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Quality three-year-old Pinup Boy makes his return to harness racing at Albion Park tomorrow (Friday) night. Prepared by respected horseman Mark Dux, the talented gelding is a last start winner of the Gr.1 $100,450 Australian Pacing Gold Brisbane Sales Graduates Final on August 12. On that occasion, he proved too strong downing talented filly Arts Treasure (a proven Gr.1 winner herself) in a solid time of 1:55.7 for the 1660m feature event. The Sportswriter – Victree Bette youngster was immediately turned out for a well-deserved break. Pinup Boy ended his rookie season with a record of three wins and two minor placings from seven starts while banking more than $54,000. “He’s come back in good order, he’s only grown in height a small margin but he’s definitely filled out and seems a lot thicker in most areas which is pleasing. Winning the APG race was the season target, it was his Grand Final and we were more than pleased with the job he did.” Dux said. Pinup Boy resumes in the final event on the program, the second heat of the Seymour Pot of Gold and will start from gate five in the 1660m event. The $10,540 Final is scheduled for the following week. A recent public trial indicated that Pinup Boy is on target for a first-up showing after winning the workout in a time of 1:59.1 with the last quarter covered in 27.7 seconds. “It was a nice start to his campaign and I was more than satisfied with the way he hit the line and ran through the line, he chased down the leader quite comfortably. “He will prove very hard to beat and this series looked a perfect way to start his new season, I haven’t really mapped out any major assignments at this stage so there are no set plans. “I like him; I think he’s got a nice future so we will hopefully have some fun with him this campaign and a winning start can be made this week.” Pinup Boy is raced by Stephen Dux, Greg Flower, Richard Lucas, Bill Quill, Bernard Tobin, Alan Salpietro, John Flower, Natalie Flower, Chris Grant and Danial Grant. Meanwhile, the meeting also features the second round of heats of the 2017 Australasian Young Drivers Championship with a further two heats scheduled. The series commenced on Wednesday night at Redcliffe and local driver Narissa McMullen (39 points) currently leads the series from New Zealand drivers Dylan Ferguson (37) and Kimberly Butt (34). McMullen won the opening two heats with winning drives behind No Confession and Stuunder. A champion will be crowned on Saturday night after the final four heats are staged. Chris Barsby

Wagering service provider UBET has a number of attractive exotic betting offerings for the harness racing meeting at Albion Park on Saturday night headlined by a $50K guaranteed trifecta inclusive of a $10K jackpot on race 1 scheduled for 5:42pm EST. Additionally, a $5K Quadrella jackpot is listed for races 2 to 5 with the first leg due at 6:13pm EST which is complimented by $2K jackpot Trifectas on races 3 to 5. For the most up to date form analysis and selections refer to Racing Queensland harness racing specialist Darren Clayton’s deliberations on the meeting via this link here: The night boasts an attractive 10 race card including the Summer Carnival feature race the AQWA Constructions 2017 Christmas Cup, set to get underway at 8.40pm EST. Staged over 2680 metres the AQWA Constructions Christmas Cup brings together a top field of open class pacers headed by two-time Christmas Cup winner Avonnova, as well as Ultimate Art, Our Hi Jinx and Major Cam. In Christmas Cup night tradition Santa will arrive with gifts for the kids after race four. For further information contact the Club on 07 3262 2577 or Visit the Club website at  

A 69-year-old Brisbane man has been charged over allegations of harness racing match-fixing. Police say the man rigged the outcome of harness races at Albion Park in Brisbane and Globe Derby Park in Adelaide, and fraudulently purchased harness racing horses while disqualified from any involvement in racing. The Redcliffe man was charged on Wednesday with match-fixing, fraud and receiving tainted property, and will appear in the Redcliffe Magistrates Court on January 8. He is the fourth person to be charged with match-fixing offences as part of a joint investigation by the Queensland Racing Crime Squad and the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission. Reprinted with permission of The West Australian

