Young love to face trotting test
PETE McMullen and Chantal Turpin are partners in life, but when they get on the track, their rivalry is as strong as their love.
The modest Ipswich young guns will be driving horses tonight in the Premiers Cup Final for $50,000 prizemoney on the Gold Coast.
Speaking yesterday from the McMullen family stables at Haigslea, Pete is preparing to drive I'm Young Tommy, while his fiancée Chantal is driving Compton Street.
Pete and Chantal, both 21, grew up with trotting horses. As trotting trainer-drivers Pete is third-generation and Chantal second-generation. Mostly now Pete drives the horses Chantal trains.
The country couple's association goes back to their childhood and has always been based around competing - mostly with each other.
"We pretty much grew up together; we raced Shetland ponies together and we raced against each other since we were six," Pete said.
Quickly, he added: "I'm always winning of course."
Chantal smiled: "He's just saying that; I had the better Shetland."
The small-scale rivalry grew as they moved on to driving full-size horses, both getting their licences to race big horses at 16.
"We're always trying to outdo each other and we both think we're going to beat each other," Pete said.
While they share a passion for competition, they also both have an apparent indifference about their relationship.
Asked whether there was a point when he realised they were more than rivals, Pete replied: "Not really".
Chantal agreed: "It just kind of happened; I don't really remember."
Pushed, Pete expanded: "I was working for my father and Chantal was with her father and then we went out on our own and became a couple; it must have been not long before Christmas."
Chantal said she and Pete, who are moving to a property near Lowood, made a deal that he'd buy her a Jeep if she won tonight, but she'd be happy if Pete won.
"I'd be happy if I won," Pete said. "I'd still be happy if Chantal won. If neither of us wins, we want to beat each other. I suppose that's why we're rivals."