quinella. The meet also saw the return of Marburg track record holder Jewel Of Peak, who returned from a spell in fine style to win the eighth race of her career. Two races later, and Rees led home the quinella when Ale Ale Kai defeated So Kool Master, with Narissa McMullen claiming the drive on both Rees winners. With Marburg again racing on Sunday, Rees was able to send his team around again, securing a win, a third and a fourth from his three runners. So Kool Master - a horse he also owns - franked the form of Ale Ale Kai the previous week where he ran second, when coming with a well-timed finishing burst. Driven by Matt Elkins, the seven-year-old gelding attacked the line strongly to claim his 14th career victory and second since being trained by Rees.   THE MILESTONE The standardbred are a resilient breed and that was to the fore on Friday when rising 12-year-old Mark Dennis secured another victory. After 272 career starts, the gelding is second only to the champion Chicago Bull, as having the most wins of their sire - Bettors Delight- and still racing in Australia. Friday night’s victory took his tally to 46 career wins and just his second at Albion Park. Despite it being just his second victory at Brisbane’s pacing headquarters, it was his first while prepared in Queensland. The first victory he recorded at The Creek came back in April of 2019 when sent north to campaign by Shane Sanderson, a former Queenslander that has been training out of Menangle for several years. When previously trained by Shane Tritton, Mark Dennis competed in the state’s best race, finishing ninth in the 2014 Queensland Pacing Championship, a race won by For A Reason. Mark Dennis started his Australian career back on November 24, 2011 when trained and driven by Lance Justice to victory at Cranbourne. The journeyman pacer has been based in Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales and now Queensland where Jack Butler is the ninth trainer to saddle the gelding since that first Australian start. A win that came with Mark Dennis leading all the way, Chloe Butler took the drive and became the 12th driver to steer the gelding to success in Australia.   THIS WEEK Albion Park will host the $10,800 Pot Of Gold Final this Friday night, after the series had originally been put back a fortnight owing to the track resurfacing. After two heats, Major Fernco looks the one to beat after blitzing his rivals to claim the second heat by almost 25 metres. The first heat was a much closer affair, with just a neck margin separating the first three across the line, Motu Amethyst arriving along the passing lane to score. Redcliffe will host a Sunday evening meeting this week, to complement the Wednesday and Thursday fixtures. With stakes programmed at $3,499 for the Sunday night meeting, each race will also offer the added QBRED Cash Bonus feature to the winner. The Creek will host meetings Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday as per normal. Tuesday afternoon’s Albion Park meet has assembled a strong eight-race card with some competitive line-ups across the board. The sixth event looks the highlight, where the progressive types Kiwis Are Flying and Delightful Major are set to do battle, however there are some other quality performers that could claim victory.   Darren Clayton for Racing Queensland

THE GOOD 2019 Queensland Horse of the Year, Colt Thirty One, has returned from a brief spell in fine fettle to press his credentials for successive titles. In two runs back this preparation, the Grant Dixon-trained entire has shown his versatility to overcome gate seven on successive occasions; the first in a tough fighting win, the second in a swooping finish. Resuming over the 2,138-metre distance on September 12, Dixon sent his star pupil to sit outside the leader, Northview Hustler, where he was able to show plenty of grit in scoring victory by a one-metre margin. Second-up on Saturday night in the Remembering Son Of Pearl Pace, the barrier draw was again unkind, landing the outside front-line gate, this time over the 1,660-metre trip. As the field was released, Dixon stayed out of the early pace battle that ensued, easing ‘Chester’ to find position in the running line. With Justalittle Torque repelling Maywyns Best through the first quarter, the clock was stopped in a sizzling 26.5 seconds. That drew an early move from Ashley Locaz, working forward from the 1100-metre mark, expending plenty of petrol in working forward. The move saw Maywyns Best flagged on to take control, with Ashley Locaz moving to the position outside the leader. With the speed on, Dixon made his move at the 500-metre mark, pushing Colt Thirty One around the field to loom into the contest strongly. Balancing up for the stretch drive, the Colt had bullets to fire, arriving for a strong 1.51.2 mile-rate victory, a new career personal best for the five-year-old. In claiming the 40th win of his career, it was the 35th time that Colt Thirty One has been successful at Albion Park. This moves the Dixon-trained star into the top 10 for most victories at The Creek, Queensland’s headquarters of harness racing. Sitting equal with Melton Multimax and the former star mare Happy Haldon on 34 wins heading into Saturday night’s race, the win pushed Chester to 35 and outright ninth on the list. Another three wins will move Colt Thirty One equal to three of the greatest Queensland trained pacers of any era, and amazingly all three campaigned at the same time. Be Good Johnny, Cobbity Classic and Blacks A Fake all finished their careers with 38 victories at Albion Park. Arguably the greatest ever, Blackie missed a cheque just twice in his 50 appearances at headquarters, adding 10 placings to his 38 victories. Colt Thirty One has made it to 35 wins from 49 outings at The Creek, placed a further 12 times having also missed a top-three finish just twice thus far. Returning in such dominant fashion, Chester looks set to further his record with successive Horse of the Year titles looking well within his grasp.   THE BAD While track resurfacing works were scheduled to be completed with the transfer of just the Tuesday and Friday meetings at Albion Park, the process involved has seen two further meetings transferred to Redcliffe this week. The delay has been necessitated by advanced surveying work to be undertaken, and these advanced works will allow accurate track levels to be surveyed and recorded. Despite the disappointment for the Albion Park Club to lose the Saturday and Tuesday meetings, the long-term benefits are worth the short-term loss. The transfer represents a great opportunity for Redcliffe to play host to metropolitan racing. Officially opened just last week, the upgraded facilities were the result of the Club securing a Government grant to complete works that included a new stabling complex and upgrades to the race day facilities for drivers and stewards. Fresh off the track undergoing maintenance resurfacing in the past fortnight, it bodes well for a top night at The Triangle this Saturday night.   THE MILESTONE It has been a long time between drinks for Deception Bay based trainer Stephen Bunz, yet his perseverance has never waned throughout the season. In the extended season, Bunz had yet to prepare a winner, not through lack of effort or attempts as he continued to toil away looking for an elusive winner. That determination was rewarded last Thursday at Redcliffe when Bunz broke the drought to land his first winner for the season when Rayong Princess was successful in the opening event of the day. In recording her third career victory - the second under Bunz care - the Rob Roy Mattgregor mare also broke a drought of her own. The last victory the mare recorded came back in April of 2018, driven on that occasion by Adam Richardson. This time around Paul Diebert took the drive, leading throughout in claiming victory by a half-head margin. Owned by Bunz in partnership with Matthew Greentree, it was a day to remember for Greentree as he recorded his first double as an owner. Just thirty minutes after Rayong Princess was successful, Greentree drove Sixpenny Red to victory, a mare he was gifted and is trained by Graham Dwyer. Coming with a well-timed run, four-year-old mare Sixpenny Red rushed by the leader to claim victory by just over 10 metres, the eighth win of her career.   