By Duane Ranger
Track staff at Redcliffe Paceway should firstly be applauded, and then they need to take a big bow.
The unique 800-metre triangle course has created three track records at its last two Saturday night meetings. The club was given the premier meetings because Albion Park has been closed temporarily for a track upgrade.
There were no meetings at Redcliffe Paceway for 50 days from August 27, but the track really came into its own when Albion Park was closed from October 29.
Albion Park resumes its racing again at ‘The Creek’ on Thursday.
Track manager, Mark Belford, recently oversaw the $300,000 facelift on the unique Paceway track that boasts three bends.
“It’s been a hectic couple of weeks and the staff have done a good job. The track has settled now, and as a result we are seeing some fast times.
“Steve Marriott of Eagle Alliance has done great work on the corners. He has massaged them well and they are not as pronounced as what they used to be,” Belford said.
He said it was the first time the track had been totally upgraded in 14 years.
“The last time it was done it wasn't completed due to material running out. The old surface was clay, and it had a tendency to move.
“We now have the same crusher dust surface as Albion Park. There has been remediation and stabilisation of the existing base, the laying of 100mm crusher dust base, and 20mm of top-dressing to provide our new racing surface,” the 57-year-old said.
On Saturday night the Donny Smith trained and Nathan Dawson driven, Always In Command, rated a 1:54.3 mile rate, bettering the previous 1:54.4 mark set by the Jack Butler trained Sams The Master (Brendan Barnes) seven days earlier.
The new time was set in the $13,000 Band Five, third event.
“I thought if he could get to the front, he could go close to setting a new record, but he had to work hard to get there, yet still set a new mark. I’m so proud of him,” Redcliffe-based Smith said a race after also training Ketut (Matt Elkins) to victory.
Six races later, Queensland’s current Trotter-of-the-Year, Our Overanova and Adam Sanderson, sat parked in the $8,330 NR80-120 Trot, and then beat his own track record of 1:59.6 by 0.1 of a second.
“He’s a master trotter. He did that easy. That’s 57 wins now. Just awesome,” said, Sanderson who also steered the Craig Cross trained Senora Rapido to win race four.
Meanwhile, the individual highlight of the night came from Logan Reserve reinsman, Adam Richardson, who drove a third of the card.
The 30-year-old opened his account behind former Tasmania standardbred, God Sake, in race one. He then repeated the dose behind the $1.55 favourite, Smooth Showgirl in the sixth event. Both pacers are trained by Ian Gurney at Chambers Flat.
Richardson then nailed his hatrick in race eight behind the Cristina Monte trained Im Major Harry.
As well as commenting about each win, Richardson also paid a tribute to the track staff.
“They have definitely done a good job this time around. Mark has done a spectacular job keeping a nice surface, and he has maintained it so well.
“As for my drives, I thought they all raced really well. God Sake’s performance was a nice effort. It was a tough run and he stuck his head out at the right time.
“The other two got left alone in front and I was able to get cheap first halves, which counted when it was time to wind up. They proved too good in the end,” Richardson said.
Queensland’s three leading reinsmen didn’t have the same luck when competing in Tasmania and Victoria.
The McMullen siblings, Peter and Narissa, finished 11th and ninth respectively in the Triple M Australian Drivers Championship at Ladbrokes Park Elwick in Hobart on Saturday night.
Western Australia driver, Gary Hall Junior won the series with two wins and two placings.
McMullen (Peter) had a heavy fall behind favourite, Awayandrideyourself, when the seat fell off his sulky in the third heat.
However, the 2014 inaugural champion recovered well enough to drive in the remaining four heats.
“Peter is okay, but still a bit stiff and sore,” McMullen (Narissa) said.
The final standings were: Gary Hall Junior (WA) 77 points, 1st; Mark Yole (TAS) 63, 2nd; Darby McGuigan (VIC) 60, 3rd; Ryan Warwick 58 (WA), 4th; Todd McCarthy (NSW) 53, 5th; Danielle Hill (SA) 51, 6th=; Kerryann Morris (NSW) 51, 6th=; Ken Rogers (SA) 49, 8th; Peter McMullen (QLD) 47, 9th=; Kerryn Manning (VIC) 47, 9=; Narissa McMullen (QLD) 42, 11; Ricky Duggan (TAS) 28, 12th.
And Grant Dixon, who was a late withdrawal from that seven-race series, finished a lonely 56.6-metre last in the Group Two $75,000 Four and Five-Year-Old Championship at Melton’s Tabcorp Park.
The Dixon trained two-time (and current) Queensland Horse-of-the-Year, Colt Thirty One, uncharacteristically broke at the start and lost all chance.
He is still the second seed, but is paying $21 to win the 2019 Interdominion Grand Final at Auckland’s Alexandra Park on December 14.