With all eyes on the Harness Racing Queensland summer carnival currently, two of the state’s best pacers are on differing paths. Recently crowned Queensland Horse of the Year Leos Best has been benched while Mattgregor returns to work following a setback suffered in Sydney last month. Leos Best, prepared by Grant Dixon, scored a decisive first-up victory at Albion Park on November 11 before missing the place a fortnight later. That unplaced effort left Dixon perplexed. Most were expecting to see Leos Best starting in the open class features and playing a major role but instead, the Cammibest gelding will spend the next two weeks in the paddock. “I’ve decided to give him a freshen-up and then start again, I couldn’t put my finger on what when wrong last start although I’ve got my ideas,” Dixon said. “He’ll have two weeks off now and then hopefully he’ll come back better than ever, that’s the plan anyway.” He added. With Leos Best in the paddock, his sparring partner Mattgregor has returned to work today (Monday). The Chantal Turpin trained pacer was forced to bypass the recent Gr.2 $75,000 4 & 5yo Championship at TABCORP Park, Melton owing to a virus. Mattgregor was halfway to Melbourne when successful at Menangle on November 4; it was a dominant victory over 2300m in 1:55.1. Connections were forced to head home and the five-year-old was given a couple of easy weeks to recover. “He’s much better now and he’s back in work and performing light duties, it’s a shame he missed the Melbourne race but he always comes first and we were never going to risk him,” Turpin said. “There’s no plans at this stage, we’ll just work him up and then look at our options when he’s ready. Obviously, the Brisbane winter carnival is a long range target for him.” She added. Leos Best and Mattgregor have clashed on five occasions and both have a victory over each other. Chris Barsby

On the eve of the state’s biggest trotting event, there is a notable omission. Defending harness racing champion Melpark Royal Son will miss the 2017 Gr.2 $40,630 Darrell Alexander Memorial Trotting Championship series owing to a mysterious hoof issue. Prepared by astute mentor John Cremin, Melpark Royal Son resumed with a steady sixth at Albion Park on November 18 when handled by leading reinsperson Danielle Hill but never looked completely comfortable in running. And that left Cremin perplexed. “I haven’t been completely satisfied with the way he was trotting this campaign but I was hopeful I’d have him right to defend his title. It’s hard to pinpoint the issue but it’s in the same offside front hoof that gave him a few troubles during his Melbourne campaign earlier this year.” Cremin said. The reigning Queensland Trotter of the Year has undergone a series of tests in recent weeks with no definitive answer has been revealed although it is different to the issue from earlier this season. The Majestic Son gelding will spend a number of weeks in the spelling paddock. “We’ll give him a number of weeks off now in a bid to solve the problem, there’s no point racing him when there’s an issue, I wouldn’t do that to him because he’s been so good to us since we purchased him. “The only remaining test yet to be carried out on him is an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) but we’d have to go to Sydney for that, we haven’t ruled that out but hopefully we can organise some time to get down there.” Melpark Royal Son is raced by Cremin’s wife, Tanya. Cremin is heavily committed with his burgeoning farrier business while working his small team. The opening round of heats will take place tomorrow (Friday) with two full fields taking on the staying distance of 2647m. Key players in the first heat include Master Hugh, Blazing Under Fire, Releven Dream, Our Dainty Lady and Our Overanova among others while the second heat features Ivanov, Southern Alps, Unico Pegasus, Twice As Much, Astral Ruler, Giacomo and Iona Grinner among others. Cremin has picked up the drives behind Liava and Blue Don for the Grant Dixon stable. Chris Barsby

