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Duane Ranger's Weekend Harness Review

By Duane Ranger

Australia’s leading trainer, Grant Dixon, will see two of his weekend winners race abroad in December – one permanently and the other temporarily.

Dixon and his wife Trista, who are expecting their third child any day now, won two races within the space of 24 hours in Victoria and Queensland on Friday and Saturday nights.

Queensland Horse-of-the-Year, Colt Thirty One confirmed his trip to the 2019 Inter Dominion Championship at Auckland’s Alexandra Park, with a solid 6.2 metre win as favourite in the Group Three $30,000 Popular Alm Free-For-All at Tabcorp Park Melton.

Then on Saturday Dixon trained and drove 6-year-old Art Major gelding, and favourite, Makoa, to win the ninth event at Albion Park – the $13,000 Pacers And Chasers Band Five Pace.

Makoa has now won 14 of his 75 starts (five at ‘The Creek’) and has been sold to the United States.

“He’s been a consistent pacer and finally broke through for us. He deserved his win tonight after a lot of placings. He has been sold to the USA and will do his future racing up there,” Dixon said.

Dixon never drove either Colt Thirty One or Tennyson Bromac in Friday’s Free-For-All at Melton. John Caldow did the steering on the former, while Clinton Welsh drove the latter into fifth place.

Colt Thirty One drew nine (of nine) in the 2,240m mobile and landed in the one-one early, before being left parked at the 1400.

The Mach Three entire then led at the bell and then simply ran his opposition off their feet stopping the clock in 2:41.7 (mile rate 1:56.1). His sectionals were 30.1, 30.7, 26.9, and 27.4.

The 5-year-old has now won 34 of his 51 starts and almost $800,000 in stakes.

Owners and breeders, Kevin and Kay Seymour were delighted that their pride and joy had bounced back to the winner’s circle after uncharacteristically breaking six days earlier and losing all chance on the same track in the Group Two $75,000 Four And Five-Year-Old Championship.

“This was a big test for him. It ultimately decided whether or not he would go to Auckland for the Inter Dominion, and he passed with flying colours. He will now leave at the end of next week and stay at John Green’s stable at Ardmore in South Auckland,” Seymour (Kevin) said.

The Inter Dominion Championship starts on Friday November 29. The second heat is Tuesday December 3, the third heat Friday December 6, with the Group One $500,000 Grand Final on Saturday December 14.

Seymour believed Colt Thirty One would be competitive and the right-handed (clockwise) way around wouldn’t bother him.

“If you see what Cruz Bromac has done this week winning the New Zealand Cup and placing in the NZ Free-For-All three days later, well he (Colt Thirty One) beat Cruz Bromac in the Victoria Cup last month. We finished third and he was second.

“In saying that Kay and I would be just proud to see him make the grand final. I know he’s good enough. Saturday’s win is now likely to be his last run before the first heat. We will be there cheering him on,” Seymour said.

“Grant will have him spot on for the Series. The track and the four races within a fortnight shouldn’t be a problem. He’s a very tough horse and is getting stronger with each race,” he added.

It will be the Seymours’ first Inter Dominion runner since Mr Feelgood empathically won the 2009 Grand Final on the Gold Coast.

And while the Seymours’ main focus will be on watching Colt Thirty One later this month, he hasn’t forgotten about the trainers in Queensland.

The generous couple have has sponsored the races at Albion Park this Saturday by night providing a $200 Coles vouchers for every trainer that goes around.

Meanwhile, the feature pacing event at Albion Park on Saturday night – the $14,700 Remembering ‘Speed King’ Open, was won by $19 outsider, Clintal Do.

The son of Dawn Of A New Day lobbed out of the one-one to beat Mach Alert by half a head. It was 25th win in 66 starts and his 19th in the city. He has now amassed $212,180 for the O’Reilly family that bred and own him.

Clintal Do is trained by Richard March at Warwick. His son, and driver Dayl had this to say about the 6-year-old gelding:

“We got a really good run and Fame Assured put us in a nice position. I pulled him out three-wide on the turn and he did the rest. He’s certainly the best horse that we have had anything to do with.”

Clintal Do paced the 2,138m mobile in 2:35.2 (mile rate 1:56.8) with 31, 30.8, 27.8 and 28.5 sectionals.

The feature trot – the $13,200 JLLTrotters Discretionary Handicap was won by the Hayden Barnes trained favourite, Gee Up Neddy.

The Raffaello Armbrosio gelding started brilliantly from his 10m handicap and found himself in front around the first bend. From then on Barnes was given an armchair ride, leading all the way to easily win by 2.8 metres.

Gee Up Neddy trotted the 2,138m stand in 2:44.5 (mile rate 2:03.2). His sectionals were 31.5, 31.9, 28.6 and 28.6.

“He did that very easy tonight. He hasn’t raced for a couple of weeks so he was fresh coming into the race and he gave me an easy drive. He doesn’t like the whip, so he did this all by himself.

“He’s always been a nice trotter and is really starting to show what he is capable of. As long as he doesn’t get handicapped out of it, he should be one of our better trotters over the Summer Carnival, “Barnes said.

Gee Up Neddy is also owned by Barnes. He has now won 13 of his 82 starts, placed17 times and banked $115,897 in a career spanning back to his debut win at Motukarara (Canterbury) in New Zealand on December 29, 2013.

The 9-year-old bay was exported to Australia on June 1 last year.