By Duane Ranger
Majestic Simon’s 2.4-metre win in Saturday’s Jim McNeill Memorial Trotting Championship at Albion Park was just the tonic needed for co-owner, Pam Hopper.
Just on a fortnight ago Mrs Hopper was in intensive care at St Andrews War Memorial Hospital in Brisbane after having a valve replaced in her heart.
The 76-year-old Albion resident, who lives in a retirement home not far from the track, was at home on Saturday night recovering and watching her great-niece Chantal Turpin, train and drive the 5-year-old Majestic Son gelding to Group Three glory.
“Chantal is a wonderful horsewoman. This fella never used to step, and now she’s got him getting away nicely. He’s a real credit to Chantal and Peter (McMullen),” Mrs Hopper said.
Mrs Hopper co-owns Majestic Simon with Ross Patrick, who was holidaying in South Africa when Majestic Simon notched up his sixth win in 20 starts, and fifth on the track.
“I’ve never won a Group race before, but have placed a few times. I’ve been involved in racing all my life. My father and grandfather had horses, and I used to have Chantal’s father (Tony) train a few of mine.
“’Simon’ would be the best horse I have been involved in,” Mrs Hopper said.
She said she would have loved to have been on-course to watch ‘Simon’ come from the 30m back-mark to win the 2,467m mobile.
“I’m okay, but still need a bit more time to recover. I’ve waited a long time for a nice trotter, so I’m sure there will be plenty more races to watch him live.
“Chantal and Peter have really turned this horse around. It was quite exciting really. I never thought he could win from that far back,” Mrs Hopper said.
But it was an electric move at the 450m from back in the field which ensured victory. In fact Turpin’s drive was the winning of the race.
They were well back in the field when they sprouted wings and then they just kept giving until the finishing line. ‘Simon’ stopped the clock in 3:23 even (mile rate 2:02 flat) and his sectionals were 31.2, 30.3, 29.6, and 30.8.
“I thought he might be tough to beat if he stepped. His acceleration won him the race,” Turpin said.
“That win was also for Aunty Pam. She deserves this. We are all super proud of ‘Simon’ too, and think he has a very bright future.,” Turpin said.
“I also want to thank the entire team at home for their hard work,” she added.
Turpin was one of six women to win the 11 races carded by the Albion Park Harness Racing Club on Saturday night.
That was the same number of winners as last week’s 10-race card. Narissa McMullen, Lola Weidemann, and Kelli Dawson repeated the dose again this week.
In fact it was appropriate that Dawson won Saturday’s $12,850 WDF Team Teal Female Drivers Invitation Pace, because she is an ‘2020 Team Teal’ Ambassador.
Dawson earned the $200 donation to ovarian cancer by steering the Donny Smith (Redcliffe) trained With The Band to an all-the-way win in that sixth event.
“It’s a real honour to win races in these teal pants. We all know someone who has been affected or died from cancer. I think all of us girls know the pressure is on when we race for this cause.
“Donny had the horse spot on tonight. She was always travelling well. Any race is great to win, but being an Ambassador just adds that little bit more spice to it,” Dawson said.
Team Teal winners: KerryAnn Morris and Dark Energy (R1); Kylie Rasmussen and Bumper (R3); Narissa McMullen and Major Currency (R4); Kelli Dawson and With The Band (R6); Chantal Turpin and Majestic Simon (R7); Lola Weidemann and Justabitnoisy (R11).
Meanwhile, the individual highlights of Saturday night came from Cristina Monte and Adam Richardson, who trained and drove two winners each.
Monte won the second race after Paul Diebert elected to sit parked with Left A Terror. They won by 1.1 metres, while Adam Richardson and Secret Jack led all the way as $1.85 favourites when scoring in race nine.
Richardson also saluted the judge in race five when he led from go-to-woe behind the Ian Gurney trained Smooth Showgirl.
Richardson is now sixth on the Queensland Driving Premiership with 58 winners, 148 place-getters, and netted almost $400,000 in stakes.