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During the first three weeks in July all roads in harness racing will lead to Albion Park or as it is affectionately known ‘the Creek’ for the renowned TAB Winter Carnival and the conduct of Queensland’s major feature races that will be spearheaded by the $250,000 TAB Blacks A Fake (G1) a leg of the Australasian Grand Circuit on Saturday evening 20 July 2019. The local star in Colt Thirty One trained and driven by leading horseman Grant Dixon has fired the first shot with a resounding win in a lead-up feature the Egmont Park Stud sponsored Mr Feelgood last Saturday night at Albion Park when he paced the mile and a quarter journey in a slick MR of 1:53.4. New Zealand’s top harness barn All Stars conducted by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen will head a list of prominent stables from New Zealand, Victoria and New South Wales that will be campaigning in Brisbane during this time with a list of ‘possible and probable’s that will include leading stables the likes of former NZ’ers Tim and Anthony Butt and Sonya Leigh Smith as well as the satellite stable of Mark Jones and Aaron Goadsby. New South Wales will have strong representation through campaigners Chris Frisby, Kevin Pizzuto, Scott Hewitt, John Boserio, Rickie Alchin, Robbie and KerryAnn Morris, Barry Lew, Shane and Lauren Tritton, Grant Jones, Craig Cross and Luke McCarthy whilst the Victorians will be headed by Dean Braun, Zac Steenhuis, Emma Stewart and last year’s TAB trainers bonus winner Mattie Craven to name but a few. On opening night 6 July the feature races are the $30,000 Egmont Park Stud Southeast Oaks (G3) for the three year old fillies, the inaugural running of the ‘J C McMullen’ (G3) for C2 to C5 pacers only taking a career penalty for winning this $30,000 event, the $20,000 Wayne Wilson Paleface Adios Classic for the two year olds and the Badcock Group Of Companies Lucky Creed (Listed) for the open class pacers of $25,000. The middle night 13 July sees the running of the time honoured sprint in the $100,000 Garrard’s Sunshine Sprint (G1) for the open class, the $100,000 TAB Queensland Oaks for the three year old fillies, the Egmont Park Stud Southeast Derby (G3) for the three year olds, the Fleur de Lil Ladyship (Listed) of $25,000 for the mares and the $50,000 Pryde’s EasiFeed Queensland Trotters Cup (G1) and a penalty exempt Female Driver’s Invitation of $20,000. There is every indication with the caliber of the field available for the Garrard’s Sunshine Sprint (G1) that West Australian Im Themightyquinn’s Albion Park track record for the metric mile of 1:50.4 set in this race in 2014 may be in some jeopardy!   As earlier stated the closing night on Saturday 20 July sees the running of the ‘jewel in the crown’ the prestigious TAB Blacks A Fake (G1) for the open class, the $100,000 TAB Queensland Derby for the three year olds, the $100,000 Egmont Park Stud QBred Triad Finals for the eligible two year olds, the $30,000 Ted & Edna Badcock Memorial 4YO Championship (G3), the $20,000 Haras Des Trotteurs Trotter’s Marathon and a penalty exempt Driver’s Invitation of $20,000. The record book shows that it’s a who’s who of winners of the TAB Blacks A Fake (G1) spearheaded by the races namesake who saluted on three occasions with Natalie Rasmussen in the bilke and in more recent times smart campaigners in Let It Ride, Hectorjayjay and Im Themightyquinn were successful. Silks Trackside Marquee and the famous seafood buffet will be open during the course of the TAB Winter Carnival on Saturdays 6, 13, & 20 July with bookings available by phoning the Club on 07 3262 2577.   Albion Park Harness Racing Club Media

In a funding package delivered by Racing Queensland to the three racing codes earlier this week came the announcement under the harness racing section that the Garrard’s Sunshine Sprint will have a prize money increase to $100,000 and rightfully be returned to Group 1 status. The 2019 running of the Group 1 $100,000 Garrard’s Sunshine Sprint will be conducted at Albion Park on Saturday evening July 13 on the second night of the TAB Winter Carnival. Chris Garrard (OAM), the long term sponsor of the Sunshine Sprint said ‘the announcement was great news not only for participants in Queensland but the entire harness racing industry. This is the Sunshine State and it is a race that Queenslanders can claim as their own’. He then joked ‘I only wish that I could get one good enough to race in it’. Albion Park Harness Racing Club Chairman David Fowler thanked the Garrard