Top Victorian trainer Brent Lilley has scrapped his Brisbane summer carnival plans. The New Zealand born harness racing horseman has been eyeing off the Queensland riches for some time with a number of his quality performers including open class star Messini. The Art Major entire was beaten behind former Perth pacer John Of Arc in Saturday night’s $20,000 Sokyola Sprint at TABCORP Park, Melton after leading in a time of 1:53.4. Options for Messini during the Brisbane campaign included this week’s Gr.3 $30,540 AQWA Constructions Be Good Johnny Sprint followed by the $20,540 Christmas Cup before ending with the Gr.2 $60,540 Egmont Park Stud Queensland Cup. All three events will be staged at Albion Park over consecutive weeks. “Things just haven’t worked out for us to make the trip north; there are a number of things that have prevented us from making the trip. It’s disappointing because we’ve been looking at this trip away for a little while now.” Lilley said. The other attraction that made strong appeal for Lilley and his expected northern sojourn was the Gr.2 $40, 630 Egmont Park Stud Darrell Alexander Memorial Trotting Championship, the biggest trotting event staged in the Sunshine State. The series starts this Friday while the final is scheduled for December 16. The stand start feature is assessed for T5 trotters or better. Lilley is revered for his deeds with trotters and his stable currently boasts the likes of champion performer Keystone Del, Maori Time and many others. The Racing Queensland summer carnival is officially underway and concludes on December 16. Chris Barsby

He’s won it before and he’s coming back to win it again. Leading Sydney horseman Blake Fitzpatrick has targeted the Gr.2 $40,630 Egmont Park Stud Darrell Alexander Memorial Trotting Championship with his talented harness racing performer Blazing Under Fire. Fitzpatrick trained My Valerie to win the 2015 version when handled by local reinsman Pete McMullen. The DJA series, the biggest trotting event staged in the Sunshine State, starts this Friday at Albion Park with the first round of heats and continues the following week before the final is staged on December 16 – the final night of the Racing Queensland summer carnival. “We’ve had this series on the radar for some time and his recent form warrants the trip north, he won well last start and he’s trained on well so we’re heading off tonight (Monday).” Fitzpatrick said. Following his purchase from New Zealand a few months ago, the Washington VC entire has performed at a high standard which includes two victories from 9 starts. Two starts ago, Blazing Under Fire was a runner-up behind his stablemate Mistercool Sea Eyre in the Gr.2 $33,600 Franco Australian Trotters Cup at TABCORP Park, Menangle. Last start, Blazing Under Fire reversed the result on Mistercool Sea Eyre when comfortable sprinting past his stablemate in a sharp time of 1:59.5 for the 2300m stand start event. “He was impressive winning last start and the time backs it up so I’m confident of a forward showing during the series up there. “I like his versatility and that should hold him in good shape, obviously we’re going to require some luck or no bad luck going our way. “We’re still learning about him and he’s still improving so I think he profiles well for this series, obviously there’s a number of Sydney trotters heading up which will make it difficult.” Meanwhile, talented performer Our Dainty Lady has switched from the stables of Jarrod Alchin to the local stables of Darrel Graham in preparation for the series. The proven Albion Park winner finished fourth behind Blazing Under Fire at her most recent start on November 18. Our Dainty Lady has won 4 from 6 at Albion Park when previously prepared by Graham including a track record effort for 2647m (2:00.5) when starting from a 30m handicap. The Pegasus Spur mare is a daughter of former champion mare Pride Of Petite (33 wins - $760k). Chris Barsby

