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Major Cam firing on all cylinders

Catch up on the week’s harness racing action in our weekly review, thanks to Darren Clayton.

 

THE GOOD

Major Cam has faced his share of battles throughout his career but on Saturday night he produced one of his finest victories.

In a career littered with issues and layoffs, the giant nine-year-old showed he still has the desire and instinct with a breathtaking last-to-first victory in the Remembering Atomic Ark Pace.

Settling at the rear of the field as Mattgregor set the tempo in front, a steady early pace over the 2138-metre distance was making it look a difficult assignment for those back in the field.

Still at the rear of the pack as the third split was put down in a sizzling 26.8 seconds, driver Kylie Rasmussen made her move.

Angling across runners as they turned for home, Major Cam was soon the widest runner and shaken up to give chase, and give chase he did.

Charging home down the outside of the track, he picked them up and put them away in the blink of an eye in claiming a two-metre victory.

The win was astounding, with horses just not winning in free for all company in that manner.

Trained by Darren Weeks, driven by Kylie Rasmussen and owned by her mother Cheryl, the win took Major Cam’s record to 59 starts for 26 wins and 13 minor placings and earnings of $235,000.

Starting his career with a Redcliffe victory as a three-year-old in December 2014, Major Cam has been sidelined for periods of nine months or longer on three separate occasions.

Following two wins from six starts in his first campaign, he was away from the track for 12 months, returning as a four-year-old with a first-up victory at Albion Park.

It was to be a successful four-year-old term that returned 7 wins and 3 minors from 12 outings.

Included were a pair of Group victories - the Group 2 Four-Year-Old Triad Final and the Group 3 Four-Year-Old Championship.

The 4YO Championship victory would be his last in that season, with two more starts before another 11-month stint on the sidelines.

Returning as a five-year-old, he showed no effects of the long break when scoring a gritty win first-up from outside the leader to claim his tenth career victory.

A further six wins that season were followed with his progression to open company early in the new season as a six-year-old.

Major Cam announced himself to the Free For All ranks with a dominant victory at his second start of the 2017/18 season in a field that included battle-hardened open class performers Alleluia and Mach Alert.

Apart from a half-head second in the 2017 Redcliffe Patron’s Purse behind Bettorthanspecial, all his racing has been at Albion Park.

His latest victory has elevated him into the ’25 Club’ for horses that have achieved 25 victories at The Creek.

That victory indicating there is still film left to be added to the Major Cam highlight reel.

 

THE BAD

George Michael is an owner, breeder and trainer that has put huge amounts of money and hard work into the sport of harness racing.

With many of the horses owned by Michael bred by his own stallions in recent times, in 2016, he opted to send a mare by the name of Melton Bonny Bye to the court of Hurrikane Kingcole.

The resultant foal was a filly, and that filly was then entered in the 2019 Redcliffe Yearling Sale.

Entering the sales ring, the filly could not attract a solitary bid and was knocked down as a buyback to Michael for the paltry figure of $200.

Naming his horses with the moniker of Melton as either a suffix or prefix in their name referring to Melton Stud - which is owned and operated by Michael - this filly would race as Melton Insulted.

Given the name owing to how George Michael was feeling after his filly could not even secure a solitary bid at that 2019 sale.

Fast forward to her two-year-old season and Melton Insulted - now prepared by John McMullen - progressed through to the Redcliffe Sales Series Final following a placing in her heat.

There was to be no fairy tale in the $100,000 Group 1 Final, however the filly ended the extended season with 8 minor placings from 16 attempts.

Stepping out as a three-year-old on January 7 at Redcliffe in her first start for the new season, Melton Insulted was able to land a maiden-breaking victory.

Races

1

Redcliffe | Redcliffe Peninsula Harness Racing & Sporting Club | 11:39 AM

DAN COSTELLO PHOTOGRAPHY MAIDEN PACE

Every cloud has a silver lining and the lining on this occasion was for Michael’s pockets.

In claiming victory, the filly also pocketed the $12,000 QBRED first win bonus.

Not bad for a horse that no one wanted!

 

THE MILESTONE

Breeding is a character-building part of racing that can test the toughest of people and assess their resilience.

Keith Croft has been lucky enough with his mare Versace Woman, on the most part, to experience the highs that breeding brings.

On Saturday night at Albion Park, Versace Woman was able to land a metropolitan double when Just Joshin and Jiggle And Jive were both successful.

