1. Home
  2. News & Guides
  3. September 2020
  4. The Aussie Battler hitting the heights

The Aussie Battler hitting the heights

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

 

THE GOOD

Fresh off claiming his most successful season as a trainer, Graham Dwyer was again in the winner’s circle at the weekend with victories at Albion Park and Marburg.

It was the trainer’s favourite horse in Maywyns Best again proving why he is the stable star.

Maywyns Best was successful in Saturday evening’s sixth event, when sent forward from gate seven over 1660 metres to lead throughout in scoring a three-and-a-half metre victory in a slick 1.52.0 mile rate.

In super form, the rising eleven-year-old has scored five wins and placed on a further six occasions from his past fifteen starts.

Included in the wins is a new career benchmark of 1.51.1, with Pete McMullen in the sulky at each start through this streak.

Happy to be referred to as the Aussie Battler, Dwyer has set new personal benchmarks for training wins in the past two seasons.

It is a real family affair at Dwyer’s Kingslodge Pacing Stables, with Graham joined by wife Marty and son Layne, as well as Matthew Greentree and Marty’s mother Sandra also involved.

Maywyns Best might be the current star, but a filly by the name of Shes Miss Devine could well develop into a shining light for the stable.

“She is spelling up at Lunchbox Lodge presently, we really like this filly and think she will be in for a good three-year-old season,” Dwyer said.

Understandably so, with the daughter of Heston Blue Chip claiming a win as well as a runner-up in two Group 1 races.

Grabbed late in the Redcliffe Yearling Sales Series Final when second to Manila Playboy, she was again the bridesmaid in the QBRED Triad Final behind Jasper.

Meanwhile, the trotter Greg The Great tempers the joy that Maywyns Best offers by being a continuing source of frustration.

A winner of 15 races for the Kingslodge team and holder of the Albion Park track record for the mobile 1660 metres, the square gaiter could also be responsible for some extra grey in Graham’s mane.

His high speed and ability have been equally matched over time by gait and confidence issues, however as the recent track record demonstrates, the rising eight-year-old may have turned the corner.

THE BAD

Maywyns Best - or Bestie as he is affectionately known - has been the stable flagbearer over the past 18 months, ably assisted throughout this period by the enigmatic Greg The Great and the ever- consistent Sir Julian.

At one stage being the private trainer for prominent owner Rob Essex, the Kingslodge Team went from enjoying success with a well-bred stable to having just two horses in the barn after Essex opted to move in a different direction.

“We had a winner on the Saturday night and by the Tuesday all of Rob’s horses were gone,” Dwyer said.

“It wasn’t the best time for us, and we were left with just two horses - Sir Julian and Hipstar - and we have been able to rebuild the stable from that to our best ever season in under two years.”

Those career high figures have seen Dwyer prepare 70 winners for the 2019/20 season, eclipsing a previous best of 49 the season prior.

Further testament to the trainer’s ability at both placing and conditioning the team, there has not been any real turnover in stock for the past two years, with the results coming from the same horses in the barn.

Having trained Maywns Best when owned by Essex, the opportunity to purchase the gelding out of a claiming race was too good to knock back.

Despite an injury enforced five months on the sidelines immediately after being claimed, Dwyer and his team have rejuvenated the son of Blissful Hall to see him in career-best form.

“When I claimed him, I set myself a goal in what I wanted him to achieve, and he has been able to do exactly that and a whole lot more,” Dwyer laughs.

Another that Dwyer was hopeful would boost the current statistics was Hipstar, who had shown ability as a two-year-old that included victory in the Consolation of the QBRED Breeders Classic.

Returning in June after close to twelve months on the sidelines, the four-year-old was successful in three of his first six starts back.

Unfortunately, the gelding has suffered a hairline fracture in a rear leg that has curtailed any immediate plans for the son of Auckland Reactor.

While Hipstar may be temporarily derailed, like many other occasions, there is a feelgood story in the next chapter for the Aussie Battler.

All Good Wally, a horse that Dwyer took on as an untried seven-year-old was successful in a heat of the ever-popular Marburg to Albion Park Series on Sunday afternoon.

The gelding was successful for the 11th time in the space of 17 months for owner Alan Boyd.

“Alan had three horses and was trying to sort a few things out,” Dwyer said.