Richly talented young harness racing horseman Leonard Cain has landed his first feature. On Saturday night at Albion Park, the 18 -year-old produced a polished display behind Our Hi Jinx ($10) to land the $20,540 AQWA Constructions Lord Mayors Cup defeating the heavily fancied Glenferrie Hood ($2.80) and Avonnova ($5) in the 2138m feature. It was great result for trainer Ian Gurney, preparing first and third. The Lord Mayors Cup was the first open class features during the Racing Queensland summer carnival with the Gr.3 $30,540 AQWA Constructions Be Good Johnny Sprint (Dec.2), $20,540 Christmas Cup (Dec.9) and the Gr.2 $60,540 Egmont Park Stud Queensland Cup (Dec.16) all still to come. Previous winners of the Lord Mayors Cup includes Alleluia, Field Officer, Destreos, Be Diligent, Tip Your Hat, Western Light and Leftrightout among others. Champion pacer Blacks A Fake won the event back in 2010. But the moment belonged to Cain on Saturday night. The graduate of the Queensland mini-trotting has built a good rapport with the New Zealand bred gelding, winning three races from four drives to date. “It was a great thrill, he’s a good horse and his record proves that being a former Queensland Pacing Championship winner and he’s still very quick with the right run. He’s not the easiest horse to drive but I enjoy the challenge.” Cain said. Fresh from his standout rookie year which netted him 55 winners from 535 drives and therefore created a new record by a Queensland driver for most wins in a maiden term. The previous record belonged to Brittany Graham at 40. As a result of his excellent opening season, he was recently crowned the co-winner of the Young Achiever of the Year award – Narissa McMullen was the other co-winner. The award is sponsored by generous harness racing benefactors Kevin and Kay Seymour and the prize is a trip to North America to spend time working and learning under the watchful eye of outstanding horseman and former Australian Ross Croghan in New Jersey next year. And he continues to improve and work at his chosen craft. So far this season, Cain has driven 17 winners which includes a triumph in the $15,540 Seymour Rising Stars Championship Final aboard the Peter Greig trained Bodhi Tree on October 21. The fresh faced youngster will reunite with Our Hi Jinx this weekend in the Be Good Johnny Sprint and looms as a legitimate chance again given his current form. The Christian Cullen gelding has won 3 and been placed on a further 3 occasions from 10 starts this campaign. Our Hi Jinx won the Be Good Johnny Sprint back in 2015 before going on to win the Grand Circuit feature – the Gr.1 $200,000 QPC. The victory behind Our Hi Jinx completed a double for Cain after guiding Western Blaze to victory in the opening race for trainer Jack Butler. Cain, the son of Errol and Debra Cain currently works for leading horseman Shane Graham. Chris Barsby

The decision has been made. Star harness racing horsewoman Kylie Rasmussen will not make a comeback to driving this weekend. Speculation grew on Tuesday of a return to race driving by the former metropolitan premiership winner to partner emerging star Major Cam in the $20,540 AQWA Constructions Lord Mayors Cup at Albion Park this Saturday night. Rasmussen took the winning trial drive behind the giant Art Major gelding when he romped home in a time of 1:56.7 on a rain affected surface. But those plans have been shelved. At least for now anyway. Rasmussen has engaged the services of talented reinsman Gary Whitaker to drive her stable star in the first of the open class features during the Racing Queensland summer carnival. Whitaker has driven 12 winners to date this season and is a dual Group One winning reinsman. “I thought about it long and hard but in the end, I went with Gary because he has race fitness on his side and I’m confident he will handle him well.” Rasmussen said. During the 2013/14 season, Rasmussen was a runaway winner in the metropolitan driver’s premiership and easily accounted for the likes of Grant Dixon and Shane Graham. Rasmussen drove 46 Albion Park winners that term and 118 overall for the season. During that season, Rasmussen suffered a back injury following a fall behind Heres Rommel while another nasty spill behind Ella Michelle in 2016 has left her on the sidelines ever since owing to the constant pain in the delicate back region. But a possible return seemed realistic given the emergence of Major Cam in recent times. The six-year-old has won 18 of his 31 starts to date while winning 5 of his last 7 efforts but Rasmussen has opted to remain in the grandstand. “He’s a very talented horse and his form is very strong, the draw makes it very tricky but he’ll be doing his best yet again. He hasn’t raced since September and will improve on whatever he does this weekend. “I thought he felt great in the trial earlier this week, he covered the ground so easily and his sectionals were solid so I’m happy with his condition. “Obviously Glenferrie Hood and Avonnova are the toughest to beat given their good draws, both are high quality rivals.” Rasmussen is no stranger to quality herself having partnered the likes of the country’s greatest ever pacer in Blacks A Fake (72 wins - $4.57 million) plus one of the state’s best mares in Forever Gold (42 wins - $700k). Chris Barsby

Wagering service provider UBET has a number of attractive exotic betting propositions for the harness racing meeting at Albion Park on Saturday night spearheaded by a $50K guaranteed Trifecta inclusive of a $10K jackpot on race 1 scheduled for 5:12pm EST. Additionally, a $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 5. For the most up to date form analysis and selections refer to Racing Queensland harness racing specialist Darren Clayton’s deliberations on the meeting. The opening event on an attractive10 event card including the AQWA Lord Mayor’s Cup gets under way at 5:12pm EST. For further information contact the Club on 07 3262 2577 or Visit the Club website at  

