By Duane Ranger
You can’t blame one of Australia’s best trainers, Grant Dixon, for thinking he is emerging from a recent lean spell.
After setting a national record of 340 training victories last season, 2019-2020 has been a stop-start season for the talented 47-year-old.
In November, his wife Trista gave birth to their third child Cooper, and a month later Dixon’s legendary Hall-of-Fame father, Bill, passed away.
In December, Dixon also flew back and forth from Auckland to compete in the 2019 Interdominions with Colt Thirty One and since then, has also made several trips inter-state with his team.
“Even though it’s unsettling and frustrating times here and world-wide, it’s good to be at home and spending more time with the kids and Trista,” Dixon said.
“My wife does a huge amount of work for the stable and at home, I’m pleased for her and the staff that we had a good night on Saturday.
“It’s been a real lean run of late, and hopefully Adam might have also helped turn that around.”
Dixon was referring to his mate and top Queensland reinsman, Adam Sanderson, who drove two of Dixon’s three winners.
Dixon kicked his hat-trick off in race five when he drove Mr Feelgood gelding, Sea Hawke to a 1.1m victory.
The four-year-old stormed from back in the field after being last in the final 500 metres to get past runner-up and favourite, Johnny White.
“That was his first Saturday night win. The race was run upside down with the fast pace, and the 2,138m, suited him,” Dixon said.
“He’s a nice four-year-old who has won five this season, and three as a three-year-old, and I think Kevin and Kay (Seymour) will win a few races with him once he gets into full stride.”
One race later, Sanderson claimed Mares Open Pace with four-year-old Bettor’s mare, Eternal Promise.
“She’s a smart mare, who was gifted the race by Pelosi’s ($1.20) early break - Pelosi did well to finish second (1.8m) and would have won the race,” Dixon said.
“But this mare goes well, Adam set a good tempo in pace and they couldn’t catch her.
“I think she will go through the grades all right and especially do well against the mares.
“There’s a Sires Stakes race I’ll target on May 16 and then she would go back to her owner, Shannon Price, to train.”
Sanderson completed the Dixon hat-trick in the last race – the Open Trot behind The Pres gelding, Lavros Texas.
The eight-year-old arrived in the nick of time to steal victory off outsider and pacemaker, Foursharesmorebeers.
“Adam judged the race perfectly,” Dixon said.
“We had high hopes for him when we got him in October, but he’s had a lot of soreness, which I think we have that sorted now - things are starting to fall back into place for him.
“If we can keep him healthy I think he’s the sort of horse who will win a few more.
“He’s a real nice trotter when right and well worth persevering with.”
With his form slump seemingly a thing of the past, Dixon maintains that he will continue building on the 159 winners he has trained this season.
“We line up more horses than any other trainer in Australia, so there’s always a high chance we are going to win a race or two,” he said.
“Trainers go through highs and lows, and we all know that.
“I just hope this little lean period – especially on Saturday nights – has come to an end.”
Dixon’s three-peat aside, a second hat-trick also came to fruition at Albion Park on Saturday night.
Queensland’s leading female driver, Narissa McMullen, grabbed herself three winners on the 10-race card.
She kicked off proceedings by driving the Cristina Monte trained Tulhurst to victory in the opening race, before repeating the dose behind the Stephen Cini trained Urban Girl in the third.
But perhaps her personal highlight came in race eight, when the gifted 25-year-old drove Midnight Man to win from wide on the second row.
McMullen also trains the six-year-old Village gelding, who came from last at the 800 marker to win by 2.1 metres.
“He’s a very quick horse when at his best, so I thought I’d put him into the race and see what he could do - he sprinted a really nice half and tried all the way to the line,” McMullen said.
“It’s taken a bit of time to get him right since arriving from Western Australia, but now he’s on the right track, I think he’ll do a good job racing through the Saturday night grades.”