THE WILDCARD One Change remains unbeaten in Queensland since joining the Vicki Rasmussen stable after another strong performance when successful at Albion Park at his most recent start. Sitting back as the leader Will The Wizard was out in front in ‘catch me if you can’ tactics, driver Shane Graham allowed One Change to slide up towards the leader. With a third quarter blitz of 26.9 down the back stretch, Graham continued to edge closer and approaching the home turn, put the power on to take the lead. Forging clear in the run to the judge, a fast-finishing Bombadier Jujon loomed up, but left his run too late with One Change holding on to claim victory by a neck. The win equalled the three-year-old track record at Albion Park, matching the mark set just last month by Crunch Time in a 1.51.1 mile. The previous record of 1.52.1 set by Burnaholeinmypocket had stood since June 2015. In securing the Ultimate Tools sponsored 3YO event, One Change took his superb record to 12 wins from 18 starts, with the colt sure to be a major player in any feature he contests this year. THIS WEEK As a result of Albion Park’s track resurfacing works, Redcliffe will play host to the next eight successive Queensland harness meetings, starting on Tuesday September 22 through to October 1. This Friday will see heats of the popular Pot Of Gold Series held over the 1780 metre distance. Those progressing to the Final will compete over the 1,660-metre distance at Albion Park on Friday October 2, with total stakes of $10,860 on offer. Trainers and owners are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the updated programme and distance amendments that are a result of the Saturday and Tuesday meetings being transferred to Redcliffe. Of interest in the calendar this Saturday is a 2040-metre event for the square gaiters to be keenly contested. For horses with no band assessment, it is effectively a qualifier for the trotters and on current numbers should provide a highly competitive event, with the likes of Doug, Skyline, Jeddy R Ya Ready, Aveross Don and Miss Invasion all possible nominations for the event.   by Darren Clayton

Catch up on the weekend’s harness racing action in our weekly review, thanks to Darren Clayton.   THE GOOD The recently married Ben and Tamara Battle are putting their faith in Queensland harness racing, with the young couple recently purchasing a property at Peak Crossing. Originally from the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales, Battle spent a long period learning the ropes from Bathurst-based Bernie Hewitt, picking up plenty of skills and opportunities. Branching out from Bernie and Cath Hewitt’s stable to start his own team in the 2015/16 season, Battle set up a stable from Goulburn. With moderate success in those early years, two of the better horses in the team were sent north to the stables of Grant Dixon, with Whiskey Blaze and Soho Shanghai seemingly reaching their ‘mark’ in New South Wales. “I own both of those and it was becoming harder to find suitable races for them so thought I would send them to Grant to see how they would perform in Queensland,” Ben Battle said.  Whiskey Blaze proved that he could still be a force, with the gelding claiming five victories when prepared out of the State’s leading stable. Soho Shanghai also proved more than capable, securing three victories in his time with the Dixon stable. That led to a conundrum for Ben and Tamara in what to do looking to the future. Goulburn is home to some big stables and being an easy commute from Menangle sees the big stables often making the trek down the Hume to compete there on race day. “I had a few horses in the team who needed to head to Queensland,” Battle said. “Tamara and I had a chat and said ‘do we just send them up here to other trainers or do we make the move and bring them ourselves’. “So, we flew up one weekend and had a look at the property we knew was available and made the decision we would relocate.” After originally setting up the stable at Toorbul, the Battles had to make a financial decision to move again to Caboolture. All the time though, the pair have been on the lookout for a property to purchase and call their own. That search came to fruition recently with a property coming to market at Peak Crossing and after negotiating a deal, Ben and Tamara have settled and will move to their new home in October. The 116-acre property already has a 16-box stable block, stallion yards and a deep swim, something that Ben is looking forward to being able to utilise. “I had access to a swim when we were in Goulburn, but you could only use it half the year - the other half you had to break through the ice if you needed it,” Battle said. “The swim will be really good, it will just add another option to our training and is something that is so beneficial to the horses, particularly the older horses in looking after them”. The property size will also allow Battle to focus on another area that he is keen to build on - the education of yearlings. New to Queensland in early 2019, he completed the early education of just two yearlings, however that jumped to 11 in 2020 and the goal is to get that number to 20 in the new year. “It is something that I get a lot of enjoyment from and that first year, Justa Little Bit was one of them,” Battle said. That current two-year-old had a strong debut season, registering three wins from his six starts and was second in the QBRED Breeders Classic behind subsequent Triad winner Big Wheels. With an astute mentor of the ‘babies’ in Bernie Hewitt, Battle is looking forward to what the new year may bring from his Peak Crossing stable. “When I was with Bern there was plenty to learn, if I didn’t learn something it would have been a waste of time being there,” Battle said.   THE BAD The COVID pandemic has had an effect in most facets of life and for Tamara and Ben, it has been no different. Originally scheduled to be married in April, the couple postponed the nuptials along with a honeymoon booked for Singapore and The Maldives. Weddings are stressful at the best of times; throw in a Global Pandemic into the mix and it certainly becomes a trying time. Rescheduling the date of the big day to late August, the dreaded C word would again play another part in becoming the Battles. An imminent border closure was again put forward by the Queensland Government, throwing the rescheduled plans into disarray once again. Not to be deterred, Ben and Tamara, just like their move North, put faith in themselves and decided the wedding would be brought forward - immediately. Having only earlier that week signed the contract on the new property, now they were planning a wedding in three days. “On the Wednesday they said the border would be closing, so we got on the phone, rang everyone and said the wedding would be on the Saturday,” Battle said.  “It was great, but I certainly would not recommend it that’s for sure.” True testament to the regard that the young couple are held in, they had over 50 people make the trek north from New South Wales to attend their wedding with three days’ notice and an impending border closure. The Maldives may have been ruled out, but the young couple did manage to squeeze in a brief trip to Hamilton Island before heading back to the day-to-day of running a harness racing stable. If the past season results are anything to go by, the pair look set to capitalise on the move, preparing more winners. This latest season has been their best yet, preparing 25 winners with Ben also taking the opportunity to pick up outside drives, landing 37 wins for the season. Whiskey Blaze, one of those that probably has a lot to do with the move north is still racing and is still competitive. In-fact the gelding has scored another five victories since re-joining the Battle barn and is a last-start placegetter. Starting to build the numbers, they have six two-year-olds that will be ready to come into work once they move onto the new property. With most of the horses in the barn arriving from New South Wales, either with or since they moved, Ben is looking forward to having some QBRED-eligible horses in his barn. Add to that his goal of working with more young stock and expanding the racing team, be ready for the Battles to make their mark.   THE MILESTONE Mafuta Vautin claimed the 30th victory of his career on Saturday night at Albion Park, equalling the number of wins of his sire Rollon Bigred in the process. The chestnut is named after Rugby League legend Paul Vautin, Mafuta being a Swahili word that translated to English means ‘fat’. Trained by Darrel Graham, Mafuta Vautin was driven patiently by Angus Garrard who utilised the passing lane to perfection, claiming victory by a head. Garrard became the fifth driver to rein the gelding to victory, joining Darrel, Brittany Graham, Adam Sanderson and Grant Dixon who have all recorded a victory behind Mafuta Vautin. Rollon Bigred was prepared by Darrel Graham in all bar two starts throughout his career, taking the stable all through the eastern states chasing feature race glory. Highlights from his 30 career wins were victories in the two and four-year-old QBRED Triad Finals, the two and three-year-old QBRED Breeders Classic Finals, the Hamilton Cup and the Paleface Adios Stakes. Mafuta Vautin reached his 30th career victory at start 130, while it took his sire only 76 starts to reach the same feat. While Rollon Bigred achieved his career wins across eight different venues, Mafuta Vautin has been successful at just 3 tracks - Albion Park, Redcliffe and on two occasions, Gympie. Ashleysplace, the dam of Mafuta Vautin was also raced by the Grahams, with Darrel steering the mare to one victory prior to being retired to breeding duties. Highlighting the real family involvement, Mafuta Vautin is owned and was bred by Darrel’s wife, Linda. With Steph Graham having also trained the gelding to one victory, all members of the Graham family have been involved in some part of the success - areal Team Graham performance.   THE WILDCARD Kiwis Are Flying franked his trial performance when making a successful start to his Australian career last Tuesday at Albion Park. Finding the one x one trail from the second line, the Narissa McMullen-trained gelding powered home in a strong 55.3 second closing 800-metre split. The gelding is impeccably bred, out of the former star mare Kiwi Ingenuity, a winner of eleven races - four of those at Group 1 level - and over $500,000 in stakes. The win by Kiwis Are Flying was the perfect way to start a new association for McMullen, entrusted with the gelding via a recommendation from her mortgage broker. With Narissa and partner Matt Elkins having recently purchased a new property, the couple are in the process of developing the infrastructure to have a full training facility. In the process of acquiring the property, McMullen has also taken on some new horses that are starting to hit the track. Joining Kiwis Are Flying are Lets Go Better and The Fortunate Son as recent arrivals to Queensland. With Elkins recently having success with Paravani, the couple have plenty of hard work ahead in establishing their property, but they have the horse flesh behind them to capitalise upon. With success flowing season on season in recent years, they look set to entrench themselves in the Queensland harness scene for years to come.   THIS WEEK Tuesday’s Albion Park meeting will see the return of top filly Pelosi. Drawing awkwardly in barrier 7 and taking on older and experienced campaigners will make it tough for the dual Group 1 winner. The Anna Woodmansey-trained filly has been to the trials three times to prepare for her return, after struggling to find an ideal return race for Pelosi. Targeting the NSW Breeders Challenge for three-year-old fillies, Pelosi will be aiming to go back-to-back following her victory in the Group 1 two-year-old edition back in 2019. Elsewhere, track resurfacing has been completed at Marburg and Redcliffe that will see racing return to those venues. After forgoing racing at ‘The Triangle’ last week owing to the works, normal transmission will resume with Redcliffe hosting their regular Wednesday night timeslot. Consequently, this week’s schedule will see racing at Albion Park on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, with Redcliffe hosting meetings on Wednesday and Thursday. Saturday night at Albion Park will see the second of the Ultimate Tools sponsored age events. After the initial race was held for the two-year-olds, the three-year-olds will be catered for on this occasion. With no performance restrictions, the race carries stakes of $12,880, along with a rug and trophy to the winning connections and $250 to the winning trainer and driver thanks to Ultimate Tools. The winning trainer will also receive a $500 voucher.   Darren Clayton for Racing Queensland

Catch up on the weekend’s harness racing action in our weekly review, thanks to Darren Clayton. THE GOOD Fresh off claiming his most successful season as a trainer, Graham Dwyer was again in the winner’s circle at the weekend with victories at Albion Park and Marburg. It was the trainer’s favourite horse in Maywyns Best again proving why he is the stable star. Maywyns Best was successful in Saturday evening’s sixth event, when sent forward from gate seven over 1660 metres to lead throughout in scoring a three-and-a-half metre victory in a slick 1.52.0 mile rate. In super form, the rising eleven-year-old has scored five wins and placed on a further six occasions from his past fifteen starts. Included in the wins is a new career benchmark of 1.51.1, with Pete McMullen in the sulky at each start through this streak. Happy to be referred to as the Aussie Battler, Dwyer has set new personal benchmarks for training wins in the past two seasons. It is a real family affair at Dwyer’s Kingslodge Pacing Stables, with Graham joined by wife Marty and son Layne, as well as Matthew Greentree and Marty’s mother Sandra also involved. Maywyns Best might be the current star, but a filly by the name of Shes Miss Devine could well develop into a shining light for the stable. “She is spelling up at Lunchbox Lodge presently, we really like this filly and think she will be in for a good three-year-old season,” Dwyer said. Understandably so, with the daughter of Heston Blue Chip claiming a win as well as a runner-up in two Group 1 races. Grabbed late in the Redcliffe Yearling Sales Series Final when second to Manila Playboy, she was again the bridesmaid in the QBRED Triad Final behind Jasper. Meanwhile, the trotter Greg The Great tempers the joy that Maywyns Best offers by being a continuing source of frustration. A winner of 15 races for the Kingslodge team and holder of the Albion Park track record for the mobile 1660 metres, the square gaiter could also be responsible for some extra grey in Graham’s mane. His high speed and ability have been equally matched over time by gait and confidence issues, however as the recent track record demonstrates, the rising eight-year-old may have turned the corner.   