By Duane Ranger
Queensland’s leading horseman Grant Dixon trained and drove half the card on the first night of the TAB Queensland Winter Carnival on Saturday night.
Then immediately after the last race he joked saying that he hoped he hadn’t ‘peaked too soon’.
“I’d swap the five wins for a Group One next week or the week after, he joked.
“It was a good night at the office. I’m quite proud of the achievement. The team is peaking nicely. It’s a credit to all our staff,” 46-year-old Dixon said.
Dixon, who is poised to win his seventh Australian Training Premiership in eight years, has had a record 1901 starters to the races this season for 292 winners ($2.19m).
That is 42 more than Victoria's Emma Stewart, who claimed last year's training premiership off him by 18 wins (309 - 291).
Incredibly that was the first time in 11 seasons that Dixon or his father Bill had not won the national training premiership.
Up until last season Dixon had won the previous five national premierships dating back to the 2011-2012 season. His father won the four consecutive training premierships before handing over the reins. Their stats can be read at the bottom of this story.
Dixon’s five winners on Saturday came via
- Colt Thirty One in the Listed $25,000 Badcock – Lucky Creed Open Pace
- Governor Jujon in the $21,000 Wayne Wilson Memorial & Paleface Classic
- Our Overanova in the $15,000 Haras Des Trotteurs Open Trot
- Eleniark in the $13,000 Mares Open Pace and;
- Fame Assured in the $13,000 Neil Badcock Band Five Pace.
Dixon was rapt with the way Colt Thirty One (11) worked his way around from back in the field to control the race and then win easily by almost 4m.
“That was a solid preparation for next week’s Sunshine Sprint. I managed to get him onto the pace on a slow quarter and then he just paced so fluent throughout. I actually thought Northview Hustler was the horse to beat when the draws came out,” Dixon said.
He said Governor Jujon also paced cleanly as that gifted colt led throughout from gate one, and then strolled to an 8.2m victory.
Dixon said Governor Jujon would now be set for Group One 100,000, 2yo Triad in a fortnight; Our Overanova, the Group Two Queensland Trotters Cup this Saturday, and the Group Three Trotters Marathon, a week later; Eleniark will contest next week’s Ladyship Stakes and then the Winter Cup; while Fame Assured will line up in the Open Mares Pace this week, and the Winter Cup the following Saturday.
“All five went well tonight. I was really pleased with the trotter (Our Overanova), because he’s been handicapped out of it lately and from the good draw (2) and the mobile, I thought he would be hard to beat. He proved me right, and trotted well,” Dixon said.
“I’m looking forward to the Group One races coming up with Colt Thirty One and Governor Jujon. Both those horses are racing really well and like I said I'd give up the five wins tonight for a Group One win,” Dixon joked.
And speaking of Group One missions – the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen ‘All Stars’ Christchurch stable only had two starters at Albion Park and both were above average 3-year-olds.
Self Assured and Our Princess Tiffany both won as $1.85 and $1.18 favourites respectively.
Purdon was ill and Kyle Rasmussen, who replaced him at the last hour, proved to be a more than worthy replacement.
Self Assured looks the likely TAB Queensland Derby favourite in a fortnight, while Our Princess Tiffany looks to have next Saturday’s Group 1 $100,000 TAB Queensland Oaks at her mercy.
"She (OPT) hasn't raced since June 1. That was a solid performance first-up tonight. She paces along at a high speed and has a heap of talent. She will be a lot better for this win going into her next race,” Rasmussen said.
Our Princess Tiffany had just half-a-neck to spare over Miss Streisand and Roy Roots Jnr, when nailing her 14th career win from 18 starts in the Group Three $31,000 South East Oaks.
Self Assured made it four wins from four career starts when victorious by 2.8m in the first ever Group Three $31,000 J.C. McMullen Memorial Pace.
“He is a lightly tried young horse with a lot of untapped talent. After the Winter Carnival he will be spelled and then prepared for his 4-year-old season back in New Zealand,” Purdon said.
The Dixon stats read:
2019: Currently first - 43 wins ahead of Victoria's Emma Stewart with 292 winners and $2.1 million in purses..
2018: 291 ($2.4m) second.
2017: 286 ($1.7m) first.
2016: 245 ($1.7m) first.
2015: 282 ($2.3m) first.
2014: 260 ($2.0m) first.
2013: 226 ($2.1m) first.
2012: 265 ($1.1m) first.
2011: 299 ($1.8m) first.
2010: 264 ($0.5m) first.
2009: 242 ($1.6m) first.
2008: 243 ($1.4m) first.
The Dixons’ racing numbers have steadily increased over the years from 1,100 starters from Bill Dixon in 2007-2008 to the 1,901 starters that his son has lined up this season - compared to the 1,630 when he went out on his own in 2011-2012.