family on behalf of the Club for their continuous long term sponsorship of this time honored and prestigious feature event. The Garrard’s Sunshine Sprint is certainly worthy of its Group 1 status, since the races inception in 1969 when the bonny mare Teeny Reena partnered by Brian Hancock took out the inaugural edition of this sought after feature there has been a cavalcade of champions over the years that have also added their name to the honour board. Koala King won it in 1976, four years before going on to win the 1980 Inter Dominion and the legendary Paleface Adios became the first horse to win the race twice, backing up his 1973 win with another success in 1978. On the opening night of the new Albion Park 5/8th mile track in 1983, Joe Ilsley drove Amazing Trick to victory in a time of 1.59.4 to break the two minute barrier with Queenslander Wondai’s Mate successful in 1986 while another Inter Dominion winner in Thorate won it in the bi-centennial year of 1988. Into the new millennium and more big names of harness racing were etched onto the trophy including ‘Hall Of Famer’ Blacks A Fake with victories in 2007 and 2011, Mr Feelgood in 2010, Avonnova in 2015 and Hectorjayjay going back to back in 2016 and 2017. West Australian, Im Themightyquinn set the Albion Park track record for the mile journey of 1.50.4 when saluting for the father and son Hall stable in 2014.  Silks Trackside Marquee and the famous seafood buffet will be open during the course of the TAB Winter Carnival on Saturdays 6, 13, & 20 July with bookings available by phoning the Club on 07 3262 2577.   Albion Park Harness Racing

The decision has been made. Victorian based trainer David Aiken will take the reins behind his champion pacer Lennytheshark in Saturday night’s Gr.2 $50,000 Garrards Sunshine Sprint at Albion Park, the second night of the Queensland harness racing winter carnival. Unfortunately, a clash of feature race dates has prevented regular driver Chris Alford being in Brisbane to partner the $2.6 million earner. Alford is heavily committed to a large book of drives in several finals of the Vicbred Super Series at TABCORP Park, Melton across the weekend. It becomes the first time since June 28, 2013 that Alford hasn’t driven Lennytheshark under race conditions. But co-owner Martin Riseley is confident that Aiken can get the job done this week before Alford reunites next weekend in the Gr.1 $200,000 UBET Blacks A Fake. “David is aboard this weekend, he knows Lenny better than anyone and while he doesn’t drive as much as he once did, he’s still a very good driver and a proven feature race winner at Albion Park.” Riseley said. Debate has raged over the past week on who would land the drive behind the Inter Dominion/Miracle Mile winner with a number a names thrown about but following the draw, the decision was made quite easily. Lennytheshark will start from the coveted inside draw in the 1660m sprint feature, his first start in the Sunshine State. The Four Starzzz Shark entire hasn’t started since finishing third behind My Field Marshal and Mach Doro in a time of 1:50.2 when breezing in the Gr.1 $100,000 Len Smith Mile at TABCORP Park, Menangle two weeks ago. Miss Inter Dominion Natalie Rasmussen was the other driver given serious consideration of replacing Alford before Riseley and his father Kevin made the final call. “It came down to two drivers in the end and after consultation with David, we’re happy to say he will take the drive this weekend. We have close ties with Natalie through the All Stars stable in New Zealand along with Mark Purdon. “Natalie was considered because she is driving at the meeting and her deeds as a big race driver are well known plus she knows Albion Park really well. “The decision has been made and we’re really looking forward to the race, it’s a strong line-up but we expect another big effort from Lenny. We’re excited to be part of the carnival.” Aiken was a regular Queensland campaigner many seasons ago when he was previously based at Condell Park, near Sydney. He won the 1990 Queensland Oaks aboard Swing Out Sister. Another matter which has also been clarified is where Riseley will view the race. With a number of qualified finalists in Melbourne, many expected Riseley to remain local. But airline tickets have been purchased to fly north. “We’ve got some trotting fillies qualified on Friday night but I’ll be flying up on Saturday afternoon to cheer on Lenny before catching the first flight back on Sunday morning. “I must be back early on Sunday owing to my son’s (Sam) soccer fixture, it’s a big game and I don’t want to miss it.” The Riseley family shares in ownership of Patsdelight, Allthemoves, Moresuccess, Beltane and Stars Align in the Gr.1 Vicbred finals. Chris Barsby

