Queensland Harness Racing Wrap - April 15

15 April 2024
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Catch up on the week's harness racing action in our weekly review, thanks to Darren Clayton.

 

THE GOOD

One win was expected while the other was somewhat of a surprise in the Australian Pacing Gold three-year-old Bullion Finals on Saturday night.

Soap Opera proved her class when overcoming the outside second line barrier, pulling clear of her rivals to post an 11.4 metre winning margin.

Settled at the rear of the field as Synchronizer set the pace, driver Angus Garrard eased three-wide with 1000 metres to travel and was able to flush out Tamarah to receive cover.

With Tamarah pressing on to take control with 400 metres to travel, Garrard sat patiently as he moved to the wheel of the new leader.

Hitting the lead as they approached the home bend, Soap Opera pulled away, easing down on the line, posting the winning time in 1.54.0 as she claimed the fourth win of her career.

The Phil Mitchell-trained Hatties Jewel chased out of the pack to grab second, with the Chantal Turpin-trained Shackouttheback overcoming an error to finish in third.

A $15,000 purchase, the filly is raced by Kylie Rasmussen and Darren Wilson and trained by Darren Weeks, with the New South Wales Oaks on May 4 a potential target for Soap Opera moving forward.

In the colts and geldings Final, the marked suggested it was a two-horse race between the favourite Hot Rod Harry and Dele Row.

Drawn favourably in gate one, Hot Rod Harry was crossed in the early stages, showing little speed when the mobile pulled clear.

That left Dele Row looking to get away from the inside in the early stages and as a result was racing in restricted room where he struck trouble, galloped and ended his chances.

Luke McCarthy made the most of the situation in the early stages, sending Chicago Bart forward to take control with 1200 metres to travel.

Once in front, the Sweet Lou colt was allowed to roll, with a first quarter in 27.1 seconds followed by a 28.8 second split.

Nathan Dawson sent Bronski Zulu forward to sit parked over the last 1000 metres and down the back, moved up to apply some pressure as the third quarter appeared in 28.4 seconds. 

Turning for home, Chicago Bart was travelling strongly and put a break on the field, with nothing making ground from out of the pack, running home in 28.8 seconds to post a winning margin of 8.6 metres.

Bronski Zulu held on for a narrow second over the fast-finishing Checknoutthetalent and Narissa McMullen, with the winning rate posted in 1.52.9.

It was the third career victory for Chicago Bart who debuted at 'The Creek' during the 'ID23 Carnival' with victory in a two-year-old event.

Owned by Gary Barton, the colt was a $50,000 purchase from the 2022 Gold Coast APG Sale and gave Barton a double on the night following the success of Muscle Bart in the opening race.

 

THE BAD

In the midst of a nine-week battle that is still far from over, a Wednesday night victory provided the Elkins family with a moment of brightness.

Greg Elkins has been in hospital since being kicked by a horse close to three months ago, spending much of that time in a critical condition and fighting for his life.

A mare that Elkins owns, Maffioso Girl, has been taken on by Ben Battle and last Wednesday, the mare was second-up from a spell from a second line barrier.

With Matt Elkins taking the reins, he put the eight-year-old into the race soon after the start, moving around the field to take control with 1400 metres left to travel.

The first quarter appeared on the board in 29.4 seconds, with a second split of 31.8 seconds as Explanation Noted was sent forward to sit outside the leader over the last lap.

Approaching the home bend, it was a two-horse race as eight-year-old mare Maffioso Girl was trying to repel the challenge thrown down by the five-year-old mare Explanation Noted.

Matt Elkins was able to get the best from his mare and hold off the challenge to claim victory by the barest margin, with the entire Elkins family appreciative of the efforts of the Battle family in taking on the mare.

Previously owned by long-time stable clients Peter and Lesley Medhurst, Greg Elkins purchased the mare in early 2022, with the latest win the seventh time the mare has won for Elkins as owner, having also prepared her to 15 victories as her trainer.

