By Duane Ranger
With a half century of winners behind him in 2019-2020, Redcliffe trainer Donny Smith is now embarking on the next 50 - with what he has termed his best ever team.
The 59-year-old Redcliffe trainer, who works a stable of 20, nailed two winners at his home track on Thursday night, and has two horses nominated for Saturday’s spectator-free meeting at Albion Park.
“As I look out at my paddock from home, I sometimes have to pinch myself to check if those good horses out there are actually mine,” Smith said.
“I’ve been training horses for about 25 years now and this is the strongest barn I’ve ever had.
Both geldings can win at Albion Park tomorrow night.”
The two pacers Smith was referring to were Sole Ambition (1) and CC Jones (9), who opened up the second favourite and favourite in races one and three respectively.
“I think both horses are each-way chances, with perhaps Sole Ambition being the better winning hope, simply because he has drawn better,” Smith said.
He said both pacers could be part of the trek to Menangle in the near future and with Slice Of Heaven, Always In Command and With The Band, it becomes Smith’s strongest ever stable.
“With The Band could go to Menangle, while Slice Of Heaven is lining up tonight (Friday),” Smith said.
“We gave Always In Command a couple of weeks off, and he’s been back in work for two weeks now.
“He will probably race in three or four weeks.”
There’s no doubting Smith is one of Queensland’s best horsemen, he has been for years.
So far this season, Smith has racked up 50 winners and 52 placings from 209 starters.
He has banked just over $300,000 in purses, with 11 of his victories have been at Albion Park.
That places Smith fourth on the Queensland Training Premiership after last year finishing fifth and the year before that seventh.
In 2018-19, Smith won 83 races and placed 109 times ($485,384) - 15 of them in the city, while the season before Smith won 61 races ($336,369) including 10 at ‘The Creek’.
Last season’s stake earnings were boosted by A Good Chance, who left Australia bound for the United States a winner at Albion Park on July 27.
Four years earlier, Smith trained the son of Mr Feelgood to win the Group One $100,000 QBRED 3yo Triad Final.
Here’s what the master trainer had to say about his two chances at Albion Park tomorrow (Saturday) night.
His comments are with race, runner, draw, form, driver, and opening odds:
Race 1: The Donny Smith trained SOLE AMBITION (1) 33126 (Chris Geary) $5.50 second favourite. “Bettors Delight 4-year-old gelding, who struck a bit of trouble when he first came over here (December 11), because he was an Alexandra Park horse, and they go the right-handed (clock-wise) way around. We’ve sorted that issue, and I believe he can lead and win. Chris will drive him for the first time. I put him on because he’s a very astute horseman, who always does his form. He will be able to read the race. If we lead or trail, I think this fella is good enough to win. He’s also got very good early speed, so however the race pans out he’ll get a crack at them over the over the 2,138m (mobile).
Race 3: The Donny Smith trained CC JONES (9) 31911 (Nathan Dawson) $4 favourite. “Christian Cullen 5-year-old gelding, who has won three of his last four starts and follows out $5 second favourite, Major Generaljujon and Grant Dixon. He’s been going good out here (Redcliffe) and deserves this race in the city. I’d prefer he drew well off the front-line, but even from nine it looks like he will be in the one-one or one-out-and-three-back at worst. As long as he can get one go at them he will go close. He should be there when the whips are cracking, even though he’s a better front-runner.”