By Duane Ranger
Tamborine reinsman, Nathan Dawson, provided the individual highlight at the Albion Park Harness Racing Club’s meeting at ‘The Creek’ on Saturday night.
The 24-year-old former Lowood State High School student drove three winners, two of which he predicted via a Racing Queensland video interview after nailing the third event behind the Donny Smith trained, Invite Only.
“She (Invite Only) went real well last start, going 1:56.1 when winning at Redcliffe. I thought she might go close tonight. It’s a great way to start the evening. I think I can win behind her stablemate Always In Command (race six – 8.12pm) and then Secretagent Tycoon a race later (8.42pm),” Dawson said at 6.45pm.
It’s not the first time Dawson has reined a treble at ‘The Creek’. His best is five at a meeting.
“As I’m getting older, I think I’m becoming a better driver. I reckon I’m taking the right steps. You never stop learning in this game. Before I came to the track, I thought I might have a good night. The three winners are a credit to their trainers (Smith and Ryan Veivers.
“Always in Command and Secretagent Tycoon are above average pacers, who have been stringing their wins together. They are both very versatile horses who can do it at both ends. They don’t have many flaws. I’m just grateful the owners and trainers are putting me on,” Dawson said.
Invite Only started from the second line (11) and soon found a nice passage through to sit parked outside pace-maker, Soul Writer.
The gutsy Santanna Blue Chip mare then sat outside the leader throughout the 1,660m mobile and toughed it out for a very gutsy nose victory - after being headed half-way down the home straight by eventual runner-up, My Secret Torque.
Always In Command and Secretagent Tycoon, who were both favourites, worked their way to the front in their respective races and then led their opposition a merry dance from in front. They won easily by 5.1 and 9.8 metres respectively.
“It was a great night, but I still think my career highlight was winning last season’s Group One behind the Aileen Smith trained Jiggle And Jive in the QBRED (2yo fillies) Triad at Albion Park,” said Dawson, who was also runner-up in the 2017 Australasian Junior Drivers’ Championship in Brisbane.
Dawson had seven drives on Saturday. He also finished second in the Open Trot (race nine) behind the Brad Connelly trained, Ivanov.
Meanwhile, Chambers Flat horseman, Ian Gurney, needs to be applauded for his persistence with quality pacer Smooth Showgirl, who won the $14,120 Remembering Brydon Duke Open Pace.
“She’s had a few problems and about five months ago I was ready to retire her. I had her all booked into be served by Rocknroll Heaven.
“We found out she had blocked kidney complications and then I discovered a naturopath who worked wonders with the mare. Now she’s come back from semi-retirement to a quality open pacer,” Gurney said.
“Yes, she will tackle all the big guns over the Summer Carnival. We have to now, after this convincing performance,” he added.
Smooth Showgirl, who has now won 22 of her 92 starts was more than impressive in Saturday’s 2,138m mobile. The daughter of Art Major drew the pole, and led from the outset giving nothing else a chance.
The 8-year-old bay had 1.8 metres to spare over second placed trailer, Watch Pulp Fiction, at the line. She stopped the clock in 2:35.9 (mile rate 1:57.4). Her sectionals were 31.9, 30.3, 27.8, and 27.5.
“She felt strong the entire trip tonight. Ian has done a brilliant job with her,” said driver, Adam Richardson.
And speaking of brilliant jobs, Ron Sallis, Ryan Veivers, and Donny Smith all trained two winners apiece on the 10-race programme.
Wanora-based Sallis conditioned Arthur Lowe (Narissa McMullen) to win first-up at Albion Park in race one, and then nailed the feature trot – the $13,200 Pryde’s Easifeed Handicap, eight races later with favourite, Maybetothemax.
Veivers, who works out of Alberton trained the ‘Tycoons’ to win races four (Ima Top Tycoon) and seven (Secretagent Tycoon) respectively. Taleah McMullen and Dawson did the driving.
It was Secretagent Tycoon’s seventh victory in his last 10 starts – almost as impressive as race five winner, Always In Command, who has now won six on the bounce.
Redcliffe trainer, Donny Smith, said he had never won that many consecutive races in more than 20 years of training.
After five straight wins at Redcliffe and five flops at Albion Park, the promising 8-year-old Always A Virgin gelding finally broke his Albion Park hoodoo with an impressive 5.1m victory from out in front.
“He’s going the best he ever has, and after tonight I still think there’s room for improvement in him yet,” Smith warned of the 14-win pacer.
Smith’s other victory came behind the afore mentioned Invite Only in race three.