THE BAD Maywyns Best - or Bestie as he is affectionately known - has been the stable flagbearer over the past 18 months, ably assisted throughout this period by the enigmatic Greg The Great and the ever- consistent Sir Julian. At one stage being the private trainer for prominent owner Rob Essex, the Kingslodge Team went from enjoying success with a well-bred stable to having just two horses in the barn after Essex opted to move in a different direction. “We had a winner on the Saturday night and by the Tuesday all of Rob’s horses were gone,” Dwyer said. “It wasn’t the best time for us, and we were left with just two horses - Sir Julian and Hipstar - and we have been able to rebuild the stable from that to our best ever season in under two years.” Those career high figures have seen Dwyer prepare 70 winners for the 2019/20 season, eclipsing a previous best of 49 the season prior. Further testament to the trainer’s ability at both placing and conditioning the team, there has not been any real turnover in stock for the past two years, with the results coming from the same horses in the barn. Having trained Maywns Best when owned by Essex, the opportunity to purchase the gelding out of a claiming race was too good to knock back. Despite an injury enforced five months on the sidelines immediately after being claimed, Dwyer and his team have rejuvenated the son of Blissful Hall to see him in career-best form. “When I claimed him, I set myself a goal in what I wanted him to achieve, and he has been able to do exactly that and a whole lot more,” Dwyer laughs. Another that Dwyer was hopeful would boost the current statistics was Hipstar, who had shown ability as a two-year-old that included victory in the Consolation of the QBRED Breeders Classic. Returning in June after close to twelve months on the sidelines, the four-year-old was successful in three of his first six starts back. Unfortunately, the gelding has suffered a hairline fracture in a rear leg that has curtailed any immediate plans for the son of Auckland Reactor. While Hipstar may be temporarily derailed, like many other occasions, there is a feelgood story in the next chapter for the Aussie Battler. All Good Wally, a horse that Dwyer took on as an untried seven-year-old was successful in a heat of the ever-popular Marburg to Albion Park Series on Sunday afternoon. The gelding was successful for the 11th time in the space of 17 months for owner Alan Boyd. “Alan had three horses and was trying to sort a few things out,” Dwyer said. “They were all in the paddock and had never been tried and they have all won races.” The three horses are All Good Wally, Peggy Stardust and Half Moon Beach. Sixpenny Red will join her stable-mate in the Marburg to Albion Final, having finished second in her heat, and the four-year-old mare is another interesting chapter in the Kingslodge Pacing Stables story. Formerly owned and trained by John Cremin, the mare was gifted to Matthew Greentree - one of the Kingslodge team - as a learning horse as he furthers his career in harness racing. “It was a great deed by ‘Cremmo’ to give this mare to Matty and not only that, it is the first horse he has owned,” Dwyer said. It didn’t take long to score victory with the mare either, with Sixpenny Red successful on August 23 at Redcliffe when driven by Pete McMullen. With success continuing to flow, Dwyer knows that he needs a turnover of stock to continue his upward spiral. Square-gaiter Doug has recently joined the team and Little Change, a pacer formerly prepared by Rickie Alchin is ‘on-trial’ to hopefully continue his career in Queensland. The four-year-old Doug has already secured the $2,000 first win bonus for trotters after securing their first Queensland victory, and Dwyer believes he will more than pay his way, recovering from a hoof abscess to line up on Tuesday at Albion Park. He may be the Aussie Battler, but the foundations of a successful story are being cemented by Graham Dwyer.   THE MILESTONE Trainer Jack Butler chalked up his 1,000th career winner on Friday night at Albion Park courtesy of a dominant performance by Handsome Hero. In a real family affair, the gelding was driven by Butler’s daughter Chloe, who was content to sit outside the leader before putting the power on down the back stretch and pulling clear for a tough win. Formerly hailing from Bathurst, Butler has been a regular on the Queensland Premiership boards since relocating with his family at the start of 2015. Proving how good the move has been for the Butler family, over half of those 1,000 wins have been achieved in the five-and-a-half years they have been located at Logan Village, south-west of Brisbane. In each full season that Jack has been based in the Sunshine State, he has been able to reach 100 wins for the term. The high came with 119 winners in the 2016/17 season, while the 117 winners prepared from his stables in the 2018/19 campaign saw Butler finish second on the State Premiership to Grant Dixon. Steadily building the quality of his team in recent years, the addition of Hectorjayjay has been a huge boost in 2020, with the star pacer not far away from a return from his most recent setback.   THE WILDCARD He may have been sporting a hair-cut that is better suited to an NRL player, but that has not stopped Ashley Locaz posting his first Albion Park victory. Crossing the Tasman to join the stables of Vicki Rasmussen, the Bettors Delight gelding showed the benefit of his first-up placing when scoring a dominant victory over the 2,138-metre trip on Saturday night. Arriving freshly shaven with what could best be described as a questionable choice of trims, the 2019 Inter Dominion Finalist has shown good improvement through a pair of trials into two race starts. On Saturday night, the five-year-old was too strong when facing the breeze before putting the field to the sword in claiming a strong win, rating 1.54.1 for the middle-distance trip. The talented gelding should take further improvement from the victory, the 11th of his career. Passing $300,000 in stake-earnings following the victory, Ashley Locaz is bred on the most potent cross of current times, being by Bettors Delight out of a Christian Cullen mare. This same cross has now produced 19 winners of $300,000 or more and includes the likes of Lazarus, Chicago Bull, Thefixer, Self Assured, Belle Of Montana and recent Albion Park winner Amazing Dream.   THIS WEEK Track resurfacing works have commenced this week at both Redcliffe and Marburg, meaning this week’s racing schedule will be centred on Albion Park. Race meetings will be held at ‘The Creek’ throughout the week, taking place on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. As a result of the changes, there will be no Wednesday night meeting conducted in Queensland this week. The Thursday programme for Albion Park will be replicate Redcliffe’s, while trials will be held Tuesday, Thursday and Friday in conjunction with the race meetings. Saturday night’s meet will host the final of the latest Marburg to Albion Park Series, with the first two placings in the five heats held at Marburg on Sunday progressing to the $10,900 Final. Allstar Sea for trainer/driver Ben Battle was the fastest heat winner, with trainers Richard Hutchinson and Graham Dwyer to be dually represented in the Final after both claimed a win and a second placing.   by Darren Clayton for Racing Queensland

