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Pint-sized pacer One Off continues to defy the believers. The former New Zealand pacer was bought for a ‘song’ after failing to win a race his native country but has turned his fortunes right around since arriving in Queensland. Leading owner Greg Mitchell took a punt on the McArdle – Jay Bee’s Gem gelding and placed him with his trainer, leading horseman Grant Dixon. Mitchell enjoyed good success with another of McArdle progeny several seasons ago, Only The Brave (28 wins - $268k) Since being based in the Sunshine State, One Off has never tasted defeat after winning a trial and then three racetrack triumphs. One Off scored a stylish victory in his Queensland debut when successful at Redcliffe on September 6 before conquering the Marburg to Albion Park heat/final series. Starting as a clear favourite despite an awkward second-line draw, One Off ($2.10) sat at the rear of the field before unleashing a powerful sprint with 500m left to run. In the end, he scored by a widening margin of 13.9m while rating 1:58.8 for the 2138m event. “He’s been a real surprise package for the stable, even after his trial victory I didn’t have any lofty ambitions for him but he’s continued to improve and strengthen each time we’ve taken him to the races. Obviously the pace was on but he let down nicely when I called on him going down the back straight, he’s headed in the right direction and will win more races.” Dixon said. But future plans remain unclear and Dixon is now scanning the calendar and weighing up his options. However, nothing is set in concrete at this stage. “Hopefully, we can find and target a few more of these heat/final series and keep him progressing through his grades at a nice rate. Like I said, he’s got some nice upside to him. “I like his versatility, in his three starts he’s proven he can race and adapt quickly so that’s a good thing going forward. “We’ll reassess the race and keep looking at what comes up but there aren’t really any solid plans.” Meanwhile, the Dixon/Mitchell combination struck in the Remembering Speed Ace Open Pace when Alleluia made it four straight victories. Backing-up from Monday, the Art Major gelding landed perfect one out/one back cover and proved too good in the straight holding out Bodhi Tree and Ohoka Punter in a time of 1:54.0. The perennial performer has claimed the current title as the best open class performer in the state given his recent form surge. “He’s a great old performer and his win streak is very satisfying, we’ve changed his work routine around and it’s obviously working while the track is a little softer at present and that’s playing a role. “We’ll just keep ticking him along but we’re likely to nominate for the Inter Dominion series given his current form.” The 2018 Inter Dominion series starts on December 1 and will be staged in Victoria this year. Chris Barsby

Jack Butler has made another flyer to the new season. Fresh from another century season during the 2017/18 term, his third straight, the former Bathurst horseman has jumped out of the blocks quickly and currently leads the way in the Sunshine State. Boasting 11 victories from his 34 starters to date, Butler is hungry to reach triple figures again. Butler has tallied seasons of 110, 119 and 111; he is now firmly established in the top bracket of trainers in Queensland. And he has a number of good chances again this weekend. Butler will take a team of 7 pacers to Albion Park this Saturday night. “If I was to nominate my best chance I would have to say Mandy Kriden, the mare is absolutely flying at presently and looks well suited against her opposition this weekend. Her past three wins have been really impressive in different ways so I’m confident she’ll race well again.” Butler said. Based at Logan Village on the south side of Brisbane, Butler has severely cut numbers with the change in season and is now working a team of 25. At one point last season, the numbers swelled to over 40. A season highlight last season was evergreen performer Markey Oh Markey taking the $20,630 Flashing Red Handicap at Albion Park; the stable stalwart is a last start winner and lines up in the Remembering Speed Ace Open this weekend. Markey Oh Markey takes on the likes of Ohoka Punter, Bodhi Tree, Glenferrie Hood and Alleluia in the 1660m event. “He’s a great old performer and he’s back in good form again, this week looks a lot tougher but he’s drawn the rail and can fill a place. When he won the Flashing Red, it was a great feeling because he’s been part of the stable ever since we made the permanent move up here. “The century probably took a little longer and was a little harder compared to previous seasons but we got there in the end and it’s very satisfying. Tara (wife) and Chloe (daughter) play such an integral part of my success while having Brendan (Barnes – driver) back is great because I believe in his ability. “I’m looking forward to the season ahead, it will be a challenge again and hopefully we can generate some new clients and stock and keep building on what we achieved so far. Chloe is likely to make her driving debut at some point this season which will be exciting, here’s hoping for another century.” Butler enjoyed good success with pacers and trotters last season and has a number of new trotters in his care. Chris Barsby

