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Colt Thirty One is back and firing

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

 

THE GOOD

2019 Queensland Horse of the Year, Colt Thirty One, has returned from a brief spell in fine fettle to press his credentials for successive titles.

In two runs back this preparation, the Grant Dixon-trained entire has shown his versatility to overcome gate seven on successive occasions; the first in a tough fighting win, the second in a swooping finish.

Resuming over the 2,138-metre distance on September 12, Dixon sent his star pupil to sit outside the leader, Northview Hustler, where he was able to show plenty of grit in scoring victory by a one-metre margin.

Second-up on Saturday night in the Remembering Son Of Pearl Pace, the barrier draw was again unkind, landing the outside front-line gate, this time over the 1,660-metre trip.

As the field was released, Dixon stayed out of the early pace battle that ensued, easing ‘Chester’ to find position in the running line.

With Justalittle Torque repelling Maywyns Best through the first quarter, the clock was stopped in a sizzling 26.5 seconds.

That drew an early move from Ashley Locaz, working forward from the 1100-metre mark, expending plenty of petrol in working forward.

The move saw Maywyns Best flagged on to take control, with Ashley Locaz moving to the position outside the leader.

With the speed on, Dixon made his move at the 500-metre mark, pushing Colt Thirty One around the field to loom into the contest strongly.

Balancing up for the stretch drive, the Colt had bullets to fire, arriving for a strong 1.51.2 mile-rate victory, a new career personal best for the five-year-old.

In claiming the 40th win of his career, it was the 35th time that Colt Thirty One has been successful at Albion Park.

This moves the Dixon-trained star into the top 10 for most victories at The Creek, Queensland’s headquarters of harness racing.

Sitting equal with Melton Multimax and the former star mare Happy Haldon on 34 wins heading into Saturday night’s race, the win pushed Chester to 35 and outright ninth on the list.

Another three wins will move Colt Thirty One equal to three of the greatest Queensland trained pacers of any era, and amazingly all three campaigned at the same time.

Be Good Johnny, Cobbity Classic and Blacks A Fake all finished their careers with 38 victories at Albion Park.

Arguably the greatest ever, Blackie missed a cheque just twice in his 50 appearances at headquarters, adding 10 placings to his 38 victories.

Colt Thirty One has made it to 35 wins from 49 outings at The Creek, placed a further 12 times having also missed a top-three finish just twice thus far.

Returning in such dominant fashion, Chester looks set to further his record with successive Horse of the Year titles looking well within his grasp.

 

THE BAD

While track resurfacing works were scheduled to be completed with the transfer of just the Tuesday and Friday meetings at Albion Park, the process involved has seen two further meetings transferred to Redcliffe this week.

The delay has been necessitated by advanced surveying work to be undertaken, and these advanced works will allow accurate track levels to be surveyed and recorded.

Despite the disappointment for the Albion Park Club to lose the Saturday and Tuesday meetings, the long-term benefits are worth the short-term loss.

The transfer represents a great opportunity for Redcliffe to play host to metropolitan racing.

Officially opened just last week, the upgraded facilities were the result of the Club securing a Government grant to complete works that included a new stabling complex and upgrades to the race day facilities for drivers and stewards.

Fresh off the track undergoing maintenance resurfacing in the past fortnight, it bodes well for a top night at The Triangle this Saturday night.

 

THE MILESTONE

It has been a long time between drinks for Deception Bay based trainer Stephen Bunz, yet his perseverance has never waned throughout the season.

In the extended season, Bunz had yet to prepare a winner, not through lack of effort or attempts as he continued to toil away looking for an elusive winner.

That determination was rewarded last Thursday at Redcliffe when Bunz broke the drought to land his first winner for the season when Rayong Princess was successful in the opening event of the day.

In recording her third career victory - the second under Bunz care - the Rob Roy Mattgregor mare also broke a drought of her own.

Races

1

Redcliffe | Redcliffe Peninsula Harness Racing & Sporting Club | 12:10 PM

VALE 'BILL CLARKE' PACE

The last victory the mare recorded came back in April of 2018, driven on that occasion by Adam Richardson.

This time around Paul Diebert took the drive, leading throughout in claiming victory by a half-head margin.

Owned by Bunz in partnership with Matthew Greentree, it was a day to remember for Greentree as he recorded his first double as an owner.

Just thirty minutes after Rayong Princess was successful, Greentree drove Sixpenny Red to victory, a mare he was gifted and is trained by Graham Dwyer.

Coming with a well-timed run, four-year-old mare Sixpenny Red rushed by the leader to claim victory by just over 10 metres, the eighth win of her career.

 

THE WILDCARD

One Change remains unbeaten in Queensland since joining the Vicki Rasmussen stable after another strong performance when successful at Albion Park at his most recent start.

Sitting back as the leader Will The Wizard was out in front in ‘catch me if you can’ tactics, driver Shane Graham allowed One Change to slide up towards the leader.

With a third quarter blitz of 26.9 down the back stretch, Graham continued to edge closer and approaching the home turn, put the power on to take the lead.

Forging clear in the run to the judge, a fast-finishing Bombadier Jujon loomed up, but left his run too late with One Change holding on to claim victory by a neck.

The win equalled the three-year-old track record at Albion Park, matching the mark set just last month by Crunch Time in a 1.51.1 mile.

The previous record of 1.52.1 set by Burnaholeinmypocket had stood since June 2015.

In securing the Ultimate Tools sponsored 3YO event, One Change took his superb record to 12 wins from 18 starts, with the colt sure to be a major player in any feature he contests this year.

Races

THIS WEEK

As a result of Albion Park’s track resurfacing works, Redcliffe will play host to the next eight successive Queensland harness meetings, starting on Tuesday September 22 through to October 1.

This Friday will see heats of the popular Pot Of Gold Series held over the 1780 metre distance.

Those progressing to the Final will compete over the 1,660-metre distance at Albion Park on Friday October 2, with total stakes of $10,860 on offer.

Trainers and owners are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the updated programme and distance amendments that are a result of the Saturday and Tuesday meetings being transferred to Redcliffe.

Of interest in the calendar this Saturday is a 2040-metre event for the square gaiters to be keenly contested.

For horses with no band assessment, it is effectively a qualifier for the trotters and on current numbers should provide a highly competitive event, with the likes of Doug, Skyline, Jeddy R Ya Ready, Aveross Don and Miss Invasion all possible nominations for the event.