1. Home
  2. News & Guides
  3. September 2020
  4. Our Uncle Sam recaptures winning form

Our Uncle Sam recaptures winning form

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

 

THE GOOD

Our Uncle Sam may have had a lean campaign compared to previous years, but Chris Frisby trained pacer was back in form at Redcliffe on Saturday night.

With seven starts on his northern campaign without success, Sam bounced back in style with his latest victory, the 21st of his career.

Redcliffe has been a happy hunting ground for the gelding, winning two of his three starts at The Triangle - the other victory in the 2018 Garrard’s Patrons Purse.

A dual Group 1 winner, Our Uncle Sam has competed at the highest level over the past few seasons and could have even more stakes in the bank if not clashing with some of the best pacers along the way.

Amazingly, Our Uncle Sam has been the runner-up in two Hunter Cups, the Len Smith Mile, the Shepparton Cup, and the Shirley Turnbull Memorial across a 14-month period.

The difference equates to $720,000 in stakes.

Saturday night’s win was a strong effort, working wide off the track to score in a sharp 1.55.8 rate over the Redcliffe 1,780-metre distance.

With the track playing slower following the recent resurfacing, it was a particularly sharp effort with the win being the first of four winners on the night for driver Shane Graham.

The Graham/Frisby combination completed a ‘book-end’ claiming the opener with Our Uncle Sam and then closing out the night with the win of Uncle Jord.

Frisby may have been ready to head home, but with Sam back in form and the weather much warmer than the snowy conditions in Bathurst over the weekend, the working holiday may need to be extended.

Races

1

Redcliffe | Redcliffe Peninsula Harness Racing & Sporting Club | 6:37 PM

TAB OPEN PACE

THE BAD

It was reported out of Tasmania in the past week that the ‘King of The Creek’ – Destreos – has been retired.

He may have seen out his career in the Apple Isle, however he holds a special place in Queensland harness racing history, as the most winningest horse ever at Albion Park.

Prepared throughout much of his career by Ken Rattray and owned by his partner Sally Stingel, Dexter as he was affectionately known, secured 73 wins at Queensland’s harness racing Headquarters, Albion Park.

Destreos retired following an amazing 486 race starts, an Australasian record.

Starting his career in New Zealand on January 27 2006, the gelding arrived in Australia in 2008, having his first Queensland outing in the Patrons Purse when trailing in the field behind Be Diligent.

It did not take long for him to find success, scoring at his third start in the Sunshine State, successful at Gold Coast.

Destreos-1200x620.jpgThe first of those 73 Albion Park victories came on September 23 2008, when leading all the way over the 2,138-metre distance.

Competing in the 2009 Inter Dominion Series hosted by Queensland, his biggest victory came when securing the 2012 Group 3 Be Good Johnny Sprint, running what was then a very sharp 1.52.9 mile rate.

The fastest time Destreos was able to record in his career came in 2015 - as a twelve-year-old - leading all the way to stop the clock in a 1.51.9 rate.

Despite many drivers having success aboard Destreos, it was Kelli Dawson that had a real affinity with the gelding.

Kelli drove Dexter on 253 occasions, securing 57 wins and 74 placings.

While he may not have been a champion, Destreos had all the characteristics of a champion and a longevity that will never be matched.

Enjoy the paddock Dexter, you have earnt it.

 

THE MILESTONE

Despite the racing season continuing through to the end of the calendar year, the premierships have been decided.

The J.D. Watts Awards are presented to the leading trainer and the leading driver for the season by Harness Racing Australia and were officially announced in the past week.

Once again, Queensland’s leading trainer Grant Dixon has claimed top honours nationwide, securing the 2019/20 Australian Trainer of the Year Title.

With 290 wins across the country for the season, the win made it successive titles for Dixon.

Amazingly, this was the eighth J.D. Watts training win for the Tamborine-based horseman.

Working large numbers of horses, the Dixon operation is a well-oiled machine and Grant as always is quick to point out the efforts of his wife Trista and her contribution to the stable.

Likewise, his many loyal stable staff and clients that make the team what it is.

Highlights for the season include campaigning Colt Thirty One in New Zealand for the Inter Dominion Series, along with his Queensland Cup victory soon after returning from the Shaky Isles.

Triad victories with Jasper, Fond Memories and Eternal Promise headlined the stable highlights for the fairer sex.

Meanwhile, Governor Jujon was the standout performer, with the star colt making the finals of both New South Wales and Victoria Derbies, as well as winning the South East Derby at Albion Park, and claiming the 3YO Triad Final.

Dan-Costello-2020-06-10-23-08-11-Governor-Jujon-2.jpg

THE WILDCARD

Shane Graham is making up for lost time in the sulky, with the one-time leading reinsman in Australia landing winners at every meeting in Queensland the past week.

The week started and ended in the same fashion, with Graham winning the first race of the week aboard Motu Amethyst for trainer Mark Dux, and the last aboard Uncle Jord for Chris Frisby.

Across the five meetings for the week, Graham was able to steer home eleven winners, working into the week strongly.

After single wins on Tuesday and Wednesday, Thursday saw a double and Friday a treble.

The biggest stage - the Saturday Metro meeting - saw Graham’s skills rise to the fore, scoring a quartet of wins.

The Saturday night winners were Our Uncle Sam and Uncle Jord for Chris Frisby, Johnny White for Cristina Monte, and Hurricane Roy for Vicki Rasmussen.

Saturday night’s four wins follow up from a metro double the week prior, scoring in a horse that is yet to taste defeat in Queensland - One Change.

The primary driver for the Vicki Rasmussen stable, Shane has been able to secure the drive on a trio of top-class performers, including Ashley Locaz and One Change.

Rounding out the trio is Turn It Up, a pacer that has yet to make it to the races here in Queensland.

A winner of nine from twelve, Turn It Up has trialled impressively on two occasions and when he does step out, he will attract plenty of interest.

Formerly prepared in New Zealand by the All Stars, the gelding was last seen at the races in June of 2019 when claiming the Emerald on Jewels Day, his third Group 1 Victory.

With this type of firepower at his disposal, Shane Graham looks set to feature prominently this season.

 

THIS WEEK

The Albion Park track resurfacing has stretched out a little, however the completed works will be highly beneficial in the long term.

This has necessitated some further meeting changes this week, with Redcliffe able to step up and host the transferred meetings.

Redcliffe will host meetings from Tuesday through to Friday inclusive, with the metro meeting scheduled for Saturday October 3 - the likely return to racing at Albion Park.

These changes over successive Fridays will see the programmed Pot Of Gold Series pushed back, with heats to start on Friday October 9 and the $10,900 Final the following Friday.

Tomorrow’s Redcliffe meeting will feature a 10-race card, with race two shaping as a strong mobile trotting event over the 1,780 metres.