Some great stories will be re-lived at Albion Park tomorrow night. The Albion Park Harness Racing Club will celebrate 50 years of night trotting at 'The Creek'.  The first meeting under lights took place on Saturday 7 September 1968, in front of packed grandstands with an estimated crowd of 15,000 and over 60 bookmakers fielding at the meeting. Curly Adios won the opening race on the program while the feature event was taken out by star performer Stormy Water at a very short quote. Many that have played a role during that time will be present while other family members will also be represented; it’s a night of celebration and a great chance to reminisce. Ian Gurney has many fond memories of Albion Park, largely owing to the deeds of mighty pacer Avonnova, a triple Queensland Horse of the Year. The Chambers Flat horseman returns to the famed Breakfast Creek oval with a team of four pacers competing across two races. Smooth Showgirl and Ideal Scott will contest the Welcome Advice Open Pace over 1660m while Our Hi Jinx and Sparkling Cullect start in the Stanley Rio Pace over 1660m. The quartet are resuming from lengthy breaks. “It’s good to be back, I’ve had an ordinary time of it lately owing to viruses and other niggling setbacks in my team but we’re back amongst it. I’m happy with all of them but obviously they will improve with whatever they do this weekend.” Gurney said. All four runners have had a number of trials in recent weeks to be readied for their respective assignments and Gurney is hoping for some luck. Talented reinsmen Adam Sanderson (Smooth Showgirl & Our Hi Jinx) and Paul Diebert (Ideal Scott & Sparkling Cullect) will handle the team. “Most have been off the scene for 15 weeks or longer so it’s tough coming straight back into this grade but there’s no other options for them. All their work and preparation has been pleasing and now it’s just a matter of getting back out there and getting the miles into their legs. “Smooth Showgirl won her most recent trial on Tuesday night when leading most of the way; she’s got class and landed a good draw so I’m hopeful she will measure up. Ideal Scott has drawn a touch wide with some in-form runners drawn to his inside so he might require some luck. “Both Our Hi Jinx and Sparkling Cullect should prove competitive, their trial form is pretty good and the small field will suit both of them. It looks like being a good night and I’m happy to be part of it.” Gurney listed the victory of Avonnova in the Gr.1 $100,000 Sunshine Sprint back in 2015 as his best memory at the track while Our Hi Jinx deserves special mention following his triumph in the 2015 Gr.1 $200,000 Queensland Pacing Championship.   Chris Barsby

On Saturday, September 8, the Albion Park Harness Racing Club will celebrate 50 years of night trotting at 'The Creek'.  The first meeting under lights took place on Saturday 7 September 1968, with packed grandstands with an estimated crowd of 15,000 and close to 80 bookmakers.  Some legends of the sport both past and present will be in attendance to share their memories of the night, and to cheer on the current generation on the 10-race metropolitan program. In the lead-up to the meeting, we caught up with some people who have played a leading role in Albion Park over the past 50 years. Racing Queensland will have many more in next month's edition of PACE Magazine.  Kevin Thomas – former leading harness trainer/driver Kevin Thomas was the leading Australian driver for three seasons running, his most prolific being the 1976/77 season when he steered 174 winners. He is now well-known for his highly successful spelling and pre-training facility Washpool Lodge near Aratula, which has hosted champions such as Black Caviar, Buffering and Black Heart Bart. My favourite moment was probably finishing third in the 1977 Inter Dominion with Sporting Sun. He was owned by Victorian interests and they sent him here to Queensland to race with me. He was always a good horse but he really thrived here in Queensland. He ran third in the final that night and I can remember the stands were packed. They were the days when there was 40 bookmakers under the trees at Albion. Silks Restaurant was always full, you couldn’t get in there unless you booked. It was unbelievable, the crowds, the bookies and the competition very fierce. We had some really good trainers ... They had big teams of horses and were really competitive. Kevin Seymour AM – Lifelong harness fan, former APHRC committeeman and owner/Breeder Mr Seymour has bred and raced some of the greatest horses seen on Queensland race tracks. On opening night back in 1968, Mr Seymour was working at the club. He remembers the night fondly. And, despite the countless feature wins he has shared in over the years, one Albion Park winner stands above the rest. There was 15,000 people there on opening night and the club employed 110 staff and 79 bookmakers. The crowd was that big we had tractors with carriages towed behind them to bring customers from the infield across to where the stand was. The chair of the club was Sir Clive Uhr, who was also the chair of the Brisbane Amateur Turf Club at the time, and it was the first time that a trotting meeting had been held under lights. The first race was won by Curly Adios and was trained by Sam Zammit. It was a very popular result. I think there was eight races on the night and the (standard) prize money was about $775 per-race. That was pretty good prize money for the day, in relative terms. One win that stands out for me over the years was a horse I owned called Crazy Chief – I bought him with a deposit for a lounge suite that I was to buy for my wife. I went down and put $200 on the nose and he won at 10-1. He paid for himself right there and then. That’s what hooked me on harness racing and I’ve been hooked ever since. Brett Rail – Racing Queensland Harness Manager (Operations) Brett Rail has a lifelong love of harness racing, which has extended into a career in administration at both Harness Racing Queensland based at Albion Park and now at Racing Queensland. Once upon a time, Mr Rail was a keen owner and punter. This is just one of his favourite memories of Albion Park over the many years. I have many fond memories of Albion Park over the years not only with horses I owned that were successful at Albion Park such as The Power Of Chris, Lethal Reign, Cams Crusader, Tilman and The Demolition Man but memories of great wins such as Village Kid’s Interdominion, Thorate’s track record breaking win and Riverlea Jack’s Winter Cup win against an outstanding field in a closing quarter of 27 flat which was unheard of at the time. Importantly I also met my wife Amanda at Albion Park. Perhaps my greatest memory is a win by a horse called Sammy Batman. I spent about $10 on a multiple double with bookmaker Andy Pippos who was keen to take my money with Sammy Batman in the last leg at 25/1. Horses in my earlier legs had won and, if I remember correctly, two of them were Peppermint Pattie and Toura. The late Darrell Alexander celebrating a win in-front of a packed house at Albion Park. Coming into the last race my brother Craig Rail, who at the time was practising race calling into a hand-held recorder from the grandstand, declared Sammy Batman as no chance. In the straight Sammy Batman stormed home to win by a nose with Craig declaring “he’s won” in astonishment as they crossed the line. To this day I consider this his greatest ever race call. Needless to say, Andy Pippos was not overly happy in paying out the substantial sum won on the multiple double. Sammy Batman never won another race. Ron Wanless – former trainer, driver and owner Ron Wanless made his name across a variety of sports, but had a real love for harness racing. Son of the great trainer/driver Merv Wanless, who prepared the great Queensland champion Lucky Creed, Ron and his brothers Keith and Leigh were steadfast figures at Albion Park. There was one night at Albion Park that holds special memories for me. I had won the first 18 races for two-year-olds in Queensland in the 1981 season and it was the Sapling Stakes for two-year-olds. My horses ran first, second, third and fifth, but I can’t remember the fifth horse off the top of my head. It was a proud moment and I believe the first time anyone had trained the winning trifecta in a feature race in Queensland. Ron Wanless' father, Merv Wanless, prepared the great Lucky Creed.  The success of Albion Park trotting wouldn’t have been possible without Russell Hinze (former racing minister). I remember walking into Silks Restaurant during the 1980s and you’d see Russell and his wife Fay sitting there with his two Rottweilers in the corner – he was the only person allowed to bring dogs in. I trained horses for Russell, he was a good bloke. One day, he rang me and said, “Son, I’ve done it. I’ve got Albion Park for the trots.” I couldn’t quite believe it. That was a very special moment because we’d been fighting for years to get it. He loved trotting more than racehorses or greyhounds, although he did own a couple of successful thoroughbreds (notably Our Waverley Star).  Former Queensland Racing Minister Russell Hinze (right), with then Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen.  I loved trotting because it was a family sport. My dad was a champion trainer. He reared me and my three brothers and sisters on trotting horses. What I loved was that you could own, train and drive your own horse. Damian Raedler – CEO Albion Park Harness Racing Club Damian Raedler has enjoyed a close association with ‘The Creek’ for 35 years. Mr Raedler was the club’s longest-serving CEO (1983-2003) before spending time as the CEO of HRNSW and as the Racing Operations Manager for Harness Racing Queensland and Racing Queensland. I was the CEO responsible for the conduct of three successful Inter Dominion Carnivals at Albion Park in 1986 (Village Kid), 1993 (Jack Morris) and 2001 (Yulestar). I was also heavily involved in the conduct of the 2009 series (won by Mr Feelgood USA) hosted by the APHRC at the Gold Coast. I’d have to say hosting all three at Albion Park was a real honour for me to successfully run and represent the club at an executive level. In those days the series was heavily covered by all of the publications in Queensland. Village Kid winning every heat and the final was a special memory. There was the best part of 20,000 people there on the night of the final, with a temporary grandstand and infrastructure placed in the Member’s carpark. During this time there was no SKY Racing Channel so I negotiated with the ABC to cover it. They produced a half-an-hour special, which showed the last lap of the heats and then an hour-long special on the night of the final.  Jack Morris’ win in 1993 holds both fond and sad memories. Jack Morris’ trainer Sean Harney, who I was close friends with, was suffering cancer and died soon after. This meeting was also covered by the ABC at a cost of $40,000.   RQ Media

