By Duane Ranger
If Peter McMullen wins a race at Albion Park on Saturday night, don’t be surprised if he takes a little glimpse towards the heavens.
McMullen, who is affectionately nicknamed ‘Leader Peter’ spoke to Racing Queensland today (Friday) – exactly one year after his grandfather, John ‘Hollywood’ McMullen passed away. He was 81.
Photo credit: Albion Park HRC
“I’m very proud to be his oldest grandson. My grandfather was a man who was ‘before his time’. In many ways he was a pioneer of our sport in Queensland.
“He not only bred, trained, and owned some really nice horses, but he made a huge impact here with the importing of standardbreds and stallions. He got his nickname - ‘Hollywood’ because of his frequent visits to North America during the 1980s,” McMullen said.
The 28-year-old Patrick Estate horseman said he was delighted that his family could do the business on the race-track before he passed away.
“I think he was really proud that three generations of his family were following in his footsteps. I personally got a big thrill out of driving Riverboat Star in the 2009 Inter Dominions on the Gold Coast, because he owned that horse and Dad (John Jnr) trained him,” McMullen said.
He said his grandfather was seldom far from his thoughts, especially today.
“He’s never far from my mind, especially when I have a problem horse and I think what would he do with him or her in the same situation.
“He always had a solution and he was the ’go-to-man’ for problem fixing. Today has sneaked up on us all very quickly. It would be so satisfying to win a race for him either today or tomorrow night,” McMullen said.
His grandfather campaigned good horses such as Viking Reign, The Aircraft, 1984 Queensland Derby winner Alba Wing, and Toliver Bye Bye to name a few.
Mr McMullen had 4,952 starters to the races for 734 winners, 1,261 placings and netted $2,386,973 in purses. He was also an accomplished reinsman nailing 509 winners, 789 placings, and banked $1,551,892.
As a mark of respect to the McMullen family, Racing Queensland this year (July 6) staged the inaugural Group Three $31,000 J. C. McMullen Pace at Albion Park.
It was won by one of the 2019 Interdominion favourites - Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained Self Assured. Kylie Rasmussen did the driving.
As for 'Leader Peter' he has a drive in every race at Albion Park on Saturday night except race two. Three of them will be for his wife, Chantal Turpin.
Greg The Great (R8) is probably my best chance, but in saying that I haven’t got too many bad drives. Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if any of them won, but they will all need a bit of luck in the running.
“If I can get some of that and with my grandfather watching over me, then it could be a good night at the office,” McMullen said.
McMullen’s seven drives (with trainer, draw, odds, and his comments) are:
Race 1: The Ron Sallis trained ELMS CREEK (10) $31. “He was on his worst behaviour last week, but the start before he won really well from a good trip. It’s a tough draw this time out, but with the luck he might get some of it because he hits line pretty good.”
Race 3: The Richard Hutchinson trained RECIPE FOR DREAMING (8) $5. “He’s drawn one on the second line, which is dicey, because we will be relying on the one horse to lead and then bring us into the race. It’s a bit tricky really because he doesn’t possess a lot of gate speed, and I don’t want to see him get shuffled back. We need the one to lead.”
Race 4: The Chantal Turpin trained JANIES GOT A GUN (9) $17. “Bettor’s Delight mare who went okay first-up since July 27. She didn’t disgrace herself. Her splits were okay, and if she can get a nice sit in transit then she will be hitting the line well.”
Race 5: The Chantal Turpin trained MATTGREGOR (4) $6. “He steps up in grade a little bit here, but he is a class horse, who should be able to get nice sit. He ran a super race last start – the best of his current campaign. If he gets that nice run, he will be hard to beat.”
Race 6: The Ron Sallis trained RANFURLY RULZ (3) $8. “I haven’t driven him for a while, but his form reads well, and from the nice draw he should land a nice spot and run a nice race again.”
Race 7: The Chantal Turpin trained FEEL THE REIGN (7) $11. “Seven is a tough hole and he’s been given no respite from the handicapper. He went his personal best time last week when they went a 1:52.2 mile rate. If he can navigate the bad draw, he’s a real chance here.”
Race 8: The Graham Dwyer trained GREG THE GREAT (3) $3.20 favourite. “Trotters can be a little bit hard to get a line on and I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself but he’s definitely an each-way chance here. He has had four seconds after his win five starts back. He is racing super and this is not an overly strong field. If he can put everything together then he should go close.”