The Medhursts have had enjoyed plenty of success with the Elkins stable over the years, horses like Jumping Jolt, Purple Royale, Bee Gees Bandit and Tearaway Diamond are just some of the horses that have had Queensland success for the Elkins and Medhurst combination.

A cruel twist saw Lesley Medhurst lose her battle with cancer last Monday, having bred and raced hundreds of winners with husband Peter over the years.

For Matt Elkins, his association with the mare has seen him drive her to victory in all 16 of her Queensland wins.

With Greg still in the Princess Alexandria Hospital, the last week has seen some good signs as he continues the fight back to health.

 

THE WILDCARD

It was a case of which way to look for trainer Ron Sallis on Saturday in the last race of the night.

Preparing two runners in the small field, Miss Mucho and Might As Well, the pair were drawn the widest two barriers in five and six, respectively.

With speed drawn to the inside, the field settled into single file through the opening 600 metres with the Sallis pair the last two in the line.

Approaching the winning post with one lap to travel, it was Narissa McMullen aboard Miss Mucho that made the first move, angling into the running line to get closer to the action.

Sliding forward, it was then Might As Well with Angus Garrard that secured the cart home over the final 1000 metres.

Bonnies Dance had led comfortably and after a steady first quarter in 28.8 seconds, looked to be holding all the aces after Trista Dixon was able to back the speed right off with a 32 second split.

Miss Mucho moved up to Bonnies Dance as they moved down the back straight and with a third split of 28.2 seconds, the race really developed into a last quarter showdown.

It was Might As Well that peeled off the back of Miss Mucho and had the required speed to arrive in the last stride to claim victory to give Angus Garrard a treble on the night.

The last quarter was a sizzling 26.8 seconds, with Miss Mucho also gaining the better of the leader Bonnies Dance to grab second, with the barest possible winning margin framed at a short-half-head.

That gave Sallis the quinella, and with both mares owned by Ron’s wife Stacey, the best result all-round for the consistent stable.

Taking the win tally to seven for the term, those seven wins have been recorded by six different horses.

 

THE MILESTONE

Bun In The Oven had her first Australian start at Albion Park on April 11, 2023, for trainer Lacey Hinze when making an error and taking no part in the race.

The mare would have another 22 starts for the 2023 season where she would place on three occasions.

Starting this season with a second placing, the six-year-old mare was lining up for her 12th start of the term at 'The Creek' last Tuesday and still chasing her first Australian victory.

After beginning safely, driver Zac Chappenden continued to press forward and was able to settle three back on the peg line as the first four runners raced in single file through the opening 1400 metres.

Easing off the inside with 700 metres to travel, Bun In The Oven loomed strongly down the back and reaching the 400 metre mark, had put her head in front as the leader, The Reaper, started to feel the pinch.

Hitting the front, The Reaper kicked back and the pair pulled clear of the chasing pack in a two-horse duel to the wire.

Bun In The Oven, despite drifting up the track, was able to grip on for a narrow victory, giving part owners Lacey Hinze and Doug Manger a well-deserved victory, almost 12 months to the day since that first Australian appearance.

For Manger, it was his second win with the mare, having purchased the square gaiter in December 2022 and winning first up at Cambridge following her purchase.

The patience has been repaid and connections will also receive the Racing Queensland trotters first win bonus.

 

THIS WEEK

A standalone trial program at Albion Park on Monday starts the racing week, before six straight race meetings follow.

Albion Park has been moved to a Tuesday night slot to start the week and will host meetings on Friday night and then the Saturday metropolitan fixture.

Redcliffe will have the Wednesday and Thursday regular slots complemented by a Sunday evening meeting.

On Tuesday afternoon at Menangle talented three-year-old trotter Ajay Volstead trained by Darren Weeks, will contest a NSW Trotters Foundation heat as he builds to a potential NSW Trotters Derby tilt.

Following Saturday night’s meeting, a track resurfacing of Albion Park will commence, resulting in next week’s calendar looking slightly different, the Tuesday meeting shifting to Marburg, with nominations closing Thursday at 10am.

Friday will see nominations close for the first heats of the 2024 Redcliffe Trot Rods series, which will start on Wednesday week.

 

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