By Glenn Davis
A midfield barrier hasn’t dented the hopes of former hometown boy Darryl Hansen’s bid for a fourth win in the Newmarket Handicap with Divine Service at Rockhampton on Saturday.
Divine Service drew barrier eight in the 1300-metre Newmarket which has attracted one of the strongest fields in years.
Several trainers have won the Newmarket three times, including Hansen, who was successful with Onalar (2008), Perugin Thought (2011) and Le Cap (2015).
However, only one trainer, Dick Buckley, has won the Newmarket more times since the race was first run in 1918.
Buckley holds the record with five wins beginning with his first in 1953 before notching up a hat-trick of wins between 1955-57 while his final success was in 1961.
Hansen was born in Charters Towers but started his training career in Rockhampton before eventually moving to his current base at the Sunshine Coast.
Divine Service went close to giving Hansen’s his fourth win when runner-up to Lauterbrunnen two years ago.
Divine Service was in the spelling paddock for last year’s Newmarket but Hansen is delighted with his form going into this year’s feature.
“He’s only had one run back this campaign when he ran second to Dylan’s Luck at Rocky last month,” Hansen said.
“It was an excellent run and he was only found wanting due to his fitness in the last 100 metres.
“He’s improved a lot since then and I’m expecting him to run well again even though it’s a very strong race with Niccanova and Too Good To Refuse in it.
“He went close to winning this race two years ago when he led and was only nabbed on the line.”
Hansen also is hopeful of landing the prestigious Newmarket-Rockhampton Cup double.
Hansen has never won the Rockhampton Cup which will be run on Saturday but gives Balboa Rocks a great chance.
Balboa Rocks has won two of his three starts this campaign after Hansen decided to bypass the Brisbane winter carnival with the four-year-old.
Balboa Rocks took his record to seven wins from 24 starts when a commanding winner over 1600 metres at Rockhampton on June 24.
Racing Queensland webnews July 4