“They were all in the paddock and had never been tried and they have all won races.”

The three horses are All Good Wally, Peggy Stardust and Half Moon Beach.

Sixpenny Red will join her stable-mate in the Marburg to Albion Final, having finished second in her heat, and the four-year-old mare is another interesting chapter in the Kingslodge Pacing Stables story.

Formerly owned and trained by John Cremin, the mare was gifted to Matthew Greentree - one of the Kingslodge team - as a learning horse as he furthers his career in harness racing.

“It was a great deed by ‘Cremmo’ to give this mare to Matty and not only that, it is the first horse he has owned,” Dwyer said.

It didn’t take long to score victory with the mare either, with Sixpenny Red successful on August 23 at Redcliffe when driven by Pete McMullen.

With success continuing to flow, Dwyer knows that he needs a turnover of stock to continue his upward spiral.

Square-gaiter Doug has recently joined the team and Little Change, a pacer formerly prepared by Rickie Alchin is ‘on-trial’ to hopefully continue his career in Queensland.

The four-year-old Doug has already secured the $2,000 first win bonus for trotters after securing their first Queensland victory, and Dwyer believes he will more than pay his way, recovering from a hoof abscess to line up on Tuesday at Albion Park.

He may be the Aussie Battler, but the foundations of a successful story are being cemented by Graham Dwyer.

 

THE MILESTONE

Trainer Jack Butler chalked up his 1,000th career winner on Friday night at Albion Park courtesy of a dominant performance by Handsome Hero.

In a real family affair, the gelding was driven by Butler’s daughter Chloe, who was content to sit outside the leader before putting the power on down the back stretch and pulling clear for a tough win.

Formerly hailing from Bathurst, Butler has been a regular on the Queensland Premiership boards since relocating with his family at the start of 2015.

Proving how good the move has been for the Butler family, over half of those 1,000 wins have been achieved in the five-and-a-half years they have been located at Logan Village, south-west of Brisbane.

In each full season that Jack has been based in the Sunshine State, he has been able to reach 100 wins for the term.

The high came with 119 winners in the 2016/17 season, while the 117 winners prepared from his stables in the 2018/19 campaign saw Butler finish second on the State Premiership to Grant Dixon.

Steadily building the quality of his team in recent years, the addition of Hectorjayjay has been a huge boost in 2020, with the star pacer not far away from a return from his most recent setback.

THE WILDCARD

He may have been sporting a hair-cut that is better suited to an NRL player, but that has not stopped Ashley Locaz posting his first Albion Park victory.

Crossing the Tasman to join the stables of Vicki Rasmussen, the Bettors Delight gelding showed the benefit of his first-up placing when scoring a dominant victory over the 2,138-metre trip on Saturday night.

Arriving freshly shaven with what could best be described as a questionable choice of trims, the 2019 Inter Dominion Finalist has shown good improvement through a pair of trials into two race starts.

On Saturday night, the five-year-old was too strong when facing the breeze before putting the field to the sword in claiming a strong win, rating 1.54.1 for the middle-distance trip.

The talented gelding should take further improvement from the victory, the 11th of his career.

Passing $300,000 in stake-earnings following the victory, Ashley Locaz is bred on the most potent cross of current times, being by Bettors Delight out of a Christian Cullen mare.

This same cross has now produced 19 winners of $300,000 or more and includes the likes of Lazarus, Chicago Bull, Thefixer, Self Assured, Belle Of Montana and recent Albion Park winner Amazing Dream.

THIS WEEK

Track resurfacing works have commenced this week at both Redcliffe and Marburg, meaning this week’s racing schedule will be centred on Albion Park.

Race meetings will be held at ‘The Creek’ throughout the week, taking place on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

As a result of the changes, there will be no Wednesday night meeting conducted in Queensland this week.

The Thursday programme for Albion Park will be replicate Redcliffe’s, while trials will be held Tuesday, Thursday and Friday in conjunction with the race meetings.

Saturday night’s meet will host the final of the latest Marburg to Albion Park Series, with the first two placings in the five heats held at Marburg on Sunday progressing to the $10,900 Final.

Allstar Sea for trainer/driver Ben Battle was the fastest heat winner, with trainers Richard Hutchinson and Graham Dwyer to be dually represented in the Final after both claimed a win and a second placing.