By Duane Ranger
Classy Tamborine horseman, Paul Diebert, reckons he would be nowhere near the top of the Queensland Driving Premiership had he not received a rev-up from his boss, Grant Dixon, about seven or eight months ago.
“Grant sat me down and told me that if I wanted to be successful in harness racing I had to up my game. He told me to prepare better - do my form, study other horses, visualise and predict outcomes.
“It was the exact wake-up call I needed. He made me realise what this game is all about. If you aren’t professional you won’t go far,” Diebert said.
“Grant’s definitely improved my driving. I can see why he is so good,” he added.
As well as being Australia’s premier trainer last season Dixon was also Queensland’s best driver with 237 wins – 52 and 100 more than the McMullen siblings – Peter and Narissa respectively.
Last year’s fourth-placed reinsman, Nathan Dawson (136), is the current 2020 Premiership leader with 96 driving wins – nine more than Diebert and 17 more than Peter McMullen.
“I’ve taken in what Grant said and it works,” said Diebert, who didn’t finish in the Top 10 last year.
The 25-year-old former New South Wales native had his greatest moment in the sport not long after Dixon’s chat.
Ten years after first doing jog work for his family, Diebert drove the Dixon trained Ohoka Punter to win the $100,000 Garrards Sunshine Sprint.
That passing lane victory on July 13 ensured Diebert’s first Group One victory.
“That night will stay with me for a long time, but I love this job and it doesn’t bother me if I’m driving at Marburg, Leeton, Redcliffe or Albion Park, I get the same thrill, that same winning feeling.
“Grant has let me spread my wings a bit more this season and I’m thankful to him for letting me drive for other trainers.
“Trista and Grant are so good to work for. I’m proud to wear their colours. In fact, any colours I wear I’m grateful for the drives I’m given. All I want to do is win,” Diebert said.
Diebert will don the Dixon black and white checks twice on Saturday night at Albion Park.
The former Flora Hill and Bendigo South educated Diebert has four drives at ‘The Creek’ tomorrow night, and all four opened up paying $4.80 or less.
“One of them might not start (Outlaw Fella), but that’s entirely up to Grant. If he does, he will be right in it. All four of them can go well on Friday.
“It’s interesting to see that they are well in the market. The draws are okay. A lot will depend on the start and where we are situated,” said Diebert.
“I’d say the lightly tried Hurrikane Kingcole 2-year-old gelding, Stoker Ace, would be my best winning hope,” he added.
Diebert then went in-depth about the quartet. Here’s what he said (with trainer, draw, form, and opening odds):
Race 4: The Cristina Monte trained JAMIES BAD BOY (4) 21222 - $4. “Badlands Hanover 6-year-old, who is not great off the arm. In fact, we led early from one last Saturday night and then I lost him just before the first turn. He recovered well to finish second. I will look for a forward position from gate four, but who knows where he will end up. He can win parked if need be. I’ve driven him six times now for three wins and three seconds.”
Race 6: The Grant Dixon trained OUTLAW FELLA (8) 10005 - $3.80. “Nine-year-old gelding who hasn’t been 100 per cent during the week, and it would not surprise me if he was a late scratching. He’s not eating like he should, but Grant will have him monitored closely. He will only start him if he’s healthy. If he does line up, he will be ready and rearing to go behind the leader.”
Race 8: The Grant Dixon trained REIGN ON ME (4) 83151 - $4.80. “Monarchy mare, who is a real nice trotter, but a hard girl to drive. She’s working and racing real well with cover lately, and that’s her best race scenario. If she’s covered up, she will be real tough to beat here. She’s the fastest trotter that I’ve sat behind. She can win from out in front, and she can win parked, but ideally, I’d love some cover again. This is a $21k feature race and she is a god each-way bet, especially if she gets the last run at them.”
Race 9: The Wayne Graham trained STOKER ACE (1) 32 - $3. “Lightly tried Hurrikane Kingcole 2-year-old gelding, who is still learning, and isn’t great off the gate. I think the trainer is looking more long-term than this race, so if things go wrong it’s to be expected with a young horse. In saying that we will be trying to win, and he’s gone close in his two starts. Those runs under his belt will help him here. If he doesn’t step quick, he can still win from the trail or three-deep even. I’ve driven him all the way through and am not trying to teach him any bad habits. This Ones For You and his stablemate, Outa The Blue are smart pacers, who will take some beating in this. We do have the economical draw though, and all things going well this fella should run a big race.”