Mach Doro is chasing his biggest payday in Queensland. The speedy pacer has arrived in the Sunshine State in readiness for a two race Brisbane winter carnival harness racing raid starting this weekend. Considered as the number two seed for the stable behind millionaire pacer Bling It On, Mach Doro gets an excellent opportunity to be the ‘main man’ following the injury setback to Bling It On suffered three weeks ago. Prepared by Craig Cross and driven by Luke McCarthy, the Mach Three gelding is chasing the big double, the Gr.2 $50,000 Garrards Sunshine Sprint followed by next week’s Gr.1 $200,000 UBET Blacks A Fake over the staying distance of 2680m. His biggest victory to date came via his first start, successful in the $20,000 Sapling Stakes at TABCORP Park, Melton three years ago. Mach Doro, raced by Dominic Martello and Doug Webster, has always shown enormous potential but is yet to snare a ‘big’ one. But he’s close. “For sheer speed, he’s right up with the very best that I’ve driven, he’s very quick and still underrated in part. The Brisbane campaign has been part of his plan for some time and he’ll be ready to showcase his talent, with an inch of luck he can cause some headaches.” Regular reinsman Luke McCarthy said. Originally prepared by astute Victorian based horseman Geoff Webster, the Australian Pacing Gold graduate won 10 of his 33 starts before being transferred to the Cross/McCarthy stable at Cobbity, near Sydney. A full brother to former juvenile star Fly Like An Eagle, Mach Doro struck instantly at TABCORP Park, Menangle before winning again at Bathurst at his next start. In 16 starts for his new stable, he has won 5 times while being a runner-up on a further 5 occasions. But mistakes this season have cost him dearly in the Gr.2 $53,000 Shirley Turnbull Memorial at Bathurst plus the Gr.1 $400,000 Victoria Cup and the Gr.1 $100,000 Bohemia Crystal FFA.   His past two efforts at Menangle have clearly demonstrated that he’s ready to take it to another level. Mach Doro was picked off late and narrowly behind Tiger Tara in the Gr.3 $31,800 Golden Mile followed by his second placed effort behind My Field Marshal in the Gr.1 $100,000 Len Smith Mile. “He’s gone two excellent races recently; he went within an inch of beating Tiger Tara in the Golden Mile but the photo result went the other way and we got beaten by a great drive last start in the Len Smith Mile by My Field Marshal and Ants (Anthony Butt – driver). “The style of racing in Brisbane will really suit this horse because they will go hard all the way in both races; I’ve just got to have him in the right spot at the right time. “He’s arrived in good order and has continued to train well so I’m looking forward to both races with him, they should be exciting races.” Mach Doro will renew his battle with the likes of My Field Marshal, Lennytheshark, Hectorjayjay and Tiger Tara among others over the next two weeks at Albion Park. McCarthy won the 2013 Blacks A Fake with Ideal Scott. The field for the Gr.2 $50,000 Garrards Sunshine Sprint will be released later today (Tuesday). Chris Barsby

The rub of the green hasn’t gone the way of the Kiwi’s leading into the 2017 Brisbane harness racing winter carnival. Brilliant open class mare The Orange Agent was ruled out earlier this month owing to a hairline fracture of the fetlock joint which was quickly followed by the news that star filly Spanish Armada was out of the Oaks features with a leg bump. And the news goes from bad to worse. Giant pacer Hughie Green is the latest casualty after suffering a cracked pedal bone to his offside front yesterday (Thursday). Naturally, trainer/driver John Cremin was left gutted by the news. “He was out having a canter and just ticking over nicely for his assignment this weekend and he took an awkward step and I knew straight away it wasn’t good. Once the vet arrived, he confirmed the worst news possible.” A dejected Cremin said. Hughie Green has been luckless in his past two starts but was heavily favoured to bounce back this weekend at Albion Park after drawing the inside gate in the Listed $25,500 Mr Feelgood Open Pace. The Art Major gelding was being set for the Gr.2 $50,000 Garrards Sunshine Sprint next week followed by the Gr.1 $200,000 UBET Blacks A Fake the following week. It’s a bitter pill to swallow for managing owner John Green given he shares in the ownership of both