Catch up on the weekend’s harness racing action in our weekly review, thanks to Darren Clayton. THE GOOD How do you categorise the feeling of owning a winner, training a winner, or driving a winner? Combine all three, and that is a feeling that not many in the sport get to achieve. Add a milestone to the mix and there is a whole lot more thrill, excitement and satisfaction. Hayden Barnes was able to achieve that on Saturday night with the victory of Gee Up Neddy, a horse that he owns on lease, trains, and drove to victory in claiming the ninth race on the card at Albion Park. The win was also the 400th occasion that H L Barnes has been successful as a driver in his career, was number 70 for the season and the second leg of a winning double for the night. The first leg of the double was courtesy of Northview Hustler, a horse trained by Al Barnes - Hayden’s father - who was successful in the Open Class event. Utilising gate one to full advantage, Hayden was wearing his proverbial balaclava, able to steal a crazy 61.4 second opening half, a time unheard of in the open class ranks. With the short-priced favourite Ashley Locaz forced to cut the breeze first-up from a spell, Barnes was sitting on a flush hand and after a very steady 28.6 third split only had to turn and burn up the stretch. Doing exactly that, Northview Hustler had 2.3 metres to spare on the line for the easiest of victories and an even easier armchair drive. “I thought we were a good chance if I could pinch a cheap quarter, but as it turned out, I was able to get away with 3 and once that happened I knew they wouldn’t run him down, he was bolting around the bend,” Barnes said. Claiming career win 399 with Northview Hustler, the elusive 400 was within reach in a season that had been underwhelming for Barnes, as he lamented some lost opportunities. Fast forward 152 minutes to Race 9, and the milestone was made official. “It was a relief to finally get to 400 wins, after a lean period in the second half of the season,” Barnes said. “It is good to get it out of the way as Brendan (Barnes), Matt (Elkins) and I were all heading towards 400 so we had a little rivalry of who would get there first.” With his younger brother Brendan and Elkins both eclipsing the mark some months back, Hayden was finally able to crack the milestone with a Saturday night success. In an ironic twist, it has likely become more memorable through the circumstances by being reached with Gee Up Neddy. Thinking that he was a place chance following from his run last week, Gee Up Neddy was safely away, although not quite in the position that many expected. “I thought I would be on the back of Havana Magic who looked the leader but the fence did not worry me at that speed,” Barnes said. “They were going too quick and I was pretty confident once I angled off the fence.” That confidence was well-placed when popping up into the running line at the 500-metre mark when Havana Magic began to wilt under the torrid trip. In a tempered and controlled drive thereafter, Gee Up Neddy arrived for a deserved win, his fourth for Barnes. In fact, it has been a successful period for the eldest of the Barnes brothers, with Hayden also owning shares in a number of other winners in recent weeks. Buying shares to provide an interest outside of his Queensland stable, Barnes has ventured into some talented horses placed in various stables around the country. Needabacardi, One Night Out, Dreamee, Stylish Trend and Ohoka Jimmy are the newest additions, with Barnes holding a percentage share in each.   THE BAD It has not been all plain sailing with Gee Up Neddy this season, with the gelding disqualified from a race in October 2019 after returning a positive swab. After some anxiety and concern into how the positive became, Neddy had the race taken off him under the rules, however no conviction or penalty was imposed on Barnes once the circumstances were identified. Following a mid-year spell, it has taken some time to get Gee Up Neddy back fully fit, with the conditions on Saturday night certainly working in his favour. Returning to the front line from the inside lane was a bonus with the eldest Barnes brother confident a top-three placing could be achieved with the nine-year-old gelding. “His run last week was good and I thought from the draw he was a solid top-three hope as I thought he was nearly back to where he should be,” Barnes said. With the disqualification and the disappointment of a season where things have not entirely gone as hoped, it has certainly ended on high. However, the racing bug bit back, with five winners in the past week, a metro double and the elusive 400 having quickly changed Barnes’ plans to reconsider his career.  “I actually was not going to renew my licence, I need a break and have had a lean spell so I was not going to bother,” Barnes said.  “After Saturday night and five for the week, I thought I better get back into it.” Winning form is the best form and it has kept Hayden in the game - for now.   THE WILDCARD Trevor Barsby was a fearless opening batsman for Queensland that has the honour of scoring a century in the State’s first ever Sheffield Shield victory. Barsby also faced up to some of the best bowlers in the world to have ever played the game of cricket, names like Garner, Marshall and Ambrose. Donny Smith was involved in a Sheffield Shield squad and was a member of the Wynnum Manly’s first ever Brisbane A Grade title when defeating the Greg Chappell led Souths outfit. Smith also faced one of the most lethal bowlers of the time in Jeff Thomson. Matt Elkins represented Queensland in his junior years where he was an accomplished player that rates Cameron Gannon as the fastest bowler he has faced. Gannon was the leading wicket taker in the most recent Shield competition and has since left Queensland after signing with Western Australia. On Saturday night, Barsby, Smith and Elkins combined to form a dynamic three-prong attack with the victory of Coolie Kid in Race 5 at Albion Park. While Barsby has had previous success as an owner, the latest victory ended a quest to achieve Saturday night glory, a goal that ‘Tank’ had been chasing for some time. A recent acquisition from New South Wales, Coolie Kid is raced by Trevor Barsby, his partner Mary Bragagnolo, his mother Lorna, along with Ian Barsby. The gritty win by the five-year-old gelding suggests the innings is far from over and that there are more runs in store.   THE MILESTONE With the 2019/20 season facing various changes as a response to the COVID pandemic, club and state premierships that involve horses will continue through to December 31. However, training, driving and other premierships that are for participants have been finalised, with the Queensland and National training title again going to Grant Dixon, rounding out the term with 290 winners. It will be the eighth time that Dixon has claimed National honours in the past nine years, with 290 winners his third highest total, surpassed only by the mammoth 340 in 2018/19 and 291 in the 2017/2018 season when finishing second to Emma Stewart. This season has seen the Dixon stable secure victories in Victoria, New South Wales and of course Queensland. Leading the stable charge has been star three-year-old Governor Jujon, who also sits in the National Starters Top Twenty with a season that has returned ten wins and over $190,000 in stake earnings. Highlights were Group victories in the South-East Derby, Colts & Geldings Triad Final, Redcliffe Sales Series 3YO Final and the Simpson Memorial. The Gov also notched up heat wins in both the Victorian and New South Wales Derby. Colt Thirty One recorded six wins for the season and took the stable to all three eastern-seaboard States, as well as to the North Island of New Zealand for the 2019 Inter Dominion. Season highlights for the five-year-old were Group victories in the Swan Hill Cup and the Queensland Cup at Albion Park. With the stable producing the quality juvenile talent to complement the established stars in The Gov and Chester, the likes of Jasper, Chamonix, Fond Memories and True Stepper will hold Dixon in good stead for another big season ahead.   THIS WEEK It is another packed week in Queensland harness racing with meetings to be held every day of the week. Kicking off the bonanza will be an eight-race card at Redcliffe on Monday night which will signal the end of the premierships for the 2019/20 season, with race 8 on the card also the last harness event in Australia for the season. Albion Park will play host to its regular weekly schedule, that takes in racing on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. Redcliffe has its standard Wednesday night and Thursday fixtures as well as the added Monday night card. The seventh meeting for the week will see Marburg host a Sunday afternoon meeting to coincide with Father’s Day. Another edition of the always popular Marburg to Albion Series will be the main attraction on the track. The series for the NR 47 to 52 performers will culminate with a final carrying $10,900 to be held on Saturday September 12.   Darren Clayton for Racing Queensland