With 12 days of the current season remaining, a question needs to be asked. Can Grant Dixon crack the 300 mark? As it stands, no trainer in Australian harness racing history has ever prepared more than 300 winners in a single season but that record is under immense pressure. Ironically, the current training record belongs to W.F Dixon, Grant’s father Bill, who prepared 299 winners during the 2010/11 season. But both Emma Stewart and Grant himself are rapidly closing in on that magical and somewhat mythical figure of 300, the Victorian based Stewart has trained 286 winners while Dixon has a tally of 284. Extraordinary numbers indeed. During the current term, harness fans and historians have witnessed champion reinsman Chris Alford break the record for most wins in a single season with his tally currently at 434 and still climbing. The previous mark belonged to Daryl Douglas at 388. Fair to say, the 2017/18 season has been a season of record breaking achievements. For Dixon, this current season will be his best as he will eclipse the mark he set last term when he prepared 286 winners. Since taking over from his father Bill at the commencement of the 2011/12 season, Grant has trained in excess over 200 winners every year since with figures of 265, 226, 260, 282, 246 and 286. During that time frame, Dixon has been the leading state trainer plus the leading trainer in the country! In fact, the Dixon name has sat atop of the National Premiership since the 2007/08 season. And during that reign, over 200 winners have been churned out each and every season. In the next 12 days, Dixon has 9 meetings in his home state while he will also compete at the Breeders Crown meeting at TABCORP Park, Melton this Saturday night. But he isn’t represented at tomorrow’s meeting at Albion Park while he has three runners engaged at Redcliffe on Wednesday night. And more are expected later this week. So, can he do it? Only time will tell but it’s quite remarkable given Queensland races only five times a week while the odd extra meeting is added here and there but most times the Dixon is not represented at those additional meetings. Many other states race seven days a week while at times, they stage 2 meetings per day. Bottom line, the Dixon numbers are very impressive. On nine occasions, he has prepared 5 or more winners at a meeting. And he’s achieved that feat on three occasions this season, twice at Albion Park (11/11/17 & 12/5/18) and once at Redcliffe (4/4/18). His best effort was 6 winners at a Gold Coast meeting back on June 14, 2013. The watch is on and time is ticking. Chris Barsby

