By Duane Ranger
Even Grant Dixon doubts he will be able to get near his record-breaking number of training victories next season, but is hoping he can still win at least two more at Albion Park on Saturday night.
“We had a lot of starters and our numbers built up as the season developed. We worked 75 to 80 consistently all season, and the winners thankfully kept ticking over We never set out to beat records. We just wanted to perform to the best of both ours, and the horses abilities.
“It’s going to be a hard number to get past next season, and I won’t be setting out to beat it next year, even though it won’t be for lack of trying. Just staying in front of Emma (Stewart) will be tough enough. That is a goal,” Dixon said.
With just two meetings remaining in 2018-2019, no horseperson in the history of harness racing in Australasia had trained more winners in a year than Grant Dixon. He is also only one of three drivers this season to have gone past the 200-win mark with 233.
Dixon trained (as at Friday afternoon) 335 winners from 2,233 starters. He has finished second 295 times and ran third on 268 occasions. His season earnings currently sit at $2,925,768. Stewart was second with 302 wins.
“There’s been many highlights, and none of it would have happened without good owners and good staff (12). Trista might be having our child in late November, but she’s still been the one that has done all the behind-the-scenes work with our staff and family. She’s kept it all ticking over. She’s the rock.
“I’ve also had many good owners over the years who have stuck by me. The great thing about many of my long-time owners, without mentioning specific names...is that they are both gracious winners and gracious losers. That makes the job a lot easier. They are just genuine good people to work for,” he added.
Forever humble, Dixon also deflected a lot of the praise to his farrier and on-track rival, John Cremin, and his vet Tina Hawthorne.
“They have helped us win all these races as well. There’s been so many others too, like Travis McKay, who helps John, and our retired vet, Dr Peter Hill.”
Dixon said it would be business as usual next week, but first he said he hoped to nail a couple of more winners before the curtain falls on the season at Albion Park at 8.40pm on Saturday.
“I might take the boys south, skiing for a couple of days in mid-September, but that will be it. It will be work as usual. We have a big team to work and race and owners who want winners,” he said.
“I’d be happy with two more. I think 240 is just beyond our reach now. We have got the horses in on Saturday who could win a couple, but then again we could have two or three place-getters as well.
“It depends on what luck they get in the running.”
Dixon, who has a full book of eight drives, then spoke about all 16 of his runners on Saturday (with driver, and opening odds):
Race 1: STOMPEM (6) Dixon - $5.50 third favourite): "Christian Cullen gelding who is racing well. He’s drawn a bit wide but he’s good enough to be an each-way chance here.”
Race 2: HEZ RAZOR SHARP (4) Paul Diebert - $51 and MAJOR GENERALJUJON (11) Dixon - $31: “They will both need a bit of luck, but the 11 is going as good as he ever has. He just needs the pace on from back there.
Race 3: BRADS LUCK (3) Dixon - $2.50 favourite: “I’ve only had this fella a week and I’m real happy with him. I think he’s quite a reasonable chance in this. Each-way.”
Race 4: ALLELUIA (3) Adam Sanderson - $21 and LEOS BEST (4) Dixon - $9: “They are both racing okay, but the ones to beat in this are the one (Watch Pulp Fiction) and the six (Northview Hustler). In saying that my two are both honest and won’t be far away.”
Race 5: KINETIC KATE (2) Diebert - $5; MISS PATRIOT (5) Trent Lethaby (c) - $21; and IMA BLACK BEAUTY (9) Dixon - $9: “The two and the nine are both each-way chances, but the seven (Ideal Bliss) will be the hardest to beat here.”
Race 6: OUR OVERANOVA (3) Dixon - $3 second favourite; MIRACLE RISING (7) Sanderson - $17; and SOUTHERN ALPS (10) Diebert - $34: “This is Miracle Rising’s first race back after a let-up, and he will be better for the run. Our Overanova is a super chance but then so again is Empire Bay ($2.50 favourite).”
Race 7: AQUA MISS (6) Dixon - $5 fourth favourite and ROCKNROLL EMMA (7) Lethaby (c) - $7: “The six is a nice little filly who can get some of it despite the draw, while the seven is an each-way chance too if she can cop some luck from the wide draw.
Race 8: ABBEY DIADEMA (2) Lethaby (c) - $7 and BLACKJACK BART (9) Dixon - $3.50 second favourite: “This is their last race before a spell. The latter is going very well at the moment and with any luck should be hard to beat. I would rate him an each-way chance in this while the other one can place from the kind draw.”