Hughie Green and The Orange Agent. The Orange Agent was being set for the same features. “Greeny has been around long enough to know that it can be a fickle game and unfortunately the timing couldn’t be worse, it’s just shocking luck. “I know he was looking forward to having both compete in the upcoming features and suddenly, he’s left with no representation. “He’s overseas currently and this is not the news I wanted to pass on, we’re looking at least twelve months on the sidelines at this early stage.” Since arriving from New Zealand, Hughie Green has won 4 of his 10 starts while winning 3 from 6 at Albion Park. Millionaire Bling It On and the regally bred Rocker Band are other casualties of the carnival. The chances of New Zealand pacers landing feature race glory still remain high through the deeds of outstanding three-year-old fillies Delightful Memphis and Partyon in the Queensland Oaks while The More The Better looms as the horse to beat for the Queensland Derby on July 15. Chris Barsby

Hectorjayjay has won the harness racing Garrard’s Sunshine Sprint tonight at Albion Park in a last-minute run from behind that has to be seen to be believed. The bay gelding spent the vast majority of the race in the back of the field, only making his run for the line at the 400 metre mark sitting five wide. Hectorjayjay is in the midst of brilliant form, beating his stable mate and Inter Dominion winner Lennytheshark only recently in the Len Smith Mile, and now running down the brilliant Christen Me to take out tonight’s feature race. Handler and travel companion of Hectorjayjay, Kima Fenning, said she was used to the horse coming from  behind but tonight’s late run had her thinking. “To be honest, I wasn’t too worried at the start of the race because I’ve seen him come from way behind before, but at the 400 mark when he was still second last I thought we were in a bit of trouble,” “I saw when he came out on the top of the straight, I saw him put in that little extra that he does, but then again I saw Christen Me get a run and I thought “Oh, we might be in trouble here”, but he’s just an amazing horse and he never puts in a bad run, he just always does that little bit extra,” said Fenning. Harness racing Operations Manager Brett Rail was impressed with the great run and the flow-on effect it has for harness racing. “It was an outstanding race, and it’s the type of race that brings people back to trotting,” “To see the son of Dream Away come from the tail of the field in a virtually impossible position to beat horses like Christen Me, who’s probably the best in Australasia, it was an outstanding field and an outstanding race.” “I think Hectorjayjay is the next one on the block, he’s ready to take over the mantle and become the best horse in Australasia I’m sure,” Rail added. The 2016 DPMA Queensland Oaks (2138m) was another high-quality race on the cards tonight, with the gutsy three-year-old filly Nek Time (Gotta Go Cullect) working hard to grab the lead early and take home the win in a blistering time of 2 minutes 34.2 seconds. Brett Rail praised the run and the stunning victory. “The winner Nek Time was an absolutely outstanding run, she did so much work early and through the run,” “It was a super-fast time, and the way that horse just kept going it was just an unforgettable race to watch, hopefully she goes on to the Derby for a Picket Fence next week,” Rail added. The 2016 Garrard’s Gold Coast Derby was the other feature race of the night, and it was always going to be a hard to separate the contenders, all entrants very even on paper. Both the winner Charlaval and runner-up Stanly Ross Robyn did a great job to grab their win and place, Rail full of praise for the quality three-year-olds. “It was an outstanding field of three-year-olds, Charlaval from the draw had a good run and was an outstanding winner,” “There are a number of horses in that race that can easily win the Derby, barrier draws are going to be all important for that one,” said Rail. The ground-breaking Picket Fence promotion offers trainers and owners the chance to win a share of $111,000 in bonuses if their horse can win three races in a row in Queensland including one of four feature races on Blacks A Fake Night. At this time the Bill Cosby-trained Slippery Jade is eligible for the two-year-old filly’s bonus, Chris Petroff’s Maestro Bellini is eligible for the two-year-old colt’s and gelding’s bonus, while the Chmiel-trained Nek Time will be in the running for the bonus in the Derby. Blacks A Fake night will be held next Saturday, July 16.  