It was a great weekend for Darrel Graham. But overall, it’s been a great year for his stable. The Fernvale horseman landed winners at each of the three meeting staged in the South East; Albion Park on Friday afternoon followed by Kilcoy on Saturday afternoon before backing up at Albion Park later that night. His winners came via Regal Rock, Franco Totem and Springbank Eden. A mixture of pacers and a trotter. Graham is a great supporter of grass track racing and provided plenty of support for the Kilcoy meeting with eight runners for the three events staged. When Franco Totem scored, he led home a first four result for the stable with Ruffalo, Tact Ollie and Itz Pleasurable filling the placings behind him. And it was the same again in the following race, My Mastercraftsman is prepared by Graham’s foreman Adam Sanderson, the talented performer defeated the Graham trained trio of Rory Mach, Mafuta Vautin and Drive The Dream. A quasi result for the Fernvale stable. “We had some luck and got some good results at Kilcoy, it’s always a great day and it’s something different for both horse and driver. It works really well in New Zealand and it’s a different spectacle compared to the traditional way of racing.” Graham said. The victories across the weekend have added to what is the best season for the respected horseman, his tally now sits at 143. Only Grant Dixon has prepared more winners in his home state while he is fourth in the national premiership race with Emma Stewart, Dixon and Kerryann Turner having prepared more winners. While Graham has driven more than 2000 winners, his training results have been equally impressive. Prior to the current term, his hauls have netted him figures of 107, 89, 125, 122 and 131. His best season came during the 2012/13 season before easily eclipsing that mark this year. With time ticking on the current season, can he break into the 150’s? “We’re close now so we’ll give it a go, it would be a major effort to train over 150 winners and there are a lot of people that have played a significant role in that success. You can’t achieve figures like this on your own so I’d like to thank everyone for their help. “Obviously my wife Linda and two daughters Brittany and Stephanie plus Adam (Sanderson) and Jacob (Wallace) have been the backstop; it’s really a team effort with the help of Fev and Dougie. “And the owners have been great too, Dean (Shannon), Jodie (Scott) and Adam (Sofoulis) among many others. As we know, without owners we have no industry.” And he capped his weekend by heading to the EKKA (Royal Queensland Show) with his family watching the trotting action on display. Darrel Graham has trained 2505 winners throughout his career to date. Chris Barsby

ENJOYING Queensland’s pleasant weather this week, power couple Lauren and Shane Tritton are hoping for a warm reception at Albion Park on Saturday. The duo are set to contest the Australian Pacing Gold Brisbane Sale Final with Muscle Factory, which is the short-priced favourite from his wide draw. Winner of his heat at the same venue last weekend, Muscle Factory will begin from the outside of the front row. Despite the two-year-old’s tough starting position, Shane is positive Muscle Factory can add the Group One to his impressive record. The son of Roll With Joe has won four of his eight starts, with three placings also to his credit. “He has pulled up super from his heat and everything is moving along nicely,” Tritton said. “He needed that run in the heat as he hadn’t one in a while. “His work has been great this week and he will be better again in the Final., “We couldn’t be happier with him going into this race…it is the best he has been all season as he’s started to work out what it’s all about.” Citing Victorian filly For All We Know as the one to beat, Tritton expects Miss Moneybags to improve from a favourable draw. Prepared by Brett Bunfield, For All We Know also won her heat, which followed a second in the Qbred Final at her previous start. Triumphant in the nation-wide APG Consolation last April, the daughter of Art Major has drawn gate two. Fourth behind Muscle Factory in her qualifier, Miss Moneybags will begin from the pole to local horseman Grant Dixon. The daughter of Mach Three is one of four runners Dixon has engaged in the $100,000 feature. Dixon will also be represented by Saint Kilda Beach, Sea Hawke and Bettor Because. “For All We Know is a nice filly, which has proven she is Group One class against girls, is the one to beat here,” Tritton said. “The saying tells us ‘a good colt will beat a good filly’ but For All We Know has to be given respect. “Miss Moneybags has been thereabouts all season and gets her chance from the pole.” APG Media

VICTORIAN filly For All We Know is in a solid position to register an overdue Group One triumph at Albion Park on Saturday night. Winner of her heat last weekend, For All We Know is engaged in the Australian Pacing Gold Brisbane Sale Final where she has drawn barrier two for trainer Brett Bunfield. Triumphant in the nation-wide APG Consolation last April, the daughter of Art Major went into the series fresh from her second in the Qbred Triad Final. “She has done a top job since making her debut and deserves to add a major to her name,” Bunfield said. “Drawing two is great, but there is a lot of speed outside her. “I will have a discussion with Luke (McCarthy, driver) later in the week and decide what’s the best way to go. “Brad’s (Chisholm) been up there looking after her and is very happy with her condition, so it’s full steam ahead.” Selecting Muscle Factory as the one to beat, Bunfield admits the task ahead is a daunting one, but isn’t prepared to concede defeat. Also successful in his qualifier, Muscle Factory is a short-priced favourite despite drawing the outside of the front row. “Muscle Factory will work his way forward I would imagine, which will make him very hard to beat,” Bunfield said. “He’s been the favourite all along, and deserves to be, but favourites do get beaten. “It’s fair to say whoever beats him will be the winner and hopefully it’ll be us.”   APG Media