Despite early setbacks, rising harness racing star Brittany Graham remained patient and produced her winning hand in the final leg to take the inaugural Lady Drivers Invitational at Albion Park on Saturday.   The 24-year-old upstaged 11 of the most talented women in Australian racing to clinch the title in the sixth and final heat.  Forced to sit on the sidelines in the opening event due to a scratching, Graham kept herself within striking distance of the lead by snaring crucial points on the unfancied Corporal Luna ($36.60) and Living Grand ($28.70) in the second and fifth legs. Graham held an ace up her sleeve in the series finale, where she was engaged to drive the Mark Dux-trained Covert Beauty ($1.40fav). Despite early pressure, Graham forced her way to the front and never surrendered it, taking the race, the title, and a trip to Hamilton Island thanks to series sponsors, The Seymour Group. “The Dux stable filled me with confidence heading into that race and I was just thrilled she (Covert Beauty) did it quite well in the end,” Graham said. “Things didn’t go to plan at the start … I didn’t want to sit outside the leader so I put the pressure on and was lucky to get the lead. After that she was in cruise control.” Graham congratulated all sections of the Queensland industry, in particular Queensland’s trainers, for making the inaugural series such a resounding success. “We were so lucky to have the support of Albion Park, Racing Queensland and the Seymours, as well as the trainers who entered their horses,” Graham said. “It’s a big ask to put their horses in and let us drive them, because we’ve never driven them before. “The crowd was fantastic down there and were really getting into it. It’s a different crowd to what we’re used to and a great way to start the carnival – hopefully it’s a sign of things to come over the next couple of weeks.” Graham said, despite the competitiveness of the series, all drivers had been supportive and encouraging of each other, suggesting a bright future for the series in the coming years. “All of the girls were really lovely,” she said. “It’s a competition but it’s also an opportunity to get to know the other drivers from different states.” By Alex Nolan

The Brisbane summer carnival is just around the corner. And the southern harness racing stables are well aware about what’s on offer during the month of December at Albion Park. Features include the Garrard’s Australasian Young Drivers Championship, the $60,000 Egmont Park Stud Queensland Cup, the $40,000 Egmont Park Stud Darrell Alexander Memorial Trot and the $30,000 Group 3 AQWA Constructions Be Good Johnny Sprint among others. The leading combination of Robbie Morris and Kerryann Turner are keen to return. The Menangle based couple enjoyed solid success last season through the deeds of now North American based pacer Iam Mr Brightside and are keen to return north again. Iam Mr Brightside won both the Be Good Johnny Sprint and the Christmas Cup. “We’re keen to be part of the summer carnival again and we have a number of types that we’re looking at bringing up, a mixture of both pacers and trotters. I’d say we could have anywhere between 8 to 10 horses coming up at this stage.” Morris said. While exact numbers are yet to be confirmed, some of the likely types headed this way include Condagen, Celestial Arden, Iam Serengeti and Mark Of Integrity among others. At this stage, no trotters have been confirmed but Morris is keen to be involved again with the DJA series. “We’ll definitely have a trotter or two for the series but we haven’t confirmed anything just yet, we bought Visualise last year and he performed well during the heats before missing out in the final. We know what we’re looking for as far as that series is concerned. “The open class features will certainly have interest from our stable, Condagen is definitely coming up and he’s racing in such in great form currently and just needs some luck going his way while others are being looked at. “And we’ll have a number of pacers for the weekly Rising Stars and Pot of Gold series, we’ve got some really nice emerging types that will be suited to those races and the prizemoney is very good. We’re just getting sorted for with numbers and then we’ll confirm how many boxes we’ll need.” The Morris/Turner stable is one of a number of southern trainers that have flagged interest in the Brisbane summer carnival. And the added bonus this year is the staging of the Australasian Young Drivers Championship, being held at both Albion Park and Redcliffe. The 2017 Australasian Young Drivers Championships Representatives are; Narissa McMullen (Queensland) Todd McCarthy (New South Wales – defending champion) Chris Geary (New South Wales) Michael Grantham (Western Australia) Matt Howlett (Tasmania) Jayden Brewin (South Australia) Jason Lee (Victoria) Sheree Tomlinson (New Zealand) Dylan Ferguson (New Zealand) Kimberly Butt (New Zealand) The series starts on December 13 before ending on December 16. Chris Barsby