Harness Racing Form analyst Trent Orwin previews the Group 2 Sunshine Sprint (1660m) at Albion Park on Saturday night.    The biggest question that arises is which Ultimate Art will leave the gate on Saturday night? Will it be the last-start-winning Ultimate Art who showed plenty of gate speed to lead, or will it be the one from two starts ago who was easily crossed when beginning from barrier one?   Let’s hope it is the six-year-old entire that can hold up because our chances hinge upon that. If Ultimate Art is crossed at the start, it is going to be extremely hard for the Cran Dalgety-trained seven-year-old champion Christen Me.    This race will be run at a very strong tempo but it should be dominated by those on the speed.    I can only envision four winning chances no matter how the race is run and they are Ultimate Art, Avonnova, Christen Me and Hectorjayjay.   Avonnova must lead in order to win the race; he is racing in excellent form and can run a great race from the breeze but it is hard to fight off high-quality horses that haven’t spent a penny in the run.   So down to three chances. When I first saw the draw I thought Hectorjayjay can get a great run and swoop over the top of them. But then I delved deeper into the numbers and realised that Hectorjayjay is going to be three, four or five-wide in a last half that should be around the 55-second mark.    Running a personal last half of 54 seconds is definitely in Hectorjayjay’s arsenal. Trying to gun down horses that can also run a similar last half on the pegs is another question and it remains to be seen where this star pacer will land in running.   Ultimate Art has been in beast-mode in Queensland and thoroughly deserves a big race win this season. He is going to cop plenty of pressure and could be left a sitting shot for Christen Me.   I’m sure some people were disappointed that Christen Me was beaten last start when $1.60 favourite but the run was terrific. He covered plenty of ground in the final circuit and clocked somewhere close to 54.8 seconds for his own last half while racing off the track for most of the final 800m.    Glenferrie Hood came from behind Christen Me to beat him which seems an immediate concern about how good the Kiwi’s run was, but there was a reason for that; Glenferrie Hood left the 1 out 2 back position with 300m left to travel to run down Christen Me by a 1.1m margin. In contrast, Christen Me made his run with around 550m left to travel and the third quarter (27.6) was quicker than the final quarter (28.2).   As mentioned earlier, the start is crucial so let’s hold our breath, hope Ultimate Art leads with Christen Me on his back and wait for Dexter Dunn to use the sprint lane to charge past the leader and claim another feature race success with this New Zealand champion.   reprinted with premission of

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

Outstanding Kiwi pacer, Christen Me, will have to overcome a tricky second line draw if he is to win Saturday night’s harness racing Group Two Sunshine Sprint at Albion Park. The Cran Dalgety trained gelding will start from the inside of the second row in the 1660m event - the same draw which saw him beaten in the Wondias Mate two weeks ago. On that occasion his regular pilot, Dexter Dunn, was able to extricate his charge off the fence and into the running line early but that task might not be quite as simple this week. In his favour is that he follows out an in-form Ultimate Art who does have strong gate speed. So Dunn will have a decision to make early on as to whether or not he takes the gamble at staying on Ultimate Art’s back or whether he tries to get off the fence again. Dalgety, who is currently holidaying with his family in America, said late last week that Christen Me had progressed on nicely since his first up run and was doing well in the care of his travelling companion, Murray Howard. “The reports from Muz have all been very positive,” Dalgety said. “He should be an improved horse with that run under his belt but he will have to be because it’s going to be a lot stronger this time round.” Len Smith Mile winner, Hectorjayjay has made the trip to Queensland for