Rookie Sydney pacer Muscle Factory is fast. In fact, he’s super-fast! And he stamped himself as the horse to beat for next week’s Gr.1 $100,000 Albion Park Gold Final following his scintillating victory last night (Friday) in a time of 1:54.1. He ran sectionals of 28.5, 30.6, 28.6 and 26.6 seconds. The son of Roll With Joe was having his first start at the famed Breakfast Creek oval and scored by a widening margin of 36m defeating Timeless Appeal and Our Ultimate Mary. Prepared by Shane and Lauren Tritton, Muscle Factory has now won 4 of his 8 starts. Prior to his Albion Park romp, all of his other victories have been recorded at TABCORP Park, Menangle. His personal best time to date is 1:53.5 when successful at Menangle on June 5. By comparison, For All We Know who scored in the opening heat rated 1:58.5 for the 1660m distance. But it’s not the fastest time by a juvenile in the Sunshine State. That title belongs to reigning Victoria Derby winner Colt Thirty One. Last season, the Mach Three colt recorded 1:53.9 when successful at Albion Park. In fact, he did it twice, scoring on June 30 and again on July 15. But will that record stand the test of time? There’s every chance that Muscle Factory will be out to claim the rich prizemoney up for grabs plus a track record for a two-year-old pacer next week. It’s the final Gr.1 of the season in Queensland and it now carries plenty of added interest. Only horses sold through the Australia Pacing Gold Brisbane division last year were eligible for this series. The barrier draw will be staged on Tuesday.   Chris Barsby

Team Frisby is flying! Literally and figuratively. The father/son combination of Chris and Anthony Frisby have enjoyed their best season to date, the Bathurst based combination have enjoyed great results in their home state while their annual Queensland winter campaign has netted stunning results. And that was evident on Friday night with quality pacer Our Uncle Sam dominating his rivals to claim the final feature of the 2018 Queensland winter carnival, the Listed $25,450 Chris Garrard’s Patrons Purse at Redcliffe. Starting as a clear punters elect, the Sportswriter four-year-old raced without cover for the bulk of the 2280m feature after starting from a second-line draw before holding Anychance and My Mastercraftsman in a time of 2:00.3. It was his second feature triumph during his northern campaign after claiming the Listed $25,540 Lucky Creed Open at Albion Park on June 23. Our Uncle Sam has also established a new personal best time of 1:52.6 at Albion Park when scoring first-up on June 9. “It’s easily been our best season, our previous best was 32 which came last season and when we passed that mark, Dad said let’s get to 40 and now we’re over 50 so it’s very satisfying and rewarding.” Anthony Frisby said. The Frisby combination has raced nine individual horses during their Queensland stint and all have won race/s during their time in the warmer climate. Queensland Oaks runner-up Major Occasion was the latest winner when successful at Albion Park on Saturday night and it was only her second start in the state. Currently based on the border at Tweed Heads, there’s a small community of New South Wales trainers at the same venue and they prepare over 30 horses as they escape the winter chills. “It’s been great; we have Dean & Rikki Cernovskis, Scott Hewitt, Dennis Picker and Katie Jenner and we’ve all had some success which is great. We’re based at the Tweed Heads Pony Club and we got permission to build our own jog track and the horses have thrived during their time up here. “We’re more than pleased with the way our time has performed up here and most have been multiple winners. We planned for some time prior to the trip making sure we had the right horses and we’ve worked the handicapping system to our advantage. “I’d say we’ll be here for another week or two before heading home, hopefully things are starting to warm up a little back home.” Team Frisby have three runners engaged at tomorrow’s (Tuesday) Albion Park meeting. Chris Barsby

ANOTHER name has been added to Australian Pacing Gold’s ever growing list of Group One winners. Proving too slick for his rivals at Albion Park during the weekend, First String captured the Qbred Triad Final for trainer and part-owner Craig Cross. Driven by Luke McCarthy, First String dashed to the lead from barrier four before being eased to take a trail behind fellow New South Wales raider, Regulus. Angled into the passing lane during the latter stages, the son of Roll With Joe sprinted to a three-and-a-half metre win from the pacemaker, with Hipstar three-and-a-half metres away third in 1:56.4 over 1660 metres. Although thrilled with the win, Cross – and First String – won’t be overly celebrating the moment. Instead, the two are likely to face the scalpel in coming weeks. Still experiencing difficulties from a broken leg, Cross could be required to undergo a bone graft next month. While Cross faces a date with a surgeon, First String may also be given the ‘cruellest cut’! The two-year-old has been sent for a spell, during which time he is likely to be gelded. “I’ve been wanting to geld him for a while, but we had the race in Queensland set out for him all season, so it hasn’t been done,” Cross said. “Although he won tonight, he is still more concerned about being a colt, so I believe he will race better once gelded. “I have to talk it over with the other owners, but it’s the way I would like to go. “Overall he hasn’t done too badly with three wins and two seconds from 10 starts.” APG Media

