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Darryl Gardiner's sunny outlook for Beach series

19 April 2024

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Prize money


By Jordan Gerrans

The Burnett To The Beach series is one Bundaberg’s Darryl Gardiner has his eyes on annually and the veteran trainer thinks he has a fair chance of adding to his two previous titles.

The 69-year-old claimed one of the inaugural editions of the popular series with Hooded Gem back in June of 2001.

The Gardiner stable already have one heat victory to their name this year with Yule My Hero getting the money at Monto late last month.

The fifth leg of the 2024 series turns to the sand of ‘Bundy’ on Saturday where the multiple premiership-winning trainer has an outstanding record on his home deck. 

Gardiner’s Frisco's Image carries the top weight in Saturday’s Burnett To The Beach series heat over 1212 metres.

The BTTB series is a hotly contested one this year with four different heat winners already: Nine Cigars, Dante Alighieri, Yule My Hero and Kirella Shores.

“Everybody loves this series,” Gardiner said.

“There is an increase in prize money for most of the races in the series and if you can win the Final then there is more prize money again. Everybody is keen on in it in our area.”

Following Saturday’s Bundaberg heat, the series turns to Wondai on Anzac Day before the decider for 2024.

Trevor Miller Next Racing
Kirella Shores

The Burnett to the Beach Final will be contested at Burrandowan Race Club on Saturday May 11 as a Benchmark 60 Handicap over 1175 metres with $20,000 on the line.

To be eligible to compete in the Final, horses must have competed in a minimum of one heat.

For Gardiner, the BTTB was a springboard for Hooded Gem to chase feature glory in South East Queensland a couple of decades ago.

After winning the series Final in 2001, the gelding was eventually transferred into the care of Caloundra trainer Trevor Miller where he competed in black-type events in 2004.

“He won a heat of the series and then ran in a few other races and then won the Final here at Bundaberg,” Gardiner said of Hooded Gem. 

“He was a very handy horse that bloke, he went through to open company up here and we had nowhere to go up here with too much weight.

“He went to the Sunshine Coast and he ran second to Consular in a Caloundra City Summer Cup, which was a big race back in those days.”

Frisco's Image is only a newcomer to the team of Gardiner and the chestnut had his first run for the stable at Thangool last Saturday.

The galloper never looked likely in the Thangool assignment but the stalwart conditioner is hopeful the decision to book experienced rider Kelly Gates will pay dividends back on the sand this Saturday.

Frisco's Image is a six-time career winner but has not won since November of 2022, which came at Mount Perry.

Trainer Darryl Gardiner.

“I hope he can improve,” Gardiner said of Frisco's Image.

“I have only had him for one start after Andrew Mead bred and raced him. He wasn’t a bad little horse but he has just gone off the boil and he has sent him up here to see if I can turn him around.

“I thought he would run a good race at Thangool but he did exactly what he used to do with Andrew for me.

“We are putting an older head on him for Saturday to see if that will make any difference.”

As well as a BTTB heat runner, Gardiner will also have two from his yard start in the Benchmark 60 Handicap over 1380 metres on Saturday.

Blonde's Day Out is resuming from a break while Ethelda has only finished outside the money on one occasion in her last five trips to the races.

“Ethelda is a very honest mare and gives her best every start,” he said.

“She has a good record over 1200 metres and I am keen to see if she can run 1380 metres.

“Blonde's Day Out is fairly effective first-up over 1400 metres.

“This is a harder race for Blonde's Day Out on the sand but she has been in work for 11 weeks and she looks well. She should be good to go.”

Gardiner has wound back his numbers in his stable in recent years after previously being a force on the sand at Bundaberg where he regularly won the club premiership.

A Ladbrokes Battle Of The Bush qualifier will also be run at Bundaberg on Saturday.

The $200,000 Ladbrokes Battle Of The Bush Final will be run on Tatt’s Tiara day at Eagle Farm on June 29.