Catch up on the weekend’s harness racing action in Racing Queensland's weekly review, thanks to Darren Clayton.   THE GOOD While the COVID-19 has slowed the kilt and bagpipe making business he owns, the current climate has allowed Doug Manger to get back into his other great passion; training pacers. That passion reached new heights on Saturday at Albion Park after Ideal Tiger was successful, providing Manger his first metropolitan winner as a trainer. Owned in partnership with wife Karen, the five-year-old gelding used the passing lane to score with Nathan Dawson taking the drive, arriving in time to claim a half-neck victory. The benefit of a good starting barrier made all the difference, with his recent performances from bad gates suggesting only a change of luck would be required to see a more favourable finish. Running some superb sectional times at his past three starts, those runs had come from gates nine, three and five, meaning barrier one was a huge improvement on his winning hopes. With an original plan to attempt to lead, the early speed shown by the outside runner Recipe For Dreaming saw Ideal Tiger take the trail before finishing best to claim victory and a maiden Saturday night training success for his trainer. Having had Saturday night success as an owner previously - through the former handy performer Enrique Of Malacca - business commitments prevented Manger from being able to prepare horses himself consistently. Purchasing a new property in late 2019, the plan was to return to training again, having prepared horses ‘on and off’ since 1990. After purchasing Ideal Tiger from New Zealand for a modest sum, the timing could not have been any better. “He was only a cheapie, but it has worked out perfectly,” Manger explained. “He arrived just as COVID hit and to be honest, I would not have bought him in from New Zealand if I knew shutdowns were about to happen.” Having his first start in the Kilt Hire Australia colours for the Mangers on March 14, the signs were positive that the gelding by American Ideal would prove competitive in Brisbane. It was at start number three when Ideal Tiger scored his first Australian victory, arriving in the closing stages to win by a narrow margin at Marburg. Further victories at Albion Park and Marburg followed, with his three wins all coming when driven by Clint Sneddon. With Sneddon unavailable as he battles ill-health, Nathan Dawson was given the opportunity to take the reins. “I gave the drive to Nathan a few weeks back and after his first drive, we discussed how I work the horse - Nathan suggested I tinker with his workout regime which I did,” the trainer said. “It seems to have just given him a little bit more speed and Saturday night it worked a treat, having that zip to get there in time.” With just a 450-metre track on the home property, Ideal Tiger does his fast work at the Marburg track. Another technique in his preparation is that he is trained from the paddock and is only put into a yard at feed time, with the remainder of his time spent roaming across twenty acres. “He has the run of the place, he only comes in for a feed and the rest of the time he just wanders -he is just such a beautiful natured horse,” Manger said. The Manger/Dawson combination has been successful in recent weeks, with another pacer that is owned by Manger – Faireachdainn – winning twice in the past month. That filly is trained by Mitchell Dawson with Nathan driving the three-year-old at both Redcliffe victories. Sired by Mr Feelgood, Faireachdainn translates to ‘feelings’ in Gaelic, with the maiden-breaking win at Redcliffe also securing connections a $10,000 first win QBRED bonus. “It has actually been a good time despite the COVID; between the two horses, they are actually paying the mortgage,” Doug remarked with a laugh. With the two horses racing at present, the Manger team also includes a three-year-old by Sweet Lou yet to race and another new addition that will hopefully be seen in the new season. “He is a QBRED and still has a second-win bonus left in him, so hopefully we can get that with him in a few months’ time,” Manger said. “But as we say, we don’t have race-horses, we have race pets,” joked Manger, who is more than happy with how his latest venture in panning out. Business may be slow, but the smile could not be bigger for Doug Manger.   THE BAD Favourite backers were left reeling last Wednesday night at Redcliffe following the relegation of Nikalong Henry. Having previously been plagued by bad manners at the start, this time it was at the end of the race where the gelding was up to his old tricks. Looking to have the race won after leading throughout the 1780-metre journey, as Nikalong Henry approached the winning post, he was off-stride and crossed the finishing line in the incorrect gait. Under rule 155A the stewards were obliged to relegate Nikalong Henry to 2nd placing and promote Holdingno Currency to first placing. A rule that is not often seen, it is the third instance of this rule that stewards have had to enforce in the past six months - the others being Tori May on February 29 and Youknowwhat on July 30. A bad beat for those that had backed the favourite.   THE WILDCARD Greg The Great has been a source of great frustration for trainer Graham Dwyer and that was no more evident than Saturday night. You would not think that winning in great style would prove frustrating, however that is exactly the case; his dominant 16-metre victory showing just how great the square gaiter can be when on his game. Speared off the gate under the mobile conditions, driver Pete McMullen kept the power on all the way over the mile. Doing it all himself out in front, Greg The Great stopped the clock in a mile rate of 1.55.1, shaving 0.6 off the previous record. The win saw the seven-year-old eclipse $100,000 in stakes earnings, bringing up his 13th Albion Park victory. It has been a continual work-in-progress for Dwyer, who has done a stellar job in getting Greg The Great to perform in the manner he has. The gelding has struggled for confidence in his racing manners for successive starts, so to reach his current level is a great testament to Dwyer’s training skills. Asking the likable trainer how he will help bolster Greg The Great’s confidence even further- “I think if he had his name on the running rail as the track record holder like they have for the pacers, it might just get him right in the zone!”   THE MILESTONE Adam Sanderson is the latest Queensland driver to enter the 100-win club following success aboard My Mastercraftsman on Friday night at Albion Park. Entering the meeting on 98 wins, Sanderson moved to 99 with the success of Thats How Weroll after the third event on the card. Not wasting any time moving into triple figures, the ton was realised just one race later. Both his Friday night winners are prepared by Ian Gurney, with Sanderson having recently joined the larrikin trainer at his Chambers Flat stables as foreman and leading driver. It is the second time the New Zealand-born reinsman has reached the century mark, having finished the 2017-18 season on exactly 100 wins. Moving past his best season was also quickly achieved when win 101 was notched aboard the Shawn Grimsey trained Rubies For Tash Saturday gone. With two weeks left in the season, the new benchmark looks set to rise.   THIS WEEK Group racing has drawn to a close after Saturday night’s APG Final, however that does not mean the race calendar is not packed full of options. Starting on Monday August 17, there will be seven consecutive days of harness action in Queensland. This week, Redcliffe will play host to four meetings - Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday. Albion Park will host its usual three meetings on Tuesday afternoon, Friday night and Saturday night. Following agreement between the Albion Park Club, sponsor Ultimate Tools and Racing Queensland, there will be twelve races added to the existing program for two-year-old and three-year-old pacers. The first of those will be held this Saturday night for two-year-olds, along with a rug and trophy to the winner - the trainer and driver will also receive a $250 voucher. The winning owner will receive a $500 voucher, courtesy of sponsor Ultimate Tools.   by Darren Clayton for Racing Queensland