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

Clear the runway, the Cain plane is taking off. Harness racing driver Leonard Cain, 18, is keen to keep building on his stellar rookie season and has set himself key targets for the new season. Last night (Saturday) at Albion Park, Cain landed his first metropolitan winner of the new season (2017/18) when successful aboard Wicked Time in the Gotta Go Cullect @ Egmont Park Stud Mares Pace in a time of 1:55.9 defeating Katniss by a half head margin. “At first I thought I had been nipped right on the line but wasn’t completely sure so I was relieved when the number was semaphored. It’s a great feeling winning on a Saturday night, she looked well-placed and felt awesome the whole way and she tried all the way to the finish and had her ears pinned back because she wanted to win.” Cain said. Punters were also relieved; Wicked Time was the $2.10 favourite. The victory was his second on the Saturday night circuit following his maiden triumph behind Border Cross last month (August 19). And the dedicated fresh-faced horseman is keen to keep racking up the winners, at all tracks including the Saturday night venue. In his opening season (2016/17), Cain landed 55 winners from 535 drives and therefore created a new record by a Queensland driver for most wins in a maiden term. That’s more than the likes of Grant Dixon, Luke & Todd McCarthy, Shane Graham, Natalie Rasmussen plus Pete & Narissa McMullen among many others. The previous record belonged to Brittany Graham at 40. Cain displayed natural poise and skill during that opening term which resulted in success at all three harness venues in the Sunshine State - Albion Park, Redcliffe and Marburg. The son of Errol and Debra Cain, a graduate of the mini-trotting ranks, took on a role with the leading stable of Vicki Rasmussen and Shane Graham around eighteen months ago and remains their today. And he’s grasped the opportunities, both on and off the track. “Both Shane and Vicki have been tremendous, apart from family support; they’ve been the best thing for my career and gave me the best kick-start possible with a host of opportunities, advice and support. “Naturally, I was absolutely thrilled with my results during my first season. I had a dream run to reach 50 winners let alone exceed that, it wasn’t even in my thoughts when I was first granted my licence. “Shane has been a massive influence and is endlessly working to make me better, the amount of advice and experience he has given me over the last year has been fantastic and something I don’t take for granted.” With 3 winners on the board for the current term, Cain is mindful he is well short of the record figure he set himself last season but is determined to improve on that figure again. But he won’t make any bold predictions on what he’s hoping to achieve. “To reach the same figure as last season would be huge but obviously I would like to expand on that number. The main focus will be to showcase improvement. “I’ll be checking in with Shane as always while I like to watch and take in the techniques and tactics from guys like Chris Alford, Luke and Todd McCarthy plus Chris Geary among others.” So, here’s hoping for another productive season. Chris Barsby

