By Duane Ranger
Even the ever humble Narissa McMullen admits she seems to grow a leg when she dons the teal strides.
“I seem to go all right at about this time of year. I’m not complaining because this is the prefect time to be hitting my straps, especially when the ladies are racing for such a great cause,” the gifted 25-year-reinswoman said.
McMullen and her younger sister, Taleah drove half the card (four winners) at Albion Park on Saturday night – and in doing so they raised $800 for ‘Team Teal’ and ovarian cancer.
The elder sibling was literally on fire and so was trainer, Stephen Cini. She said her combination with the Alberton horseman had blossomed in recent seasons.
“I’m just happy to be supporting such a good cause and raising some much needed awareness for ovarian cancer.
“It’s also great to win races for Steve as he has been my number one supporter from the beginning of my driving career. I owe him for a lot of my success,” McMullen said.
None of the Cini/McMullen combination were expected to win.
Urban Girl rocked the punters in race one at juicy $46.50 odds, while Blade paid $13.20 when winning race two. Trotter, Quietly Spoken, then chimed in when paying $5.50 in race seven.
“They were all strong at the finish. Stephen had them in great condition tonight, and all they needed was a good run, which I managed to land on all three occasions.
“I know these horses well and I certainly didn’t expect them to be paying as much as they did. I couldn’t be happier,” McMullen said.
The second eldest in a richly gifted harness racing family of four, McMullen is the leading female driver in Queensland with 65 wins and fourth overall behind Nathan Dawson (86), Paul Diebert (81), and older brother Peter (78).
Grant Dixon completes the top five with 64 wins. Dixon is the leading trainer with 117 wins – 65 more than Jack Butler. Cini is seventh with 27.
Meanwhile, the $12,800 Remembering Washakie Band 4 - Band 2 Pace was taken out by the Adam Sanderson trained and driven Dream To Share.
The 7-year-old Kenneth J gelding recorded the fastest winning mile-rate of the evening with a 1:52.3. He is trained by Adam Sanderson at Fernvale.
Sanderson, who also drives the bay, had this to say about the 7-year-old:
“He’s dropped out of free-for-all company for this race and they set it up for him and he was good enough to capitalise. The further they went the keener he got.
“It was just a matter of how far, when I pulled him out. The sectionals they ran early set it up for us. He goes about his business and follows speed well.”
The other feature pacing event of the evening – the $12,900 Mr Feelgood At Egmont Park Band Five Pace, went to the Jack Butler trained and Brendan Barnes driven Thatswhatisaid.
It was Barnes first winning drive as an engaged man. Last Monday on social media the 22-year-old announced that he and Elin Olsson were going to get married.
“Well she’s stuck with me now,” he announced.
Then he also commented on Thatswhatisaid’s nose victory:
“His run was really good and he should have won by more than what he did, because he didn’t want to run past Big Bang Leonard in the straight.
“We have a good opinion of him. He has quite a bit of speed and is a really good front-runner when he gets the chance. He stuck out in the parked position up the straight. That was a gutsy win,” Barnes said.
Barnes and Butler also won the last race with Gotta Go Cullect mare, Pay Me Interest. It was the 6-year-old’s ninth career win, and fifth on the track.
LOLA OWNS CLIFTON:
Earlier in the day, and several hundred kilometres away, Lola Weidemann, proved she is not just the multiple-winning Ekka Show Queen, but she also rules the roost at Clifton.
The brilliant Queensland horsewoman, won three of the four heats in Racing Queensland’s inaugural ‘Grassroots Showcase Series’. She then finished first, second, and fourth in the four-race final at 6pm.
That means Clifton champion, Bara Jayla, who was driven by Weidemann’s niece, Stacey, has qualified for the $20,000 final at Redcliffe Paceway during the 2020 Queensland Racing Winter Carnival.
Results from the four non-tote races at Clifton on Saturday afternoon were:
Race 1: The Mal Charlton trained and Steven Doherty driven Always At Night (10m).
Race 2: The Lola Weidemann trained and driven Bara Jayla (10m).
Race 3: The Lola Weidemann trained and Aaron Smith driven Coudntnokhimbak (10m).
Race 4: The Lola Weidemann trained and driven Ima Regal Jet (10m).
Race 5 – $700 Grand Final: The Lola Weidemann trained and Stacey Weidemann driven Bara Jayla (10m) 1; The Lola Weidemann trained and driven Ima Regal Jet (10m) 2; The Mal Charlton trained and Steven Doherty driven Always At Night (10m) 3. The Lola Weidemann trained and Aaron Smith driven Coudntnokhimbak (10m) 4. Mile-rate for the 1,609m mobile: 2:18.8.
The remaining ‘Garrard’s Showcase’ qualifiers are: March 20-22: Warwick; March 26-28: RASQ Toowoomba; April 18: Nanango; May 2-3: Kingaroy (TBC); May 8-9: Marburg; May 14-16: Gympie; May 29-30: Boonah.