DEXTER Dunn’s glorious winning drive on Let It Ride in last night’s $200,000 Group 1 Blacks A Fake at Albion Park almost didn’t happen. In fact, just 20 hours before the race, Dunn was back home in NZ and almost convinced a stomach bug would ground him, as it had done the night before at Addington. “When I went to bed about 7pm (Friday) I thought I was no chance to be on the flight to Brisbane,” Dunn said. “I sort of tossed and turned between 1-3am then at 3am I had a glass of water and said to myself if I kept it down, I’d head to the airport.” The water stayed down, Dunn scrambled together his gear and lobbed at Christchurch airport at 4.30am. The rest is now Grand Circuit history. Dunn, driving a horse who wasn’t even going to contest the Blacks A Fake just six days earlier, reminded everyone why is a former World Champion and one of the very best in the game. The spot everyone wanted to be in the race was leading then taking a sit on tough and classy four-year-old Atomic Red. Dunn’s early smarts and aggression landed him in that prized spot. “I knew I had to do a bit early and then when I got the front, Atomic Red was the right horse to sit on,” he said. “I was bolting all the way then when I said go, he just put a gap in them. He felt awesome out there tonight.” The win took Dunn’s unbeaten record on Let It Ride to five races, but the first four way back at the start of the now rising five-year-old’s career. “When I drove him he was a bundle of raw talent. He galloped out at his first start and still won. The potential was there, but he’s a different horse now. Tim (Butt) has done a fantastic job with him.” Dunn’s genius in the sulky was matched only by Butt’s quick-thinking and bold decision late last Sunday to switch from chasing the 4YO feature to the main event with Let It Ride. “When we knew Tiger Tara wasn’t coming up and Soho Tribeca went amiss, we thought it was worth giving Let It Ride his chance. You don’t get many $200,000 Grand Circuit races without many of the real stars of the sport in it. “I don’t like rushing my horses into things, but this looked a good option. “I must say I was surprised how easily he did it. He made light of work of it, but Dexter’s drive was a fantastic.” The win was Butt’s 52nd at Grand Circuit level – across pacing and trotting – and extended his commanding lead on the all-time winners’ list over Mark Purdon (32) and Gary Hall Sr (26). Butt hopes to add more later this year with Let it Ride, but his Miracle Mile winner My Field Marshal, who ran way below his best again last night, won’t be racing again for quite some time. “Let It Ride will be set for the Inter Dominion. He’s earned it now. He’s not an NZ Cup horse … not yet, anyway,” he said. “He can have a month out now then I’ll target the Inter Dominion in Melbourne. “Something obviously isn’t right with My Field Marshal. We went right over him after last week and couldn’t find anything, but he’s not right. “I’ll get him checked over again, but he’ll go out for a big spell. He’s not an NZ Cup or Inter Dominion horse, so he won’t race again this year.” It’s a changing phase for Australia’s open-class ranks with so many big names retired, moving to the US or sidelined with injury, which makes the Blacks A Fake result so important. Let It Ride led home a quinella for four-year-olds with the ultra- tough and promising Atomic Red finishing a brave second. Just for good measure, Let It Ride’s 1min54.8sec mile rate also broke Our Hi Jinx’s 1min55.0sec track record for 2680m. It was also much quicker than the late Yulestar went (1min56.2sec) winning the 2001 Albion Park Inter Dominion over 2647m.   Adam Hamilton