this week and then next’s weeks $200,000 Blacks A Fake - while Ohoka Punter adds another dimension to the race as well. The Nathan Purdon trained pacer, who was third in the Len Smith Mile after doing a power of work hasn’t been blessed with a great barrier draw either, starting from the outside of the second line. Fellow Kiwi pacer, Nek Time received a much better draw in her bid to win back-to-back Oaks for Terry and Glenys Chmiel. The speedy filly, who dominated Saturday night’s Gold Coast Oaks has drawn up well in barrier four this week for the $75,000 Group One Queensland Oaks. Owned by Robert and Sharyn Symon, Nek Time is an outside chance of extending her Brisbane stay to contest next week’s Queensland Derby. If she was to win this week she would then be in line for a $30,000 bonus as part of the UBET Picket Fence Initiative which rewards horses who can win twice in the lead up to the grand finale night of racing on July 16 and win one of four selected races on that programme. Already a winner of the Southland Oaks and Harness 5000 on New Zealand soil this season a win this weekend and then potentially even the following week would cap off an incredible season. From 16 starts this season the daughter of Gotta Go Cullect has won on six occasions with six further placings. She’s won $90,000 in the process with the promise of a lot more both on and off the track in the future. Matt Markham

Richly talented open class performer Mach Alert is out of the winter harness racing carnival. The Mach Three gelding has been battling hoof issues and trainer Ian Gurney has reluctantly made the decision to back off and allow him time to fully recover. Mach Alert was aiming at the Gr.2 $50,000 Garrards Sunshine Sprint (July 9) followed by the Gr.1 $200,000 UBET Blacks A Fake the following week. “It’s disappointing but the horse comes first, his whole career has been thwarted by injuries and niggling setbacks and this is just another one of those issues that we have to deal with. He’s got bad corns and I’m going to get them sorted, you can’t take on horses like Christen Me, Hectorjayjay, Ohoka Punter, Ultimate Art and Nova when you’re not right so he’s out.” Gurney explained The former Queensland Derby winner recorded back to back victories recently at Albion Park including the Listed $25,000 Flashing Red but failed at his most recent start. Mach Alert finished a well beaten 8th at his most recent start in the Gr.3 $30,000 Lucky Creed on June 18 at Albion Park, the race was won by his stablemate Avonnova. While it’s disappointing for Gurney, the popular horseman still has two chances heading into the open class features with dual Queensland Horse of the Year Avonnova plus former Queensland Pacing Championship winner Ideal Scott. Both pacers are racing in excellent form. Avonnova starts on Saturday night in the Listed $25,000 Mr Feelgood at Albion Park where hostilities will be renewed with Ultimate Art. The free legged pacer ended the winning sequence of Ultimate Art at 8 wins in their most recent outing in the Lucky Creed two weeks ago. This week, Avonnova faces a tricky draw on the inside of the second-line while Ultimate Art has drawn ideally in gate two in the 2138m mobile start feature. Ideal Scott will next start in the Sunshine Sprint next week after running a slashing second in the Wondais Mate last week behind the late closing Glenferrie Hood in a time of 1:52.4. The American Ideal gelding led up in the 1660m feature. Chris Barsby

The 2016 Racing Queensland UBET winter carnival is fast approaching and in the coming weeks, Queensland harness racing broadcaster Chris Barsby will profile a number of major players vying for the top prizes. With 18 Black Type races on the program for the 2016 Winter Carnival, the carnival’s pinnacle in 2016 is the G1 Blacks A Fake, which now boasts an impressive $200,000 in stakes. The carnival spans from May 28 to July 30. Here’s a profile featuring a talented open class performer that will take on the best in the free-for-all features during the carnival. Name: Glenferrie Hood Stable Name: Hoody Age: 6yo gelding Owner: Daniel, Sam & Patrick Mustica, Robert & Greg Dick, Kevin Strahan, Dean