Catch up on the week’s harness racing action in our weekly review, thanks to Darren Clayton.
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Well, it is kind of both, but controlled on the ground and it has a camera.
On Saturday night, Racing Queensland were able to implement drone footage into the live race broadcast in an Australian harness racing first, and the initial response seems overwhelmingly positive.
Seeing the horses move up behind the mobile to the starting point from above gave a whole new perspective that viewers have not experienced before.
With next week’s TAB Trot Rods series finale, and the upcoming Constellations Winter Carnival, the innovation, along with building on the current enhancements, will ensure the visual representation of the racing continues to reach new peaks.
Complementing the drone footage was a low lateral shot on the home bend in the broadcast, along with the helmet cam footage.
The helmet cam was off to a winning start on the night, with Betterthandiamonds scoring the narrowest of victories over Fond Memories.
Driver Pete McMullen was wearing the helmet cam and the replay shows just how desperate he was driving over the concluding stages to hold on for the victory.
Trainer Chantal Turpin took training honours for the night with three victories, while Shane Fraser and Grant Dixon recorded a pair of training wins.
Driving honours were split with Pete McMullen ‘book-ending’ the card with a double, while Shane Graham and Grant Dixon also went home with a pair of victories.
The equine stars were hard to split, with some impressive performances across the board.
Darren Weeks and Kylie Rasmussen look to have unearthed another top-line filly in the form of Cat King Cole.
Clinical in scoring a dominant victory from the front, the daughter of Hurrikane Kingcole appears to have the Group 1 2YO Triad Final at her mercy.
Talent To Spare was too good in the Group 1 QBRED Triad Final for 3YO Fillies, while Manila Playboy was equally as impressive in claiming the Group 1 equivalent for the boys.
First introduced in 2018 as a standalone night, the strength of the QBRED racing has continued to grow, and with the best state-based futurity scheme in the country, it can only get better.
Vic Frost and Gail Geeson had five horses engaged on Saturday night, where unfortunately they were unable to get into the placings with any of the quintet.
They may not have gone home with any of the big money on offer, but the effort to have five runners on the feature night was a great achievement.
Not only did they have the five runners, but all five runners are closely related, hailing from the same maternal family.
Frostiness, Classiness and Likeness are all full sisters by Frost’s champion Westburn Grant, out of the mare Niki Gee.
Their five runners on Saturday night all hail from one of these three mares, a family that has produced a stack of winners for Frost and Geeson.
Frostiness was represented in the four-year-old mares Triad by her daughter Frost En Ice and by Scotch En Ice in the three-year-old colts and geldings Triad.
Frost En Ice was unplaced while Scotch En Ice was able to stick to the inside in finishing fourth behind Manila Playboy.
Likeness produced Sugarkane in the four-year-old mares Triad and after a tough run outside the leader, faded to be near the rear of the field.
Docta Feelgood is out of the mare Nurse Feelgood, who is in turn out of Likeness and despite a dominant victory at Redcliffe heading into Saturday night, was no match for Manila Playboy.
The final runner for the popular couple was Apache Whitesox, the flashy four-year-old gelding finishing down the line in the boys’ Triad.
A son of Hurrikane Kingcole, Apache Whitesox is out of the mare Classiness.
With all five runners from Saturday night boasting half or full brothers that are current two-year-olds, this season’s achievement could well be bettered in 2022.
One win away from 550 career victories in the bike, Trent Dawson is having a super season, currently sitting at a 20% winning strike-rate as a driver.
On Saturday, Dawson was able to capture the biggest win of all, breaking through to claim his maiden Group 1 success as both a trainer and driver, with a win behind Talent To Spare.
Deflated following the barrier draw where his star filly drew outside the second line in gate 13, the number did not prove to be unlucky with a calculated drive taking luck out of the equation.
The winning move came early in the race with Dawson pressing the button and circling the field going down the back-straight on the first occasion, pushing on to find the front with 1500 metres left to run.
Once able to dictate, Dawson drove the perfect race and with there looking only one danger turning off the back straight, the tempo was dialled up as he tried to pinch a margin.
Kicking clear, Talent To Spare was able to dig deep and fight off all challengers in claiming victory with a five-metre margin over Jasper, with a brave Aunty Bella finishing third.
Having shown plenty of ability and wicked speed to date in her career, it was always going to be a distance query that would seal her fate.
Dispelling that myth with a powerful effort in front, the 1.56.1 mile-rate sliced a half-second off the race record held by Bonnie Jujon.
A daughter of Hurrikane Kingcole, Talent To Spare is raced by her breeders, Kay and Kevin Seymour under the banner of Solid Earth Pty Ltd.
The win gave Solid Earth their seventh three-year-old fillies Triad victory in the past 13 renewals of the race.
Trainer Shane Fraser landed the second Group 1 of his training career on Saturday when Manila Playboy claimed the QBRED Triad Final for Colts & Geldings to his 2020 Redcliffe Sales Series win.
Making full use of the front-line draw over his main rivals, once driver Shane Graham had the gelding in front, the pair were able to control the race and score an effortless victory by more than 13 metres.
In carving out sections in front of 29.6, 28.7, 29.3, and a closing sprint of 28.3, Manila Playboy was able to stop the clock in a 1.55.0 mile-rate.
That time created a new race record, with the previous best of 1.55.8 set back in 2001 when Cam Dee was successful with the charismatic Sammy DiFrancesco at the reigns.
Only three other pacers have ever bettered 1.57 to claim the feature - all three trained by Grant Dixon; Majestic Mach, Colt Thirty One and Governor Jujon.
The dam of Manila Playboy, Bangkok Dancer also held honours on the QRBED night, represented by three of her foals.
Cheesandkisses is the elder half-sister of Manila Playboy and contested the four-year-old mares feature when finishing in fifth place behind Betterthandiamonds.
Meanwhile, the younger half-brother of the pair, Bangkok Deejay, was successful in the two-year-old Breeders Classic Consolation.
The Fraser/Graham combination was the right tonic, as the gelded son of A Rocknroll Dance looked smart in leading throughout in a 1.56.3 mile-rate.
With the 2YO Triad to be held on the final night of the Constellations carnival, Fraser will have a serious contender for the title, such was the strength of the victory at just his second race start.
To top the great night off for Shane Fraser and his family, Bangkok Deejay also pocketed the QBRED first win bonus of $12,000 on top of his race earnings, effectively making it a $19,000 maiden-breaking win.
Six race meetings are scheduled to be decided this week in Queensland, with Albion Park hosting three, Redcliffe two and the best up-close action at Marburg, where they will host a meeting on Sunday afternoon.
The week starts with The Creek playing host to a nine-race card on Tuesday afternoon, and will also see the arrival of another visiting New South Wales stable.
KerryAnn and Robbie Morris have been regulars in Queensland the past few seasons and have accepted with three runners on Tuesday.
The Creek will fill the week with a Friday afternoon meeting followed with the metropolitan fixture on Saturday night.
Another of the Ultimate Tools-sponsored events is programmed, this time for the three-year-olds.
Again to complement the $21,610 stakes will be vouchers to the winning trainer and driver from the race sponsor.
At Redcliffe, the Trot Rods’ final two heats are set down for this Wednesday night, prior to the big final night being held one week later on Wednesday May 26.
Rounding out the week will be another Sunday afternoon fixture from Marburg with heats of the Country to Coast Series, where those qualifying through to the Final will contest a $10,910 event at Redcliffe on Friday June 18.