There’s still life in those old legs. Triple Queensland Horse of the Year Avonnova returned to the winners circle on Saturday night at Albion Park with an all-the-way harness racing victory in the Seymour Group Open Pace defeating a gallant Ultimate Art while Mach Alert made good late ground to grab third. The winning time was 1:51.5. The 11-year-old free-legged pacer recorded sectionals of 28.2, 28.4, 27.3 & 27.5 seconds. It was his first start following his failure in the Listed $25,540 Mr Feelgood Open on July 1, a race that ultimately derailed his winter carnival campaign. And to put the time into perspective, it’s the third fastest time ever recorded at the famed Breakfast Creek 1000m oval. The track record belongs to champion pacer Im Themightyquinn at 1:50.4 (the only pacer to better 1:51 at Albion Park) while Avonnova returned a mile rate of 1:51.3 when successful in the 2015 Sunshine Sprint. On the night Im Themightyquinn set the track record (July 4, 2014 – Sunshine Sprint), Avonnova finished third after racing without cover. The mile was covered in splits of 28, 28.3, 26.5 & 27.9 seconds. “I’m absolutely thrilled with his effort, he was off a freshen-up but his two trials indicated he was ready for a big effort and he delivered so hopefully we’re set for a good campaign. More importantly, I’m really happy with how both he and Mach (Alert) come through the race.” Owner/trainer Ian Gurney said. While it’s unlikely his days of tackling interstate features are behind him, local fans will still get the opportunity to see plenty of him in the coming months. Gurney is mindful his star pacer is edging closer to the million dollar mark in prizemoney and will give him every chance of reaching that magical figure. “I can ask no more of him as far as feature races are concerned, he’s been everywhere and competed in all of the biggest events on the calendar but I will try my best to allow him reach the million dollar club. “I claimed him $20,000 from a race at Goulburn just so I could race a horse each and every Saturday night, obviously he’s exceeded all my expectations and now I would like to give him every opportunity. It’s something he deserves in my opinion.” Avonnova will continue to race in the coming weeks and months and the Brisbane summer carnival starting in December looks a distinct possibility but opposition will be tough with a number of talented types currently racing. Key rivals will include Ultimate Art, Mach Alert and Major Cam while former Victorian pacer Mister Mundaka will also add plenty of spice. So, it could be possible another name could join Im Themightyquinn in the sub 1:51 club at Albion Park. by Chris Barsby

The first Metropolitan harness racing meeting of the new season at Albion Park also ushered in the first Saturday night triumph for promising young reinsman Lachie Manzelmann. The seventeen-year-old steered the Shane Parrish Cruisin Carl to success in the Pryde’s Easifeed Pace defeating Rory Mach by a nose margin in a time of 2:00.1 for the 2138m event. It was the first training success for Parrish in seven years while it was the first time that Cruisin Carl was back in the winner’s enclosure since May 22, 2015. Shorty Noonan was the last winner for Parrish while his last Saturday night success came via Speed Gypsie back in 2001. Parrish claimed Cruisin Carl from an event at Redcliffe back on July 15, 2015 when the Western Terror gelding was prepared by Grant Dixon. Cruisin Carl is one of only two horses in work for Parrish at his Plainland property, lightly raced rookie Angelofspeed being the other. Starting from the inside gate, Manzelmann allowed Cruisin Carl to settle comfortably behind the leader The Muse and therefore gaining a perfect trail. In the straight, Cruisin Carl finished strongly via the passing lane while Rory Mach charged hard deeper off the track. “My initial reaction was victory and then I seemed to think maybe I got beat, I knew Darrel (Graham – Rory Mach) had all the momentum and he finished very quickly. Luckily, my number went into the frame and I was quite relieved and quite excited too.” Manzelmann said. With his first full season of race driving now complete and a Saturday night victory against his name, Manzelmann now sits with 28 lifetime winners. Last season, he landed 23 winners and 62 minor placings from 277 drives. In his maiden season (2015/16), he partnered 4 winners from 51 drives. The young horseman is the son of leading central Queensland thoroughbred trainer John Manzelmann and Stace Sallis, wife of respected Wanora trainer Ron Sallis. Manzelmann started his career with the Chantal Turpin/Pete McMullen operation before switching to the Fernvale stables of Darrel Graham. “I’ve always been around horses all my life and I enjoy working with them and obviously I got my grounding from Mum and Dad. When I moved down to Brisbane, I wasn’t that keen but then I started working more with the Standardbreds and then it just snowballed. “It was a good experience with Pete and Chantal and I got my start with them and some good opportunities, I got to drive Munroe which was really good. I’ve kept learning since being with Darrel and I’m really enjoying it. “My goal this year is to drive as many winners as possible but I’d like to out drive my claim (40 winners) and I’m on the board with one so that’s a good start.” It could be the first of many visits to the winners circle for Manzelmann on a Saturday night this season, but he won’t forget his first. by Chris Barsby

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