By Duane Ranger
Racing Queensland and the Albion Park Harness Racing Club’s 2019 TAB Queensland Summer Harness Racing Carnival kicks off at ‘The Creek’ in three days with almost $500,000 in purses up for grabs over next three Saturday nights.
This Saturday’s 11-race programme is highlighted by the Group Three $32,000 The Be Good Johnny Sprint; the $21,000 APHRC Members Cup; and three heats of the Darrell Alexander Memorial Trotting Championship.
The latter final will be a Group One $50,000 event staged at Albion Park on December 21.
Racing Queensland’s Harness Development Strategy Manager, David Brick, said The Darrell Alexander Trot Final would ensure the 12th Group One harness race in Queensland this year.
“In 2018 Racing Queensland set about implementing trotting growth strategy and kudos must go to the participants getting behind us and supporting this strategy. This is clearly evidenced by the volume and strength of the fields in this years DJA,” Brick said.
Thirty-two squaregaiters have been nominated for the DJA. They will compete in three $8,440 heats in races seven, eight, and 10.
Old rivals and likely DJA favourites, the Wayne Graham trained Empire Bay, and the Grant Dixon trained two-time ‘Trotter-of-the-Year’, Our Overanova, have both drawn 11 - in races seven and eight respectively.
Saturday’s feature event is undoubtedly The Be Good Johnny Sprint, (Race 6) where the Donny Smith trained Always In Command will be going for his eighth consecutive victory, and third straight at Albion Park. He has drawn five.
“Even though he’s racing well there is still room for improvement in him yet,” Redcliffe-based Smith warned.
The other feature for the NR60 to 75 pacers, comes in Race 9, the Members Cup.
The above average Governor Jujon, returns from a five-month spell, but won both of his trials on this course emphatically last month. The gifted Cammibest 3-year-old has drawn ideally at one.
Last season’s Group One Redcliffe Sales 2-year-old winner goes into the race, having won five of his six starts and ran second in the other.
He appears trained to the minute after trial wins on November 19 and 26 by 6.3m and 1.6m respectively. His winning mile rates were 1:57.7 and 1:56.4.
Next Saturday (December 14), which is also Inter Dominion Grand Final night, will see the running of the $25,000 Forever Gold Mares Cup, and the $21,000 Christmas Cup for the open pacers.
The 2019 Summer Carnival then reaches its climax on December 21 with the Group One $50,000 DJA Final; the Group Two $50,000 Queensland Cup for the open pacers; the $21,000 Bill Dixon for the NR60-75 pacers; and $14,999 King Of The Claimers Pace.
“With Pacers and Chasers restaurant now open featuring new menu and facilities and a warm balmy night expected, I encourage all to head trackside,” Brick said.
Fields for the first night of the Carnival can be viewed here. First race: 5.38pm – Race 11: 10.35pm.