THE door is wide open for Chicago Bull. Right now he’s top seed for the tag as Australasia’s best pacer, but the rest of this year will tell the story. More immediately, November’s NZ Cup will be the defining race of his career. Trainer Gary Hall Sr has repeatedly dismiss doubters saying he won’t make the trip to Addington and Chicago Bull is doing his part to ensure it. The pint-sized gelding made it two easy wins from as many starts this campaign when he toyed with a good free-for-all field at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Somewhat surprisingly, but sensibly, main rival Bettors Fire opted to surrender the lead to Chicago Bull in the early stages of the long 2536m race and it developed into a sprint home. Chicago Bull ambled through a 60.1sec middle half, then dashed home in 54.9 and 27.0sec to win by 4.7m without being extended by Gary Hall Jr in a 1min56.8sec mile rate. “It’s all about the NZ Cup now. If the timing and flights work, he’ll probably go to the Victoria Cup then across to NZ nice and early,” Hall Sr said. “For now, we will just pick off a few free-for-alls here then given him a freshen-up and go again.” Trainer Michael “Mouse” Brennan opted to dodge Chicago Bull with his evergreen The Bucket List and was rewarded with a win off a daunting 50m backmark in the Botra Cup. ___________________________________________________________________________ FORMER Kiwi mare Our Golden Goddess looks ready to stake her claim for the crown as Australia’s best mare. It’s tight at the top with the likes of Ameretto, Tell Me Tales and Carlas Pixel, but Our Golden Goddess was awesome winning first-up from a spell at Melton last night. Sure she led, but it was against open-class free-for-allers and she ran blistering times to win by 8.6m in a 1min54.3sec mile rate for 2240m. ___________________________________________________________________________ MILLIONARE trotter Keystone Del didn’t win his comeback race, but he did the next best thing. Sidelined for almost a year, the rising 11-year-old produced a monster run for second to stablemate Kyvalley Blur after having the hardest run in the race. It thrilled trainer Brent Lilley, who has nursed Keystone Del back to form and fitness. Lilley’s pair pulled away from hot favourite Tornado Valley, who looked flat and might be ready for a spell after a busy and blazing start to his Aussie career. ___________________________________________________________________________ FORMER Kiwi pacer Master Moonlite caused one of the biggest upsets of the Queensland Winter Carnival when he snatched a last-stride win in the Group 2 Queensland Derby last night. The race supposed to be a walk in the park for another former Kiwi, Duplicated, with local pin-up pacer Colt Thirty One the only possible danger. Duplicated, who thrashed virtually the same field in the South East Derby the week before, led as expected from gate one and cruised through a first 800m as Colt Thirty One parked outside him. The race changed suddenly in the middle stages when local driver Dannielle McMullen launched three-wide and tried unsuccessfully to get the “death” seat off Colt Thirty One. As a result, the heat win into the race and a revved-up Duplicated started pulling ferociously in front for driver Luke McCarthy. It was clear down the back straight he’d run himself ragged and Colt Thirty One powered to the front while Master Moonlite set out after him. Master Moonlite, trained and driven by Victorian Matty Craven, lunged right on the wire to win by a half-head over the very gallant Colt Thirty One with another 9m away to the filly Fame Assured in third spot. Duplicated wilted four fifth, while another very recent Kiwi import Pembrooks Passion ran a sound fourth at his first run for new trainer KerryAnn Turner. Master Moonlite has been an astute purchase by Craven, having won three of his seven starts for the barn. His Derby win did underline the amazing strength of Emma Stewart’s three-year-old crop given Master Moonlite finished a well-held sixth in the recent Vicbred final at Melton where Stewart had the first four home, headed by Poster Boy. ___________________________________________________________________________ NRL star Jarrod Croker added some celebrity power to Blacks A Fake night and didn’t go home empty handed. Croker, captain of the Canberra Raiders, has shares in a few pacers, including the consistent and talented Our Triple Play, who won last night’s $30540 Group 3 4YO Championship for trainer-driver Brad Hewitt. It was a brilliant drive from Hewitt to find the lead then kick away on the home bend while main danger and eventual runner-up Conviction was bailed-away in traffic. ___________________________________________________________________________ EVERY now and again Queensland produces a young pacer capable of matching Australia’s best. Last year’s Winter Carnival unearthed Colt Thirty One, who has already gone on to win the Victoria Derby. This year it could be Smart As Camm Be, who lifted off the canvas for trainer-driver Kylie Rasmussen for a narrow but fantastic win in the $100,540 Group 1 Qbred Trial final. Luke McCarthy did every possible to get Victorian raider For All We Know home, but failed by a neck after a glorious drive. McCarthy did win the Group 1 2YO colts and geldings equivalent earlier in the night when First String camped on leader and hot favourite Regulus and ran him down in the last 200m. ___________________________________________________________________________ IT was a week of milestones in Victoria with Chris Alford’s record-breaking 389th win of the season the headline act. But another bright star of the sport, Kate Gath, reached her 1300th career win when she snared a double – both trained by husband Andy Gath – at Bendigo on Friday night. Gath’s first Bendigo win came on promising former Kiwi three-year-old trotter Scallywag Sam and then added another aboard Chief Running Cloud. Scallywag Sam now boasts five wins from just six Aussie runs. ___________________________________________________________________________ WHAT a shame buzz Victorian youngster Lochinvar Art isn’t paid-up for the Breeders Crown. Many think he’s up with the best juveniles in Australia and it’s hard to argue after the way he demolished his rivals in last night’s Group 2 Tatlow Stakes (2240m) at Melton. Trained by Laura Crossland and driven by David Moran, Lochinvar Art had to dragged back from an inside back row draw, but circled the field and won by 20m in a 1min55.7sec mile rate. ___________________________________________________________________________ A COUPLE of months ago Shane Tritton popped an advertisement on this website spruiking the opportunities for Kiwi owners to send horses to him to race at Menangle. Just one of the many people to contact him was Dougal Steel, who sent his young mare My Major Pocket across. “He took a chance and has already been rewarded,” Tritton said. “Her Menangle win last night was her third from just seven starts for us. She’s run two seconds and a third as well.” My Major Pocket came from a seemingly hopeless position in a slowly run race to overpower one-time glamour mare Rocker Band and win in a 1min54.9sec mile at Menangle. The other Menangle win of note came from two-time Inter Dominion contestant Major Crocker, who resumed from a spell with a sharp win in the opening race for new trainer Michael Doltoff. Major Crocker, a winner of 29 races and over $680,000, will be a welcome addition to NSW’s open-class ranks.   Adam Hamilton

The 2018 Albion Park winter carnival came to dramatic finale last night (Saturday). With great fields of racing, solid prizemoney and cash bonuses up for grabs, rival connections were keen to get amongst the action. And it paved the way for a sensational night of harness racing. The Gr.1 $200,540 UBET Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship was the main event, the final leg of the 2017/18 Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit season, a classy field of competitors were chasing the riches on offer. Champion trainer Tim Butt claimed the event with rising star Let It Ride who scored easily defeating Atomic Red and Alleluia in the 2680m feature. Aided by a gun drive by star reinsman Dexter Dunn, Let It Ride gained a perfect trail before unleashing a powerful finishing burst to score by a widening margin. The winning mile rate of 1:54.8 established a new track record, slicing .2 seconds of the previous mark of 1:55.0 held by Our Hi Jinx. In the Gr.1 $100,540 QBRED Triad 2yo Finals, First String ran down favourite Regulus in the colts and geldings feature rating 1:56.4. Prepared by Craig Cross, the Roll With Joe colt was handled perfectly by Luke McCarthy. Smart As Camm Be defeated southern raider For All We Know to claim the fillies feature in a thrilling home stretch battle. Trained and driven by Kylie Rasmussen, the Cammibest filly has firmly established herself as the best juvenile in the state with a pair of feature race victories. Victorian horseman Mattie Craven landed the Gr.2 $75,540 AQWA Constructions Queensland Derby when former New Zealand pacer Master Moonlite nailed local star Colt Thirty One right on the line while filly Fame Assured finished a creditable third in the blue riband classic. Raced by a large team of owners, Master Moonlite rated 1:57.3 for the 2680m event. In winning the event, Craven landed himself a $20,000 trainer’s cash bonus after scoring a victory in the Gr.2 Queensland Trotters Cup a week earlier. The Gr.3 $30,540 Ted and Edna Badcock Memorial 4yo Championship was taken out by race favourite Our Triple Play who led throughout defeating Conviction and Our Uncle Sam in a time of 1:54.5 for the 2138m. Prepared by Brad Hewitt, the Shadow Play gelding gave his astute young mentor his second victory in the event after scoring with Sweet Molly Oshea two years ago. Local trotter Spud proved too classy taking the Gr.3 $20,630 Haras De Trotteurs Marathon when running down Gee Up Neddy and Our Dreamlover. Spud rated 2:04.7 for the 3157m event. Trained by John Edmunds and handled by Nathan Dawson, the Tennotrump gelding recorded his 13th career victory. The APHRC would like to extend their heartiest congratulations to all of the winners during the three week carnival and thank all of the interstate trainers who made their way to the Sunshine State to be part of another successful carnival.   Racing Queensland    

