By Duane Ranger
The Queensland Driving Premiership is the last thing on the mind of Australia’s third-ranked reinsman.
“If I start paying attention to that stuff it makes me lose focus of what I have to do and that’s win my next race - I’ve never been a stats or numbers man,” Nathan Dawson said.
The Tamborine horseman leads the Queensland premiership with 125 wins ($817,135), 13 ahead of Peter McMullen, but Dawson’s been there and done that.
In 2017-2018, Dawson recorded his personal best of 202 wins and $1 million prize money in a season, finishing fourth nationally.
He is currently third behind Chris Alford on 201 wins and Greg Sugars, who has saluted 166 times.
“It’s nice to be recognised up there alongside some of the great drivers in our sport, but it’s all about the breeders, owners and trainers for me,” Dawson said.
“They are the people that give me the opportunity to drive their horses.
“People mean a bit more to me than numbers, numbers are for others - I’m a laid back guy.”
The 24-year said he loved his career and was grateful that he was still able to drive several times a week when others couldn’t.
“I’ve always wanted to be a driver for as long as I can remember almost, but I’m also enjoying the training, and I’ve got a couple of my own in on Saturday,” he said.
“In fact I think my pacer in race nine (Casino Tommy) is my best winning chance.”
As is the case on most Saturday nights at Albion Park, Dawson has almost a full-book of drives, seldom leaving the track win-less.
Here’s what the former Lowood State High School student had to say about his eight drives on Saturday (with race, trainer, horse, draw, form, and opening odds):
Race 1: Nathan Dawson trained and driven CHANGE OF MIND (10) - 57265 - $17:
“Changeover gelding, who is flying, but just needs a draw. When he gets one, especially over the mile, watch out. I think he will need luck from 10 here though because he’s up against some nice horses who have all drawn better. I’ll be trying but place at best I think.”
Race 2: The Doug Lee trained ILLAWONG DREAMTIME (7) - 64752 - $24:
“The draw is a concern for me this week, despite running a super race last start. If he can get into the top five here then I think that would be a good effort.”
Race 3: The Richard March trained ARTFUL MAID (9) - 30526 - $34:
“Cammibest mare, who cops a draw that is kinder than it looks. She is however a front-running type of horse, and this is her first start for a while (February 29), and she might need the run. In saying that she is good enough to get a piece of this.”
Race 4: The Aileen Smith trained JUST JOSHIN (4) - 11232 - $12:
“Bettor’s Delight five-year-old gelding, who I think has only missed one cheque in his last 20 or so starts. He’s not the toughest horse in race, so I won’t want to go too far back with him. If I can get a position, he’s a definite an each-way chance again.”
Race 5: The Donny Smith trained CC JONES (4) - 11246 - $3.50 favourite:
“He’s going real good at the moment, even though he can, at times, be a bit of a handful to drive. I’ll look to press forward and that way I think he will be the hardest to beat.”
Race 6: The Peter Greig trained JUST ROKIN (9) - 82618 - $14:
“She is a good each-way chance because we get to follow one of the favourites through at the start (Cherry’s The Best - $4.50). The mare has been footing it with them in Saturday night company. She only needs luck to be thereabouts.”
Race 8: The David Rodger Jr trained WARNER (5) – 5x774 - $11:
“He going good and this is just his fourth run back this time in. I’ve driven him once, and he went okay. A place here would be a nice surprise, because it’s a real awkward draw for him.”
Race 9: The Nathan Dawson trained and driven CASINO TOMMY (1) - 62526 - $6.50:
“Just five in this race now after scratchings and he’s my best winning chance of the night. ‘Tommy’ is the best of my six in work, and he’s been really flying of late with some nice sectionals. This is his favourite trip and his favourite draw, so I’ll be definitely be making the most of it from the markers.
He’s been working real well during the week, but there are some nice horses in this small field. Hopefully we can lead, set a solid pace, and then out-stay them. He runs hard and hopefully he will be hard to catch, but I am aware there’s only four others, including the $1.50 favourite, but I think Tommy is way better than his current price.”