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Nate Dawson is back hunting Group glory

By Duane Ranger

Top Queensland reinsman Nathan Dawson could experience the best possible return to Saturday night racing at Albion Park.

The 24-year-old came back from an 12-day suspension on Tuesday, and this Saturday will be attempting to win a Group 2 event behind the pacer that gave him his greatest moment in harness racing.

He will sit behind the Aileen Smith-trained hot favourite, Jiggle And Jive (12), in the $50,660 QBRED Triad 3YO Fillies Final at 7.07pm.

The daughter of Bettor’s Delight gave Dawson his first and only Group 1 victory in last July’s $100,000 2YO QBRED Triad Fillies Final.

On what was Racing Queensland’s biggest night of the season, she won comfortably by 3.9 metres in 1:54.9.

“That was the highlight of my career so far, Aileen has supported me from a young age and I love driving and winning for her,” Dawson said.

“She had the horse in perfect condition that night and made my Group 1 dream come true.”

Albion Park

2019 EGMONT PARK STUD QBRED TRIAD - 2YO FILLIES (G1) 1660m

Up until that memorable night on July 20 last year, Smith had never even lined up a starter in a Group 1 event.

She said she had known Dawson for several years and she was delighted that they could both win their maiden Group 1 events on the same night.

“I laughed with Nathan after the race and said that I’m about 40 years older than you, I hope I don’t have to wait another 40 for the next one,” Smith said.

“Nathan is a great chap and a good young driver, he used to hang around our barn when he was doing the Mini Trotters with Greg Franklin.

“We did tease him in the last couple of weeks leading up to that race though, saying we were going to get Mark Purdon to drive the horse since he was over here.

“It was all banter, it was a great drive and one I’ll never forget.”

Jiggle And Jive will be having just her second start back after winning at Albion Park on January 25; her resuming run last Saturday night against the ‘boys’ saw the second favourite miss the start and finish 27.4 metres last.

“I’m glad she had an off-night while I was suspended,” Dawson said.

“She’s not really like that and you can’t blame Chris for it because he’s won on her before.

“Jiggle And Jive is one serious racehorse, and is easily my best drive of the night, she races against the fillies this week and it will take a very good horse to beat her.”

That was the highlight of my career so far, Aileen has supported me from a young age and I love driving and winning for her.

Jiggle And Jive has now had 10 starts since making her winning debut at Albion Park on March 19 last year, winning six and placing in two others for $90,351 in prize money.

“She can reel off some quick sectionals, and I don’t think the wide second row draw will bother her over the 2,138m mobile,” Dawson said.

“She just keeps truckin’ and should have the measure of this opposition.

“I’m very confident because I know she will be much stronger for that first run back last week.”

Jiggle and Jive is the third of four foals out of the three-win 2006 Christian Cullen mare, Versace Woman; all four foals are by Bettor’s Delight and were bred by their Brisbane owner, Keith Croft.

Versace Woman’s first foal, a 2012 gelding named Betting Baron won 10 races, while 2013 gelding Just Joshin, has also won five races for the Smith – Croft combo.

The mare’s fourth foal named Joy To All, dead-heated for first with the Ron Sallis trained, Delightful Reason, at the Redcliffe Trials Wednesday gone.

Joy To All is also trained by Smith and was driven by Dawson; the two-year-old filly paced the 1,780m mobile in 2:16 flat, which equated to a 2:03 even mile rate.

“She’s very promising as well, and it wouldn’t surprise me if she lined up next year in the same Group race that her older full-sister starts in on Saturday night,” Dawson said.

JIGGLE AND JIVE

The Tamborine-based horseman said he was keen to make up for lost ground while he was suspended.

“I’m three wins behind Pete (McMullen) now, and I want to make up for lost time,” Dawson said.

“I want to finish the season strongly, and you can’t go wrong sitting behind quality horses like Jiggle And Jive.

“I’ve also got two other nice drives in Group races on Saturday.”

The first ride, the Donny Smith-trained Sweet Lombo (2) in race three – the Listed $25,530 QBRED Breeders Classic Final for the 2YO colts and geldings;

The second, the Stephanie Graham-trained Targaryen Hanover (4) in race six – the Group 2 $50,660 QBRED Triad 3YO Colts and Geldings Final.

“I rate them both highly; Sweet Lombo has only had one start and the son of Sweet Lou really impressed winning by more than four metres and sprinting his last quarter (400m) in 27.6,” Dawson said.

“Angus (Garrard) drove him that day, not many two-year-olds can do that.

“Targaryen Hanover should also figure in the finish; he won well at Redcliffe last start and was a good second on the track two starts before that.

“If I can get a nice sit, he’s more than capable in a tough field.”