THE GOOD The Marburg to Albion Park Series’ are always popular and the latest running culminated with the Final held at Albion Park on Saturday night. With five heats held at Marburg on the preceding Sunday, the first two placed runners in each heat progressed through to Saturday’s Final, run over the Albion Park 1660-metre trip. The Dudley Warburton-trained ten-year-old Bukthsystem claimed the race, using the passing lane to arrive for victory in a new career best of 1.55.5. In another superb advertisement for the longevity of the standardbred, the PB came at start number 203, recording the 14th win of his career for the rising eleven-year-old. It was a well-deserved victory, with Bukthsystem having been in great form in recent times and backed up his heat win at Marburg. In a superb training feat, Bukthsystem has raced at least three times every month consecutively since July 2018. However, it has not always been smooth sailing with the gelding for his trainer. “When he was younger, he threw me out of the cart when he was playing up and I fractured two vertebrae in the accident, that’s why we gave him the name Buk,” Warburton said. “Even now he will pull hard and is keen in the preliminary, yet when he races, he never seems to pull that much.” And it was at the instruction of his driver Nathan Dawson that some gear adjustments in recent times seem to be paying dividends. Dawson also may have provided punters with a lead in opting to drive Bukthsystem in Saturday night’s final after having the choice of drives. “Nathan said to me on Wednesday night with a cheeky grin, by the way, I will be driving Buk on Saturday night because only a bad driver will get him beat,” the trainer said. That left Dudley with some nerves to overcome as he began to feel a little bit of pressure in breaking a Saturday night victory drought. Some light-hearted banter between trainers on the night added to the mix. With trainer Graham White stabled next to Warburton on Saturday, he had a light-hearted jibe with Dawson with regards to how many winners the leading driver had reined home until that point of the evening. “Nathan replied ‘no worries Whitey, I’m about to get my first’ which then made me feel some more nerves because after what he had said Wednesday as well,” Warburton said. Dawson delivered on the promise, with a perfect drive to score victory up the passing lane. It was the first Saturday night success for Warburton since the win of Itzallinthetimin back in 2012 and a win that he won’t forget in a hurry. “It will take a while for this happiness to wear off that’s for sure,” quipped Warburton. “I hope it’s not another eight years for my next Saturday night winner.” Asked as to what sort of regime keeps Bukthsytem racing so well and consistently for such a long period now, Warburton was more than happy to reveal his secret. “Old Buk is just such a beautiful horse, my wife has him looking superb all the time - she looks after that,” he said. “I mostly let the racing keep him fit and I think when I threatened him a while back when he wasn’t going so well, it got him back into form. “You see he was racing a bit flat and so I pulled Buk aside and threatened him with retirement! “That was just what he needed and he turned the corner.” The entire Warburton family is involved in equine pursuits of some form, with a son involved in rodeo and a daughter in quarter horses. Buk even has a miniature pony in the yard next to him at the stables and all the family both two and four-legged having a contribution to Bukthsytem and his journey. “Buk is such a great horse, he even picks his hay up and will carry it to the fence so the pony can share it with him - that’s just him, he is such a great character,” Warburton said. The next race for Bukthsystem now provides Warburton with another challenge, a dilemma that he is quite happy to be faced with!   THE BAD Happiness was quickly replaced with despair at Redcliffe on Thursday following the ‘win’ of Inciter in Race 3 - the Dan Costello Photography Pace. Owned and trained by Greg Elkins and driven by his son Matt, Inciter had been winless since December 9, 2018 heading into the race. Running down the straight, Inciter was first across the line, with Doolittle Dandy using the passing lane second over the line and Major Grandeur third. Delaying the all-clear to view the patrol film, connections of the third-placed Major Grandeur lodged a protest feeling they were hampered in the run to the finish by Inciter. Following the hearing, the stewards deemed the interference greater than the winning margin, amending the official results to Doolittle Dandy first, Major Grandeur second, and Inciter in third position. Not the best day for Elkins, who had two runners in for the day; his other Tearaway Diamond also facing the ire of the stewards, banished to the trials for breaking in running.   THE WILDCARD Some people enjoy a stiff drink as a pick-me-up, and for Gail Geeson Scotch En Ice would have been the ideal tonic, with the two-year-old claiming a maiden breaking victory last Tuesday. With Geeson battling ill-health, Scotch En Ice was sent to Darren Weeks and Kylie Rasmussen to prepare. With Gail and husband Vic Frost cutting back on the workload, the COVID situation also became a factor with their stables based in Northern New South Wales at Sleepy Hollow. Scotch En Ice - a gelded son of Hurrikane Kingcole - had shown a win was not far away, having placed in two of his previous three starts. The victory last Tuesday came at his fifth career start, leading all the way in scoring a 10.8m victory in a slick 1.55.9 mile rate. With a QBRED first win bonus for Scotch En Ice, he became the seventh winner from nine foals to race for his dam Frostiness. In some bittersweet symmetry, it was also the first winner ranking Frost’s champion Westburn Grant as the sire or damsire since the dual Inter Dominion winner passed away back in late June.   THE MILESTONE The boutique stable of Stephen Cini ticked off a milestone at last Tuesday’s Albion Park meeting with the victory of Mymatepog. Scoring victory in a new personal best over the mile of 1.53.9, the win saw Cini notch up a half-century of winners for the season. Last reaching 50 winners in a term back in the 2009/10 Season with 71, the 2019/20 Season results have been returned at an impressive strike-rate. Following the win on Tuesday, Cini’s figures were 50 wins and 75 placings from 335 starters, equating to a 14.9% win and 37% place strike-rate. With only a small team, the Season has been highlighted by multiple wins from the stable including Garland Greene (seven wins), The Cruise Missile (six), The Doorman (five), The Money Ball (five), Quietly Spoken (five) and no doubt the source of tremendous frustration, Macey Jayde (four).   THIS WEEK Following the two heats of the Australian Pacing Gold Brisbane Sales Graduates, this Saturday night will see the $100,000 Group 1 Final take place. The first five across the line from each heat have progressed to the Final, with heat one winner Jasper looking mighty impressive and every bit an Oaks filly for next season. In the second heat, Chamonix made it a double for Dixon/GSM Racing trainer/owner combination and will be hoping to draw a good barrier for Saturday’s Final to challenge his stablemate. Friday’s card at Albion Park will also see the inaugural running of the QBRED Trotting Finals; a $10,000 event for the two-year-olds and a $10,000 event for the three-year-olds will be held, confirming the commitment at growing the square gait population in Queensland following on from the Springboard Series. Next Monday (August 17) will see a meeting conducted at Redcliffe, with nominations closing on Wednesday August 12. Races are programmed at $3,499 with all races also carrying a QBRED cash bonus should the winner be an eligible QBRED horse.   by Darren Clayton

