By Duane Ranger
If someone had forked out another $4,000 for Manila Playboy at last year’s Redcliffe Yearling Sales, then the biggest night of Shane Fraser and Kelli Dawson’s racing careers would never have happened.
The longtime training and driving duo nailed their first Group 1 victories at Redcliffe Paceway on Saturday night when the gifted Pet Rock gelding toughed it out to win the $100,000 Redcliffe Yearling Sales 12th 2YO Series Final.
Sadly, Fraser wasn’t permitted to attend the races due to the current COVID-19 restrictions.
The Tweed Heads horseman, who is now based at Bob Markey’s stables in Currumbin, was represented by his mother Jenelle, who took out a stable hand licence just so Manila Playboy could get to the track.
“I can’t believe it, our family has been involved in this great sport for more than half a century and I’ve finally cracked a race we all dreamed of winning – a Group 1,” Shane Fraser said.
“Dad (Ian) has had some good horses going back to the late 1960s, and I’ve taken over from him, and now Mum has temporarily taken over from me.
“Manila Playboy is a family horse, we bred and own him; he was a buy-back at the 2019 Redcliffe Yearling sales.
"Bob and Rhett Markey have been so welcoming in allowing me to build stables on their property, I'm so grateful for that."
The 47-year-old paid $8,000 for Manila Playboy, and was prepared to go to $12,000; anything above that he said he would have let him go.
“I had a reserve of $14,000, but would have probably sold him for a little bit less than that, perhaps $12k,” Fraser said.
“I also bought back his little half-brother (by A Rocknroll Dance) at this year’s Sale for $6,000.
“The dam (Bangkok Dancer) has done a good job, Monarch Farms needs to be applauded for the way they look after their mares.
“Bangkok Dancer won 11 races herself, she missed this year but has a Lincoln Royal (Sir Lincoln NZ) weanling filly.
“She’s been a quality broodmare for us, her second foal, Bangkok Bravado, won eight races.
“Cheese And Kisses I think is even better, she’s a three-year-old half-sister out of Betterthancheddar and she’s won two.
“I remember Kelli used to drive Bangkok Bravado, we go back maybe 10 years and I really love her driving.”
It still hadn’t sunk in when Dawson spoke about her first Group 1 victory last night.
“I’m 30 now and been driving for half my life (15 seasons) and I’ve finally achieved my dream, I think it will take a day or two before I realise what I’ve done though,” Dawson said.
“A lot of drivers don’t achieve this so I consider myself very fortunate, I just want to thank Shane and his family for putting me on this very nice horse again.
“I’ve won a Group 3 race behind Destreos in the Be Good Johnny Sprint (2012) before, but nothing beats this - I will never forget tonight.”
Dawson said she had spoken to Fraser before and after the 1,780m mobile and they both knew that Manila Playboy had to be put into the race from his awkward barrier draw of seven.
“We had to make our own luck, he’s only had four starts now and hasn’t had a decent draw yet (7,6,11, 8) so I had to put him close to the pace or we might have got left behind,” Dawson said.
Dawson went and sat parked with Manila Playboy at the 1100 metre mark and he stuck on tenaciously to win by 1.7m from Shes Miss Divine.
He stopped the clock in 2:09.7 (mile rate 1:57.3) with sectionals of 29.8, 30.2, 29.2, and 29.1.
Manila Playboy has now won three of his four starts, with a bank balance of $73,045.