Catch up on the week’s harness racing action in our weekly review, thanks to Darren Clayton.
With just a small team in work at any one time, trainer Richard Hutchinson had a winning end to seven straight days of harness action in Queensland with a pair of victories at Albion Park across Friday and Saturday.
Taking three horses to the track on Friday, Hutchinson was able to land a winner and a third placing and backed that up with one winner from his two starters on Saturday night.
Shez Got Bling was the first runner onto the track on Friday and was asked to tackle the 2138-metre journey for just the third time in 28 Albion Park outings after the race distance was altered on raceday resulting from the recently completed resurfacing works.
With the perfect trail on the back of the race favourite Soho Casablanca, Pete McMullen angled the mare into the passing lane and had the momentum and speed to pull clear for a winning margin of just under eight metres.
Shez Got Bling has been the star performer of the Hutchinson stable this season, claiming seven wins for the term with McMullen taking the drive in six of those victories, Pete’s sister Narissa at the helm for the other win.
The other two runners for the day for Hutchinson were Recipe For Dreaming that finished unplaced and Colonel Joy that was able to snare third placing behind the in-form Speak With Sam.
On Saturday night, Hutchinson presented two runners - both trotters - with Kingdom Come and Spiders Devil contesting the same race.
While Spiders Devil found the step-up in grade too steep, Kingdom Come was the recipient of a perfectly timed Lachie Manzelmann drive to arrive in the last stride for victory.
Safely into gait from his 30-metre handicap, Manzelmann had Kingdom Come against the pegs and securing an economical trip as One Night Out was setting the tempo.
Peeling wider as the small field swung the final turn, Manzelmann was hard at work trying to get the best out of the veteran gelding.
Responding to the urgings, Kingdom Come chased hard and arrived in the last strides to claim a half-head victory over Father Christmas with Justabitnoisy a neck away back in third placing.
It was the third win this season for the eleven-year-old Kingdom Come, with Manzelmann in the seat at all three victories.
The win by Kingdom Come was the 18th training success this season for Hutchinson and while his career best return of 42 wins in the extended 2019-20 season sits as the benchmark, he requires just one more win to equal his 2018/19 season of 19 wins.
With Shez Got Bling, Kingdom Come and Runfortheroses all hitting winning form and boasting a win in their past two starts, Hutchinson looks set to add to his 2021 tally.
Veteran pacer Maywyns Best has run his last race, with connections deciding the time is right for his racing career to end and the next chapter to begin.
Succumbing to the aches and pain of age and following surgery to remove bone chips, ‘Bestie’ as he was affectionately known, leaves a big void in the Graham Dwyer stable.
The 11-year-old retires with 32 wins and 41 placings from his 191 starts and takes a lifetime PB mile of 1.51.0, claimed when leading throughout at Albion Park in June 2020.
Trained by Graham Dwyer in 164 of his 191 career outings, it was Pete McMullen that was able to get the optimum performance out of Bestie on raceday.
Partnering Maywyns Best to eight wins in his last 14 months of racing, his top-five quickest victories have all been with McMullen in the sulky and displaying a zest that belied his age, three of those speed wins were this season.
Dwyer and his Kingslodge Pacing team will miss having Maywns Best in the stable, a pacer that was able to bank close to $125,000 in stakes following him being claimed by connections in March 2019 to return for his second stint in the Dwyer barn.
Just as a rainbow follows a storm, the Kingslodge team have continued their tremendous season and Dwyer was able to land his 500th training winner last week when a relative newcomer to the stable, Onetwo Threecheese was successful at Redcliffe.
Daring to dream of churning out a century of winners in the season, Dwyer currently sits on 82 wins for the term following another successful week with winners at four of seven meetings, even after having no runners on two of those days.
Always on the lookout for new horses to join the Kingslodge team and with son Layne edging closer to gaining his race driving licence, Bestie may be gone, but the best may yet be to come.
It took 70 race starts to get there, but the patience displayed by connections with Valkyrie Hanover has been repaid after the mare claimed her first race victory.
Placed at her previous five starts in succession, the five-year-old daughter of Mr Feelgood had her moment of glory at Redcliffe last Wednesday night.
Coming up short on 69 previous occasions, the mare proved the adage that there is a race for every horse a correct one, claiming the maiden breaking win.
Owned on lease by her trainer Lacey Hinze, the first win was sweetened with the QBRED first win bonus adding another $12,000 to the winning stakes claimed in the victory.
After starting her early education in Sydney, Valkyrie Hanover had her first race start as a three-year-old for Lacey’s father Warren Hinze at Albion Park on June 27, 2019 when finishing fifth.
After a further four unplaced returns for Warren, Valkyrie Hanover was transferred to the stable of Lacey Hinze where she has been ever since.
Seemingly having her chance on multiple occasions, she seemed to find ways to get beaten, with six different drivers all trying to elicit the best from her on race day.
Ultimately it was Lachie Manzelmann who had been in the bike at her previous eight starts that was able to capitalise with the elusive maiden-breaking win.
Pouncing on the lead soon after the start, it was a perfectly judged tempo by Manzelmann allowing Valkyrie Hanover to lead from barrier to box.
Pulling clear in the home stretch, the mare had over eight metres to spare on her nearest rival to claim the maiden breaking victory.
Leap To Fame may have pushed his case for the title of Queensland’s best two-year-old back on September 25, however the runner-up from that race may have something to say about it.
While Leap To Fame ventured to Sydney for a tilt at the New South Wales Breeders Challenge, Teddy Disco reminded everyone of his claim to the two-year-old title with a strong Redcliffe victory.
Stepping out beyond the sprint trip for the first time, the Shawn Grimsey-trained colt was clinical in accounting for older rivals with an all the way win over the 2040-metre trip last Tuesday.
Taking his record to five wins in eight starts with the victory and putting himself within a whisker of breaking the $100,000 stakes barrier in his first racing season, Teddy Disco kept his Redcliffe record faultless at four wins in four attempts.
Further pushing his claim for the 2YO of the Year title, Teddy Disco shaved a tenth of a second off the age record for the 2040-metre distance on the Redcliffe track.
The previous record was held by My Ultimate Star who set the mark in August of 2019, eclipsing a mark that had stood for almost 16 years.
That mark was held by Penny Veejay at 2.01.6 before My Ultimate Star lowered it to 1.59.7, with Teddy Disco now the holder at 1.59.6.
Electing to bypass a Sydney trip and the New South Wales Breeders Challenge, Teddy Disco will head to the Queensland Summer Carnival full of confidence.
After seven straight days of pacing action in Queensland, Monday will provide a race-free day before the action heats up once again.
Following last week’s altered schedule owing to the Albion Park track rehabilitation, The Creek will kick off six straight days of Queensland action on Tuesday.
Along with Tuesday afternoon’s eight race card, the Breakfast Creek oval will be the scene of racing on Friday afternoon to complement the Saturday night metropolitan fixture.
The boosted stakes events are proving popular on the metro programme and this week it will be a qualifying pace over the flying 1660 metres that will offer the $20,000 prizemoney.
Redcliffe will host racing on Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon and Marburg will round out the week.
Always a great afternoon of country racing, Sunday afternoon at Marburg will be the scene of the sixth meeting for the week.