SPRINGBOARD TO SUCCESS Friday night saw the running of the Springboard Series Finals for both the two and three-year-old trotters at Albion Park. It was the second running of the two-year-old series, with victory claimed by the filly Aldebaran Selena. Having claimed the 1628-metre track record in winning a heat of the Series, the daughter of Majestic Son lowered that mark once again in claiming the Final. Showing clean manners, the filly stepped straight to the front and was never bothered thereafter, trotting safely in scoring a four-metre victory over Defensive Guy, with Okanagan a further 18 metres away in third place. Trained and driven by New South Welshman Rickie Alchin, Aldebaran Selena looks to have a bright future and looks set to pave the way for continued growth of the juvenile trotter in Queensland. Meanwhile in the three-year-old division, Indefensible was looking to add the 3YO Series to his 2YO victory in this Series last year. However, the Terry Hancock-trained and Narissa McMullen-driven Aurora was the worthy winner, with a perfect display in front. Stepping straight to the front, the fill led throughout to take the inaugural Springboard for the three-year-olds. A model of consistency throughout the series, she has been faultless in her manners, stepping cleanly on every occasion. Giving nothing a look-in from the front, Aurora cruised home to an 11-metre victory, making a clean sweep of the Series in the process after taking our all four heats.   THE GOOD Racing needs good stories and the tale of Maywyns Best fits that bill. The rising 11-year-old is in career best form for trainer Graham Dwyer and on Saturday night stretched Cruz all the way over the Albion Park mile, spearing out to lead from gate four with the speed on all the way. With the slick 3.3 lead time followed by a sizzling 26.6 second opening quarter, Pete McMullen kept the gelding rolling throughout. Despite having the sit on Maywyns Best, it took Cruz until deep into the stretch to reel in the leader, scoring a near two-metre victory. It was a brave effort by ‘Bestie’ who set the quarters of 26.6, 29.6, 27 and home in 27.7 to hold on for second. Having trained the gelding for a large portion of his career for previous owners Rob and Pam Essex, the opportunity to purchase the then eight-year-old out of a claiming race was too good to pass up for Dwyer. Despite an injury enforced five months on the sidelines immediately after being claimed, Dwyer and his team have rejuvenated the son of Blissful Hall. In a tremendous season, the gelding has scored eight wins and placed a further 12 times, while running a career best winning time of 1.51.0 on June 6. It has been a watershed season for Dwyer, who currently sits in sixth position in the State Trainers Title. Career best figures look set to rise by season’s end for Dwyer, currently leading in 64 winners and a further 102 placings.   THE BAD The Winter Carnival did not eventuate the way it was envisaged, but then again nothing in 2020 around the world has really gone to script. If anyone had suggested that Cruz would be the star of the revised Queensland winter, there may well have been people scoff at the suggestion. With his position on the pecking order seeing him down the line behind the likes of Cash N Flow, King Of Swing, Alta Orlando and Replaced Eye at his home barn, he was sent to Queensland in the hope of making hay while the winter sun shines. Not only did he re-gain winning form, the Craig Cross prepared pacer has taken all before him and on Saturday night was able to secure another race victory to stay undefeated in his three starts this campaign. Without doubt the highlight was his victory in the Wondai’s Mate Open Pace, when scorching around the Albion Park oval in a 1.50.4 mile rate. That effort saw him equal the track record once held outright by one of the greatest pacers ever, in the shape of Im Themightyquinn. Following his scorching mile, the gelding backed that up with another dominant victory in the Mr Feelgood over the 2138-metre trip, in a run that was not too far off the track record held by Bling It On. Completing the hat-trick with another slick mile victory on Saturday night when stopping the clock in a 1.50.8 mile, Cruz has been the bright light of the Cross stable in Queensland. Not bad for a horse that struggles to be in the top five at home!   THE WILDCARD Always In Command started favourite in the Mr Feelgood at Egmont Park Pace on Saturday night, despite going into the contest with a ‘duck-egg’ next to his name in four of his previous five starts. That didn’t deter punters however, who were keen to support the Donny Smith-trained gelding that looked the likely leader in the 1660m event. Eh Ef El - drawn in gate one - and driver Shane Graham had other plans and hustled hard with the benefit of the inside alley to repel the challenge of Always In Command through a lightning fast 26.6 second opening split. That left Nathan Dawson at the reins of Always In Command forced to cut the breeze. Content to hold that position, Dawson put the leader away at the 400-metre mark and looked to kick clear and breaking free of the pack, holding off the closing challenge of Sir Julian to score by a head. It was a new career PB for the eight-year-old, stopping the clock in 1.51.8 for the mile. It was the 10th success since being prepared by Smith, with the former Redcliffe track record holder proving he was Always In Command.   THE MILESTONE Taleah McMullen became the latest Queensland Centurion when steering Rancho Man to success at Marburg on Sunday. Heading into the meeting, the youngest of the four McMullen siblings was on 99 winners for the term and soon made the breakthrough to triple figures for the first time in her career. Second only to Angus Garrard on the Queensland Concession Drivers Premiership, Taleah became the second female to make it 100 driving wins for the season. In the process, Taleah has joined eldest sister Narissa and brother Pete in reaching 100 wins for the term. After searching the record books, it appears that it may well be the first time in Australian harness history that three siblings have all recorded triple figures in the same season. Highlights for the youngest daughter of John and Janette have been the success of her own horse Tommy Under Fire who returned from a break triumphant in late June. More pleasing for McMullen has been the fact that the Courage Under Fire gelding spent a long time on the sidelines and took plenty of care and rehabilitation to get him back to the track.   THIS WEEK Following the five heats of the Marburg to Albion Series held on Sunday, this Saturday will see the Final held on the Albion Park Saturday night card. Winners of the heats were Bukthsystem, Pago Pago, Rancho Man, Allstar Sea and Viewbytherock who will be looking to claim a second success after taking out the last of these popular events for trainer/driver/owner Megan Gee. Friday at Albion Park will also see heats of the Australian Pacing Gold, Brisbane Sales Graduate Series. Heats for the $100,000 Group 1 Final are restricted to those horses from the 2019 APG Draft entered for the Brisbane Sale. Recent QBRED Triad winner Jasper looks set to be a big player in the series, with Don Heston - a recent acquisition to the Grant Dixon stable - also looking like he will be one to watch.   Darren Clayton for Racing Queensland

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