Catch up on the week’s harness racing action in our weekly review, thanks to Darren Clayton.
Passionate owner and investor Craig Whiteoak had a successful week with three of his team scoring victories at Albion Park.
It was a Tuesday double at The Creek for Whiteoak with a newcomer to the team, Itz Cherokee Jack joining Its Mr Clooney in the winner’s enclosure.
Both former Kiwi pacers are trained by Chantal Turpin, with Turpin having formed a strong alliance over the past few years, training numerous winners for Whiteoak.
Itz Cherokee Jack was having his first start since crossing the Tasman, with the three-year-old arriving in Queensland the winner of his only race start in June when successful at Ascot Park.
With a pair of smart trials in readiness for his first appearance, the gelding was dealt a blow when landing gate seven over the 2138-metre trip.
With leading driver Pete McMullen at the reins, the pair eased to sit at the rear for the first lap before McMullen made a three-wide move with 1000 metres to travel.
Wide off the track, the son of American Ideal was game, loomed up to put the leader away and then held off a fast-finishing Call Me Diva to claim victory.
The second leg of the double came later in the day when Its Mr Clooney secured his fourth victory since Whiteoak purchased the gelding from the South Island of New Zealand.
Also a winner at his first Australian start after crossing the ditch, Its Mr Clooney has had 12 starts for Turpin, recording four wins, three minors and a pair of show wins at Toowoomba.
After securing the pacing double on Tuesday, Whiteoak rounded out the week when securing victory with his trotting mare Sugarinspice on Friday.
As are many out of the Whiteoak team, the mare is a Kiwi import and like her stablemates on Tuesday, she too was a first-up Australian winner at her first start in Queensland back in August.
Making her fourth appearance on Australian soil on Friday, Sugarinspice was never headed after being sent straight to the front from the mobile and trotting cleanly to claim victory by just under two metres.
The win took the record for the daughter of Majestic Son to two wins from four starts since arriving.
Building up a strong team that also includes the in-form Mister Diamond who claimed Saturday night success in August, the Whiteoak team looks set for a strong finish to the season.
Lockdowns and ongoing restrictions around the COVID-19 pandemic have been an ongoing issue for the southern states and has impacted harness racing.
The changes to the border arrangements have meant Bathurst based trainer Chris Frisby - a regular to the Tweed to campaign his team during the Winter months - has moved across the border into Queensland.
While most of his team has been sent back to Bathurst, Frisby has been working just the two horses out of good friend Mal Charlton’s property.
The form of Our Uncle Sam and Cobbity Castle have ensured that Frisby stays a little longer and delays his return to the Central West of New South Wales.
After battling feet issues and finding a suitable shoe for Our Uncle Sam because of his problems, it appears the battle may have been won by Frisby.
The Group 1 winner has bounced back into strong form and although beaten on Saturday night behind Turn It Up, the run was full of merit in defeat.
Meanwhile Cobbity Castle has been a real find, the six-year-old mare yet to miss a placing in 12 starts in Queensland.
Adding another victory to her tally on Thursday at Redcliffe, the daughter of Aces N Sevens is thriving, her latest victory by a whopping 26.8 metres.
A winner in five of her past six starts, the only defeat in that stretch came when a game third after sitting outside the exciting two-year-old Leap To Fame.
Enjoying the time of working just two horses is proving to be not bad at all for Frisby.
After a momentous week that saw milestone training and driving performances for both Daren and Angus Garrard, the father-son duo were at it again.
Combining with the square gaiter Sir Fahrenheit for victory at Albion Park on Saturday night, the seven-year-old gelding set a new track record for the 2647-metre standing start.
As More Shades Of Gold stepped to the front and set the tempo, Angus Garrard was able to secure the perfect spot in the run, settling Sir Fahrenheit in the one out one back position.
With the leader fired up in front and running even quarters through the first three sections, Garrard played the waiting game as those around him started to feel the pinch of the strong tempo.
Angling wider off the back straight, Sir Fahrenheit responded and exploded away, quickly putting up a winning margin, cruising down to the line for a comfortable 11.7-metre victory over Godofthunder, with Gee Up Needy holding on for third.
The mile-rate of 1.59.7 shaved one-tenth of a second off the previous record, a time that was set back in April 2020.
That previous record was also held by Sir Fahrenheit, achieved when having just his second race start in Australia and overcoming a 20-metre handicap on that occasion.
Garrard has developed a great relationship with Sir Fahrenheit in the past 18 months, having driven the gelding in all eight of his Australian victories.
Not only has he now set the track record twice with the son of Pegasus Spur, but he was also the third leg of a winning treble on Garrard’s first night as a metro driver.
The win also extends the super season for owners Tumby Park, who landed a Group 1 victory at The Creek just last month with their talented two-year-old pacer My Ultimate Levi.
It was a successful week on and off the track for Ben Battle in the past week, with winners over two days at Redcliffe.
Both winners went off at big odds with Brilliant Art winning on Wednesday night at a starting price of $31 and Tulhurst Lover winning on Thursday at $11.
David McKenzie took the drive on both winners, after his association with Bathurst-based owners Kevin and Nathan Hurst led to the mares joining the Battle stable.
The Hursts are no strangers to success in Queensland, with numerous winners heading north to race in the Sunshine State for various trainers over the years.
Brilliant Art has now won six races since being sent to Battle in January, with the latest victory making it successive wins for the daughter of Art Major.
McKenzie has built a strong relationship with the mare, having been in the seat at four of those wins.
At Thursday’s Redcliffe meeting, Tulhurst Lover scored her third win since joining the Battle stable, with the mare starting to find form, those wins coming in her past five starts.
Another mare sent North by the Hursts, Tulhurst Lover has been driven by McKenzie in all three of her Queensland victories.
Battle and his wife Tamara are starting to build on the quality in their team as they approach 12 months since taking over their new property, with the most valuable addition arriving last week.
Taking on a new QBRED, Bailey Mark is the newest addition to the Battle stable.
Bailey Mark Battle was welcomed last week and is the first child for Tamara and Ben, with all in the new family now home, healthy and settling in well.
Monday night at Redcliffe will start seven straight days of harness racing action in Queensland.
The Peninsula Club will host four of the seven with Monday’s fixture complemented by the regular Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon schedule.
The fourth meeting will come through on Sunday when a night meeting will be held.
Albion Park will play host to three meetings for the week, with a 10-race card to be held on Tuesday along with Friday night and Saturday night meetings.
Friday will see the running of the $10,000 QBRED Trotting Finals for three-year-olds and two-year-olds.
Saturday night’s highlight will be the $20,000 2YO event, with the added stake money to a selected race each week, so far proving very successful.