Full siblings by the champion sire Bettors Delight, both pacers are trained out of Redcliffe by Aileen Smith and owned by Croft.

Just Joshin was the first and perhaps unexpected of the double when claiming victory in a Qualifying Pace.

Securing a perfect trip in behind the leader after starting from barrier one, Lachie Manzelmann was able to steer the six-year-old to victory via the passing lane.

Securing a last stride victory by the barest possible margin, the winning rate of 1.55.3 also set a new benchmark for the gelding in landing his ninth career win.

Less than 90 minutes later and the winning double for Croft, Smith and Versace Woman was completed when Jiggle And Jive triumphed.

Already a Group 1 winner after claiming the 2019 2YO Fillies Triad Final, the four-year-old mare was able to break a winless streak when scoring a narrow victory in a mare’s event.

After returning as a three-year-old with three successive victories, Jiggle And Jive just lost her way somewhat and after a steep rise in class that saw her meeting experienced rivals.

A string of bad gates did not aid her cause, and after landing gate 1 on Saturday night, driver Shane Graham made the most of the advantage.

Leading throughout, the mare was able to hold on for a narrow victory as Tuapeka Light made one last bid to get within a half-head of the winner.

With a team of four in work - three of those full siblings out of Versace Woman - it has been a successful fortnight for Smith landing a pair of doubles.

Joy To All - the third of the Bettors Delight x Versace Woman in Aileen’s team - was able to break through for her first victory at Redcliffe on December 30.

Also successful on that night in completing a double for Smith was Regalia, the four-year-old claiming his second career victory.

Owned and bred by Aileen along with her father Cliff Gassman, the gelding is out of the mare Idontneedluck that Smith raced to 12 career wins.

Season 2021 has certainly started the best way possible.

 

THE WILDCARD

Daroobalgie is a small hamlet just off the Newel Highway between Forbes and Parkes in the Lachlan Valley of New South Wales.

It is also the name given to a handy pacer that raced in the early to mid-2000s for owner/breeder Carol Wood and her husband Bruce, who was also the trainer of the stallion.

In an impressive career that netted 21 victories, the highlight was a Group 1 success when claiming the 2001 3YO NSW Sires Stakes.

As a four-year-old, he was able to progress through to the 2002 Inter Dominion Final won by Smooth Satin.

In a four-start Queensland campaign in 2003 as a five-year-old, he finished unplaced each time, including an eighth in the Winter Cup won by Sokyola and down the line in the Redcliffe Cup.

At stud - with limited opportunities - Daroobalgie has been able to sire five winners from 11 starters.

Of those five, three have been successful at Redcliffe - Gargarra, Ceear Rail and Aroona.

Last Thursday, 15 years to the day since Daroobalgie contested the Shepparton Cup, Aroona claimed his fifth career victory.

Races

3

Redcliffe | Redcliffe Peninsula Harness Racing & Sporting Club | 12:42 PM

GARRARDS HORSE & HOUND PACE

Trained by Melissa Kendall and driven to victory by her son Zac Chappenden, Kendall has been patient with the now eight-year-old.

Repaying that patience has seen the gelding claim five victories and place on a further 22 occasions under her care after taking on Aroona as a 15-start maiden.

The win of Aroona provided mother and son team of Melissa and Zac with the first leg of a race-to-race double.

Wild About Town was the second leg when the seven-year-old was able to lead all the way in scoring his sixth victory for Kendall.

Scoring a double with a pair of pacers that entered her barn as maidens and virtual cast-offs, they have started the latest season in perfect fashion.

 

THIS WEEK

This coming week will again see five race meetings held in Queensland.

Albion Park kicks off the week with an eight-race card followed by Redcliffe on Wednesday night with ten races to be decided.

Redcliffe on Thursday afternoon will be followed by Albion Park Friday afternoon.

The week will be rounded out with something a little different to the normal schedule, with Redcliffe hosting the metropolitan staked meeting.

Highlighting the card will be a Trotters Cup race offering total stakes of $22,210, run over the 2613-metre distance with conditions of discretionary handicap.

There will also be the final of the Hustler Raptor Series following two heats last Wednesday.

For the 47-52 rated performers with a random barrier draw, heat winners were Headwin and Pacific Coin.

All participants and stakeholders are requested to keep pace with the latest advice from Racing Queensland to ensure COVID-19 protocols are met.