Queensland racing wrap - May 3

03 May 2021 | Darren Clayton
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Catch up on the week’s harness racing action in our weekly review, thanks to Darren Clayton.

 

THE GOOD

Sometimes racing is more than just about winning the race.

For trainer Graham Dwyer, having Maywyns Best back at the races was enough; the horse that has provided Dwyer and his family so much, did not owe them anything.

Yet Dwyer felt he owed it to his mate - ‘Bestie’ - to do give him another opportunity.

Having already done a wonderful job throughout his career, Dwyer was effectively given an ultimatum following a scan on the leg of Maywyns Best - surgery or retirement.

A bone chip was hampering the gelding and if removed, the prognosis was favourable that he would be able to return to racing.

However, the alternative was a retirement paddock as the issue was beginning to affect the performance of Maywyns Best.

“It was an easy decision to make because it has already been the best ride,” Dwyer said.

Having the surgery to remove the chip proved successful and on Saturday night, the 11-year-old gelding was second-up from a spell and drawn favourably in gate three.

His first-up effort was strong, when only tiring in the concluding stages and with great speed from the barrier, hopes were high that he could run a strong race.

Driven by Pete McMullen, the pair fired out of the machine in a sizzling 26.2 opening split.

Backing it off through the second section, the speed was again raised through the third split of 27.6 seconds before finishing the flying mile with a 27.8-second closing quarter.

Stopping the clock in a 1.51.4 mile at just his second run back from a spell, the return showed just how much zest for racing Maywyns Best still has at age 11.

Scoring his 11th win for the current owners, it was a moment of pure excitement for the group with Dwyer adding “that win shows what sort of character the horse has.”

A tenacity and a will to win have been the trademark of Maywyns Best with Saturday’s victory taking the earnings of the gelding past $100,000 since being claimed for $7,000.

“But it’s not about the money, it’s about when hard work sometimes pays off.”
 

THE BAD

Joni Mitchell once famously stated that don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you got 'til it's gone.

That may just well be the most accurate statement to describe the siring deeds of the American import Hurrikane Kingcole.

Standing his first season in Queensland in 2016, the stallion unfortunately passed away during his fourth stud season in 2019.

During his first season, Cole had 35 live foals, of which 24 are now race winners.

Overall, the stallion has produced 67 foals to have raced with 45 of those having won a race.

On Saturday night, his legacy was strengthened when Cat King Cole was successful in the Australian Pacing Gold, Fillies Gold Bullion Final.

Trained by Darren Weeks and driven by Lady Luck, Kylie Rasmussen, the two-year-old filly demolished her rivals when scoring the easiest of victories in the Group 2 feature.

Despite the wide gate, there was never a concern as Rasmussen took the filly straight to the front where they stayed throughout.

Cruising home in a 27.7-second closing split, the winning margin was officially 29.7 metres as Cat King Cole scored her third career win from just four starts.

Having defeated the same opponents the week prior in the prelude of this race, the daughter of Catwalk Beauty had her strut on, dominating her six rivals.

Looking to have plenty more to offer if required, Cat King Cole will be a major player for the upcoming QBRED features.

Producing some smart performers in his brief but potent siring career, breeders can only lament what impact Hurrikane Kingcole may have made.

His legacy continues and with a full brother to Cat King Cole a current yearling, who knows where the legacy will end.

 

THE MILESTONE

Ben Battle passed a milestone during the week when claiming his 100th career driving success.

Partnering the Ron Sallis-trained Hot Embers, it was a barrier-to-box performance with Battle firing Hot Embers out from gate one with the pair never headed thereafter.

Hot Embers has now won two races since being under the care of Sallis, with both wins coming at Redcliffe, both when leading throughout and both when being driven by Ben Battle.

Running an even tempo through the opening half, Battle stopped the clock with splits of 30.2 and 30.1 before dialling it up through the third panel with a 28.8 third quarter.

Keeping the fire stoked up the stretch, Hot Embers held on to claim victory by one-and-a-half metres, the 1.57.5 a whisker outside his career best of 1.57.4 from seven career victories.

It has been a big 12 months for Battle, having married wife Tamara in 2020 and the pair moving on to a new property near Mutdapilly.

The hard-working pair have been busy adding touches to the property to have the layout what they want to accommodate their team.

While happy to share the driving of the horses he trains between himself and other freelance drivers, Battle has been able to pick up plenty of outside drives since arriving in Queensland.

But it is not just race driving where Battle finds the most satisfaction.

Educating yearlings is one aspect that Battle has been keen to develop further, with Justa Little Bit likely to be a main player in the upcoming three-year-old QBRED Triad Final - a graduate of the Battle education process.

Over the past few months, another 20 students have been through the Battle property, with the young horses gaining vital education as they transition towards a career in racing.

As Ben and Tamara continue to build their name in Queensland, the quality of horses being sent their way continues to expand.

The latest graduates include yearlings by Captaintreacherous and Bettors Delight, with Battle excited by the stock owners and trainers have sent to him this season.

The next milestone for Ben could just be seeing a horse he educated tasting Group 1 glory.

 

THE WILDCARD

The McCarthy family really made their mark on the national harness racing stage while based in Queensland before returning to New South Wales almost 10 years ago.

Originally from New South Wales, the transition from a Bathurst butcher shop to a dominant force in Queensland and Australian harness racing has been well documented.

However, on Saturday a new chapter to the McCarthy story was added when Narelle McCarthy started her first runner at Albion Park.

The Creek is the scene of some of the finest moments for the McCarthy family, and Saturday saw Narelle prepare four starters and husband John, one.

Taking out a trainer’s licence in 2019, the McCarthys have returned for a Brisbane campaign and Under Worked became the first starter in Narelle McCarthy’s name in Queensland.

Finishing near the rear behind Maywyns Best in the opening race on the card, the second of Narelle’s four starters was sent to the post as the favourite in race two.

Preparing Taroona Bromac, the gelding found the front early and once in control, held off the challengers to claim a one-metre victory in a new career PB mile-rate of 1.53.0.

Taroona Bromac came to the McCarthy stable from Western Australia where his form had tapered, but the change of scenery has seen a return to form, claiming his 15th career victory following Saturday’s success.

The McCarthy name dominated Queensland harness in the 2000s, and while they have still been a major player during carnival time, will the famous blue and green checks be seen more regularly in the winner’s enclosure at The Creek?

 

THIS WEEK

The action this week kicks off with a Marburg meeting for the Labour Day long weekend, signalling seven straight days of harness racing in Queensland.

Heats of the ever-popular Marburg to Albion Series will be held, with three heats set down for decision with the Final to be held on Saturday night at The Creek.

Albion Park will host three meetings for the week, the regular Tuesday afternoon and Saturday night metropolitan fixture complemented with racing on Friday night.

Redcliffe will host an additional meeting for the week, rounding out the seven Queensland fixtures with racing across three days.

In conjunction with the regular Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon programmes, The Triangle will host a Sunday evening card with all races offering a QBRED cash bonus to the winner.

 

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