Cheney, Rob Chivilo & Joe Zlaman Trainer: Vicki Rasmussen Driver: Pete McMullen Prizemoney: $223,270 Biggest win: Gr.3 Wondais Mate & Gr.3 Terang Cup Target: UBET Picket Fence Challenge – Gr.2 $50k Sunshine Sprint & Gr.1 $200k Blacks A Fake Trainer says: “A real surprise packet for the stable! Originally the main focus was going to be the Redcliffe Cup and we’ll probably still head that way but his improvement has been very impressive since arriving and his recent victory in the Wondais Mate didn’t completely shock us. The Sunshine Sprint and Blacks A Fake are his immediate targets so that will an even bigger test but so far, so good for this big horse.” Barsby says: “I didn’t expect to see him come off the back of a horse like Christen Me and run him down like he did the other night but full marks to him, the winning effort was quite impressive when you break it down. It will only get tougher from here but the guaranteed speed in these upcoming features will suit him, if he lands a good draw in any of those races, he won’t be far away. He’s thriving in the sunshine state!”

Super pacer Christen Me has come through the first run of his Australian harness racing campaign with flying colours. The gelding’s trainer, Cran Dalgety said on Monday that there was a bounce in the step of his star on Monday morning after he was initially a quite tired horse on Sunday. Christen Me finished third in Saturday night’s Wondias Mate at Albion Park. The defeat was a shock one, but considering he drew one on the second line over a mile and was then forced three and four wide in a 27.1 third quarter, the run of the former Miracle Mile winner was full or merit even though the winner, Glenferrie Hood, came off his back inside the final 150 metres to swamp him and leader Ideal Scott. “I thought the run was super. Dexter (Dunn) said he was flying coming off the back,” Dalgety said. “He was a bit jaded yesterday and then again today. “But there was a bit of a bounce in his step this morning as well so I’m happy with where we are at. “I guess initially it probably looked disappointing, but when you break it all down it was a very good run. “And it’s a run which he will improve on. “He tries so hard every time he races so it seems to take a little extra out of him than it might another horse so his recovery is just as important as anything else.” The defeat, and the decision not to race again until the Sunshine Sprint on July 9 means that they will forgo the opportunity to win a $50,000 bonus as part of the UBet Picket Fence initiative. Horses are required to win two races in the lead up July 16, which has been touted as Finale night with four selected races carrying bonuses if their winners have won two races in the lead up the meeting. Christen Me’s bonus was worth $50,000 but Dalgety was happy to now be looking ahead to the two major assignments without any other distraction. “It would be nice, it’s $50,000 after all but the horse owes us nothing so he comes first. “That should ensure now we are ready for the next two races and are firing on all cylinders.” Dalgety is due to return to Christchurch today with Christen Me’s right hand man, Murray Howard taking over the day-to-day control of the pacer in the lead up to the Blacks A Fake. “Muz knows the horse better than anyone. “He’ll have him ready for the big show I’m sure of that.” Back on home soil Dalgety has a race of his own to focus on. He’s currently third on the national trainers’ premiership with 57 wins, but has the Greg and Nina Hope (55), Mark Jones (52) and Phil Williamson (51) stables breathing down his neck.  He’s got 13 horses engaged over three meetings in both the South and North Islands this weekend including unbeaten two-year-old On The Rantan who will look to make it three wins in as many starts in his bonus run in the C1 grade at Addington on Thursday night. Matt Markham

