QT trot columnist and harness racer Denis Smith.
QT trot columnist and harness racer Denis Smith. David Nielsen

Tribute to two great masters of light harness

TWO more former masters of the light harness craft have left us bound for "that big race track in the sky".

They were two totally different men, from opposite ends of the training spectrum. Both were owners - one a full blown and flamboyant professional; the other, for the time he lived at Ebenezer, the most successful hobbyist I have ever known.

They shared only one similarity. Both were tall. In personality, they were poles apart.

One was a born salesman, friendly and gregarious. The other was quiet, solitary, slow to trust others.

The salesman was a good learner, combining and applying his horse skills and another country, to put a product on the track with his own unique signature. He could delegate tasks and was a good teacher, attested to by the successful dynasty that he founded.

The other, of high intelligence, pushed the envelope from the day that he graduated from horse breaker to trainer, taking nothing for granted. He applied his own techniques if he found the traditional methods to be wanting.

Both men came from humble beginnings.

The professional, born, raised and working in the Ipswich area, related to the O'Sheas of Rosewood. He went to western Queensland working on the renowned Hormet Bank station. He returned to Ipswich and was introduced to trotting by a veteran of the show circuit in Aub Kennoway.

It was the start of a lifelong love affair.

The hobbyist was a boy refugee from war-torn Europe to New Zealand where he became a farm hand in the dairy industry. He later took on the breaking and education of harness horses and progressed to training and driving.

Both were in their early 80s at the time of passing.

"Hollywood" John McMullen had a huge impact on Brisbane harness. He was an active exporter of horses to the United States, taking stock to the major tracks and racing them successfully there before selling on at a good price.

In the sunshine State he campaigned such good ones as Viking Reign, Alba Wings (Qld Derby), Toliver Bye Bye . . . the list goes on.

Perhaps his most significant performer was The Aircraft, dominant from the "10 across the front" mobile start format on the new 1000 metre Albion Park track in the mid 80s.

Often rated unbeatable, his supporters pounded the bookmakers unmercifully causing many to abandon the trots as a venue.

A memorable quote from McMullen, which perhaps indicated his personal view on punting, was: "First prize to the pay-up fee is the best odds on any racecourse".

As the accepted pay-up fee at that time was 1/2% of first money the odds were 199 to 1.

His personal stats as a trainer tell it all. Starters: 4952. Winners: 734. Placings: 1261 for earnings of $2,386,973.

McMullen was no slouch as a driver either. His efforts produced 509 wins and 789 placings, the bank $1,551,892.

Albert Willem "Slim" Dykmann was a well known identity in New Zealand prior to coming to Queensland, through the deeds of his star trotter Scotch Tar.

A gelded son of pacing sire Tarport Coulter, Scotch Tar raced for eight seasons, starting on 87 occasions for 29 wins and 10 placings. He maintained a high profile among the square gaiters, and banking $140,920 in the process.

Slim settled at Ebenezer south of Ipswich and commenced to weave his magic there, first rising to notice through the deeds of Natty Jack, a winner of 20 races on the old Southport track.

It was however his skill with mares that bought him fortune here.

Top of the tree was the iron- legged Happy Haldon starting on 196 occasions for 62 wins 52 placings, sitting death seat and grinding her opposition into the ground, earning $290,000.

Diamond Hunter, had 11 wins under two minute rate from her total of 17, and $71,000, an Australian high point at the time.

Then came Hike Along. A massive 32 runs as a two-year-old in a total of 60 starts which netted $68,000 from 15 wins and 19 placings.

At stud, that was 11 foals and seven winners, four of which earned in excess of $100,000.

Slim Dykmann had no dynasty, just the sharp and lasting memory of a man who knew what he was doing, and did it incredibly well.

Marburg Monday

CHECK out Monday's QT for the Marburg trot fields covering the Marburg Pacing Association's latest TAB meeting.

Come along and enjoy the public holiday.

Handy tips

SELECTIONS for Albion Park tonight.

R1: Quinella 1-2: Grinvil (P McMullen) and Miss Kenny (a Richardson).

R2: Quinella 1-8: Glenferrie Baby (K Dawson) and Annika Magic (N Dawson).

R3: Quinella 1-3: Tact Ollie (A Sanderson) and Ima Top Tycoon (D McMullen).

R4: Box trifecta in four 1-2-4-8: Vettel (K Dawson)-My Ultimate Fella (Nathan Dawson)-Top Flight Cruize (K Rasmussen)-Beau Cishlom (D McMullen).

R5: Quinella 1-8: Smooth Showgirl (A Sanderson) and Bohdi Tree (L Cain).

R6: Box trifecta 1-3-4: Spike Bromac (N McMullen)-Remember Them (N Dawson)-Chal Fire (K Dawson).

R7: E/w 9: Its Just Kenny (G Dixon).

R8: Box trifecta 1-4-8: Miracle rising (G Dixon)-Jeter (D Graham)-Releven Dream (P McMullen).

R9: Box trifecta 1-3-8: Caesars Astrum (P McMullen)- Invite Only (D Graham)-Heavens Hint (N Dawson).

Tips and comment for the Marburg TAB meeting on Monday.

Race 1 selections: 3-5-7.

DONOMOR: Has shown gate speed in the past. Perhaps best chance.

TAFFY BOY: Bad draw, but places one in five. Good driver.

CURUMBIN KID: Gets easy trail here. Gets home okay. May figure.

Race 2 selections: 3-9-8.

HONEY PLEASE: Two latest runs at Albion Park excellent. Can win this.

NORTHERN MUSCLE: Has the ability, 20 metres no problem, but must be taken on trust.

DAY TOURER: Quick away and reliable. Solid chance.

Race 3 selections: 3-8-4.

LIGHT HORSE: Gate speed. If he can hold the lead he can do the job.

INCITER: Runs on strong. Will be there at the end.

NOT ALWAYS: Third last time out at Redcliffe 18/09. Chance on that.

Race 4 selections: 5-7-8.

PACIFIC DRUMS: Has speed to cross these. If leader, will be right there.

BONNIE JUJON: Gets sweet trail into this. Big money earner and as honest as the sun.

SOLDIER OF FORTUNE: In top form. Marburg specialist and will be running on.

Race 5 selections: 2-4-9.

TELL THE FUTURE: Third Redcliffe last time out has gate speed and gets chance.

ROWDYS ACE: Will be prominent throughout. Place hope.

SURFACE TO AIR: Veteran, but is probably down in class based on opposition.

Race 6 selections: 4-7-9.

FOR TONY: Freshened for this. Top stable, top driver.

HEADWIN: Good trial when resuming at Albion Park on Tuesday.

HIGH ON MONTANA: Goes very well here.

Race 7 selections: 5-1-3.

FRANCO TOTEM: Wins at last three Albion Park. Draw should not hinder.

PROFICIENT: Fourth run from spell. Should be right now.

MR MEDDLE: Last start win at Albion Park is good credentials for this.

Race 8 selections: 4-5-9.

TAKITIMU EXPRESS: Been racing against much better company in New Zealand.

VELUTTI: Lightly raced. Top stable, in form driver, bad draw.

LETHAL PROMISE: Very consistent form. May prove too fit for these.

Race 9 selections: 2-4-5.

STRANGE CONDUCT: Form sound. Winner here last meeting, good driver.

MALONE: Great formline, top stable top driver, and every chance.

ARTS PEREGRINE: Last start winner Redcliffe. Can repeat with a good trail into it.



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