The biggest night of the Albion park harness racing calendar is finally here and the competition looks as fierce as ever. Tomorrow night we will honour the famed pacer Blacks A Fake, who earnt over $4.5mil with 72 wins under his belt. Trained & driven by Natalie Rasmussen, he won the 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010 Inter Dominion Championships - making him the only four-time winner of Australasia's premier harness race. Other achievements include wins in the Queensland Winter Cup (3 times), Victoria Cup, Hunter Cup and three Australian Horse of the Year titles. The $200,000 grand circuit event, the "UBET Blacks A Fake" starts as race 8 on the program at 8.40pm. Race favourite, Atomic Red lines up against last week’s Garrard’s Sunshine Sprint winner, Tact Tate as well as the likes of Let It Ride, My Field Marshall, Cruz Bromac and Glenferrie Hood. Additional group races on the program include the G1 QBred Triad Finals for the two year olds, G2 AQWA Constructions Queensland Derby, G3 Ted & Edna Badcock Memorial 4YO Championship and G3 Haras Des Trotteurs Marathon. The program also highlights Australasia’s most talented drivers in the Garrard’s Horse & Hound Drivers Invitation Pace with New Zealand’s Dexter Dunn joining Queensland drivers Nathan Dawson, Grant Dixon, Pete McMullen, Gary Whitaker and Kelli Dawson alongside interstate competitors Luke McCarthy, Chris Geary, Amanda Turnbull, Anthony Butt, Matthew Craven and Rob Morris. For the meetings full form analysis and selections refer to Racing Queensland harness racing specialist Darren Clayton’s deliberations on the meeting: http://www.harness.org.au/punting/punters-corner/form-analysis/?keyNum=221470 The race meeting has a number of exquisite betting propositions courtesy of wagering service provider UBET. Headlining these offers is a $25K First 4 jackpot pool on race 1 scheduled for 5:08pm EST. This is complimented by a $5K First 4 jackpot pool on race 8, the UBET Blacks A Fake. Additionally, a $2.5K Quadrella jackpot is listed for races 2 to 5 with the first leg due at 5:42pm EST which is complimented by $2K jackpot Trifectas on races 3 to 6. The first race of an action packed 10 event card begins at 5.08pm EST. For further information contact the Club on 07 3262 2577 or info@aphrc.com.au Racing Queensland

A win on the punt and a quick scroll through social media started a chain reaction that would lead Steve Salter, part-owner of dual Group 1 winner Tact Tate, from Victoria to Brisbane this weekend.  A masterful drive by Amanda Turnbull helped Tact Tate complete a long-awaited comeback to the winners’ stall in last week's Group 2 Sunshine Sprint, following a near 15-month stint on the sidelines through injury.   Salter bought into the gelding in August 2015 after Nathan Jack posted a notice via ‘Twitter’ that he and Turnbull were looking to syndicate a horse they’d bought from New Zealand. “I had a lucky win on the punt one day and then I saw that Nathan put it up on Twitter. I had always wanted to have one with Nathan and Amanda and I know Amanda likes the McArdles, so when I saw McArdle in the breeding I thought ‘Why not?’,” he said. “What I also bought into was a great bunch of owners. I have made lifelong friends and Nathan and Amanda have been terrific … I can’t speak highly enough of them.”  Tact Tate's Group 1 wins include the 2016 Nestle 4YO Bonanza and the 2017 Bohemia Crystal. But following the Bathurst Mayors cup in March 2017, scans showed the gelding had suffered a bone chip. He would race just once between then and June this year. Salter praised Nathan and Amanda for nursing Tact Tate back to full health.  “Hence the excitement after we won,” Salter said. “I had a few of my mates asking me ‘Why are you so excited, the Grand Final (Blacks A Fake) is next weekend’. “But it was the knowledge that we could have lost him that made the win all the more special.” Salter said he had now made lifelong friends in the ownership group, and hopes to be celebrating just as hard this weekend.  "I don't see any reaason why he couldn't (win). Hopefully he doesn't have to spend too much energy early. I'm worried about a couple inside us but if he shows the speed he did last week he can be up there. It's a Group 1 race and you've got to be in it to win it!"  Tact Tate can also earn his connections an extra $50,000 in UBET Grand Slam Bonuses, if he is able to win on Saturday night. A minor placing would also give them $15,000. Ohoka Punter and Celestial Arden can also earn their connections an extra $15,000 should either place or win.  By Alex Nolan Racing Queensland

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