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Gee Up Neddy looks to defy history in DJA Final

Catch up on the week’s harness racing action in our weekly review, thanks to Darren Clayton.

 

THE GOOD

Queensland’s signature event for square gaiters - the Darrell Alexander Memorial - will be run this coming Saturday night; with the 14 finalists decided after six heats.

There were five winners of the six heats - Our Overanova, BD Khaosan, Musculus and Majestic Simon, with Gee Up Neddy the only finalist to claim victory in both heats he contested.

However, if Neddy is to claim victory in the Group 2 Final, he will need to overcome history.

The 2020 edition will be the 14th running of the DJA and in the previous 13 renewals, no trotter has been able to win both heat rounds and the Final.

But this year has been a year like no other in so many ways, so will this be the year that a trotter can sweep the series?

Gee Up Neddy has certainly found form at the right time to make it a reality, and from the 10-metre handicap combined with his great manners, has the chance to re-write history.

In in the fifth heat on Saturday night, Gee Up Neddy was safely away to settle closer to the rear as Godofthunder moved up outside the leader Im The Commando to ensure an even tempo throughout.

BD Khaosan had the one-by- one trail and looked poised to strike as the field swung for home, however, Gee Up Neddy kept coming down the outside to claim victory by a half-neck.

That pair had broken away with the third placed Havana Magic a further 14 metres astern.

Owner, trainer, and driver Hayden Barnes will be hoping that he can go one better than the 2019 Final.

In last year’s series, Gee Up Neddy was a narrow 2nd in the Final after looming up strongly, only to be grabbed in the closing strides along the passing lane behind Wee Man Trouble.

Versatility could be the key to victory in 2020, with Gee Up Neddy possessing that attribute.

Clean manners from the tapes along with the ability to work or be saved for a closing sprint will hold the nine-year-old in good stead.

Back in August, Barnes listed his season highlight as bringing up his 400th career victory aboard Gee Up Neddy.

That statement may be up for debate later this Saturday night if Barnes can become the first to sweep the DJA Series.

If by some bad luck Gee Up Neddy is runner-up again, there is probably only one horse that Hayden hopes can beat him home - Needabacardi.

To be driven by his brother Brendan, the chestnut has been runner-up in both rounds of heats.

Trained by Jack Butler, listed as a part owner - Hayden Barnes, it would certainly be a season highlight.


THE BAD
American politician Frank A. Clark once quipped “It’s hard to detect good luck — it looks so much like something you’ve earned.”

That is a statement that certainly would resonate with owner Mick Andreadis.

Owning horses in several states spread across various trainers, Andreadis has certainly had his resilience tested, and here in Queensland, the trotter I Asked Nicely is one such test.

Starting just nine times since arriving in Brisbane with trainer Travis Mackay back in March, the eight-year-old has won two races.

Yet such are his problems, he has trialled on 15 occasions in that same period under enforced embargos to correct his manners.

Another horse owned by Andreadis is Major Mucha, a horse that has been plagued by bad luck in landing a good barrier in recent months.

Joining the Mackay stable back in July, the four-year-old Art Major gelding has started on 20 occasions.

Heading into his latest assignment, Major Mucha had started from gate 4 or wider in 17 successive starts.

From gate one on Saturday, he made his own luck when leading throughout to claim victory with Dannielle Veivers taking the reins.

Luck may be turning for Andreadis, with another of his pacers scoring at Mildura on Thursday.

Laser Major - now a 10-year-old - was successful in the opening race, ending a win drought that had extended back to 2016 and over 50 race starts.

With that sort of drought, it is fair to say that any luck has certainly been earnt.

 

THE MILESTONE

There were three age track records at Marburg on Sunday, with the warm weather and settling track proving ideal for fast times.

The first of those records came in the opening event of the day when the Peter Greig-trained Straytothepoolroom was successful.

Marburg does not tend to have a great deal of two-year-old events on their programmes, however on Sunday a mixed age event was the catalyst of the new record.

Driven by Angus Garrard, the Cammibest gelding was put on the front-end early and once in control, held on to take the victory and surpass a record that has stood since 2008.

Maywyn Gold, trained and driven by Shane Sanderson, has held the record for 12 years, with the win of Straytothepoolroom taking 0.9 seconds off the old mark.

Two weeks ago, Voodoo Fella provided Jordan Topping with her first victory as a driver and with his latest victory, Jordan can also boast the three-year-old colts and geldings record.

Twice within a month this record has been bettered - Major Fernco setting a new mark on October 25, with Voodoo Fella eclipsing that mark with his victory at the weekend.

Wide in the closing stages, it was a well-timed drive by Topping, arriving to claim a half-head margin and set a record of 1.58.4 with the win.

It also provided the Russell family with a quinella - David training the winner with son Dan training the runner-up - Abercrombie Tab.

The third and final record was the victory of Gina Tarantella, setting a new benchmark for the aged mares of 1.57.8, taking 0.3 seconds off the previous mark held by Ale Ale Kai.

 

THE WILDCARD

Gina Tarantella was having her first start for Jonah Hutchinson after joining his stables from New South Wales.

The four-year-old Million Dollar Cam mare arrived in Queensland after 20 starts that had failed to net a return down south.

After a sound trial at Menangle in mid-October, she was on the move North where Hutchinson opted to send her straight to the races on Sunday at Marburg - without a further trial.

Powering out of the pack from the start, Hutchinson had the mare freewheeling in front, running the opening splits in close to even time with identical 30.1 second quarters.

Dialling it up down the back, Gina Tarantella put up a big margin on her rivals when running through the third split in 28.3 seconds.

With the race shot to bits, Hutchinson had not moved on the mare, cruising home in 29.8 seconds for the last 400 metres, setting the 1.57.8 mile-rate for the 1850-metre trip and establishing a new aged mare track record.

In the demolition process, the winning margin could likely be a new record for the Marburg track - the 73.2 metre margin back to second also close to a Queensland record.

Searching through mountains of results, the victory could possibly be the second biggest in Queensland behind the 77-metre debut win of Viking Reign back in 1987.

Stablemates Greg The Great and Archilles - trained by Graham Dwyer - both won races by 55.3 metres last season but hitting into 70+ metres looks rarefied air.

That is not the only big win in recent weeks for the Hutchinson stable, with the arrival of some new horses to the barn bringing some good success.

Rousey claimed victory by 51.7 metres at her first outing for the stable, the mare remaining undefeated in Queensland after four starts.

With the manner of the win by Gina Tarantella, Jonah Hutchinson and connections could have some fun times ahead.

THIS WEEK

The TAB Queensland Harness Racing Summer Carnival officially starts on Saturday at Albion Park with the night jam-packed with feature racing.

Headlining the on-track excitement is the Group 3 Be Good Johnny Sprint where Colt Thirty One and Turn It Up look set to do battle.

After two rounds of heats, the Darrel Alexander Memorial Trot at Group 2 level will see a capacity field of square gaiters look to secure Queensland’s biggest trotting event.

QBRED three-year-olds are set to do battle, with a pair of Group 3 races - for the colts and geldings and for the fillies - in the new QBRED for Life race to be conducted at 2138 metres.

Support races on the card include the APHRC Members Cup, the Changeover Queen of the Creek for mares and a two-year-old feature.

The racing week will include the regular schedule of Tuesday through Saturday, with Albion Park on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday along with Redcliffe hosting Wednesday and Thursday.

Sunday will see grass track action from Kilcoy where three races will be conducted alongside the gallops meeting at the track known as Moonee Valley of the North.