Despite tasting defeat, talented young harness racing horseman Nathan Purdon walked away from last Sunday’s Sydney feature meeting a content person. Purdon prepared Ohoka Punter for the Gr.1 $100,000 Len Smith Mile at Menangle and the star pacer produced a courageous effort to fill third placing behind the David Aiken duo of Hectorjayjay and Lennytheshark in a time of 1:50.5. Following two brilliant victories at Albion Park, connections decided to take at throw at the stumps and head south for the sprint feature rather than stay and wait in Brisbane for the upcoming winter carnival features. And the two start campaign proved very successful. “He performed at a very high level in both starts, his first-up win was very impressive and I thought his effort in the Len Smith was very commendable given how much work he did and the time they posted. The top two finishes are wee nice horses.” Purdon said. The New Zealand horseman has returned to Brisbane and Ohoka Punter is due back tomorrow (Thursday) in readiness for next week’s Gr.2 $50,000 Garrards Sunshine Sprint followed by the Gr.1 $200,000 UBET Blacks A Fake the following week. The open class features during the carnival are loaded with stars including Hectorjayjay, Christen Me, Avonnova and Ultimate Art but Ohoka Punter is right there with them and Purdon is just hoping for some luck. “The Brisbane style of racing is very hard and a little unforgiving so we need to be at our best and have lady luck on our side in both events. The barrier draw for each race will go a long way in determining who gains the advantage. “The best part about last Sunday was the way he came through the race, I couldn’t be happier with the way he pulled up and his recovery was great so that’s very pleasing as we head into the Brisbane features.” Champion reinsman Anthony Butt handled the dual Group One winner in Sydney but Purdon will take the lines himself in both Albion Park features. The barrier draw for the Sunshine Sprint will be conducted next Tuesday (July 5). Chris Barsby

Reigning Queensland Horse of the Year Avonnova is warming up nicely ahead of the Brisbane harness racing winter carnival. The free-legged pacer will tackle the Gr.1 $100,000 Sunshine Sprint on July 4 before tackling the Gr.1 $125,000 Blacks A Fake on July 18, both events will be staged at Albion Park. Avonnova has not started since contesting the Inter Dominion Grand Final in Sydney back on March 1 won by Beautide. Co-owner and trainer Ian Gurney took his ‘stable star’ to a public trial yesterday (Tuesday) at Albion Park in preparation for his pending winter campaign. Regular reinsman Shane Graham took the drive behind Avonnova in the 1660m workout and finished as a runner-up after settling a long way back from his second-line draw in a time of 1;58.9. Splits were recorded in 29.7, 31.3, 29.6 and 28.6 seconds. “He felt as good as he looked; he wasn’t there to do anything serious and it was more of case of getting him off the training track and allowing him to stretch his legs. I was happy to sit back and then just let him run through the line over the final part, he did what was required and it’s a nice start point for the campaign ahead.” Graham said. It is expected that Avonnova will trial again next week before connections look for a suitable race to kick start his campaign. Last year, the son of Art Major ran third in the Sunshine Sprint before finishing as a runner-up in the Blacks A Fake; both races were won by champion pacer Im Themightyquinn. “It would be great to win one or both of these races next month, they’re great races and their great Queensland events so we’ll be giving it our best shot but the interstate and New Zealand raiders will take some beating. “We will get more serious in his next trial which will bring him up to speed for his return, he will take good benefit from that trial yesterday and it will be much the same next week too. I thought he looked super yesterday, the breakaway has done him the world of good and he’s really muscled up and looks fantastic in his coat. “The track record (1;50.4) was set last year by Im Themightyquinn in the Sunshine Sprint and I wouldn’t be shocked to see it given a shake this year. Given the track underwent some major upgrades and it’s now settling combined with some of the horses that are heading for these features, it could be possible.” Avonnova is the winner of 14 races at Albion Park. by Chris Barsby

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