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

Welcome news to help Queensland keep pace


THERE is an air of optimism on the Queensland harness horizon if Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell is on the money with his editorial piece in the July issue of Pace Magazine.

Headed "Raft of initiatives to benefit harness racing" the article goes on to list a number of cash injections, totalling $1 million directly as prize money and incremental increases in drivers fees, rising in small steps and reaching $62 per drive in 2021.

As the average age of our top 10 drivers is 29 years, this is said to demonstrate the depth of opportunities within the code.

The mission statement issued is as follows.

"We want to ensure that these drivers (the top ten, we assume), and those that follow them, including the mini-trotting participants, can continue to forge a career in harness racing".

If you wanted to know where the $1 million for the extra prize money came from, in 2018, the Government weighed in with at least half of a $2 million increase in funding for the code with RQ as its partner.

We are told on a daily basis of the huge increases in harness turnover, and the greater goldmine said to exist in the new "panacea for all ills", the National Ratings System of handicapping and programming.

Strange that the exta cash should have been required when the picture is so rosy.

Mind you, even though the term "grass roots" got yet another run, there was not one dollar for a budget exercise to re-ignite the sport at Townsville, a venue which had a TAB meeting every Saturday night, when I shifted to Queensland 40 years ago.

The world of harness is a funny place. Forty years ago, the Sunshine State was hobbyist trainers paradise, where nearly every horse could be placed in a race with a realistic chance of defraying costs.

We have progressed to the stage now of a shrunken horse pool liberally salted with old, but still quite able horses, which are racing many grades below their real ability, on the misguided premise that somehow they are entitled to pension benefits.

There is one positive however, the Springboard Series for 2yo Trotters. It has not attracted a flood of moderate juveniles from Victoria as might have been expected, but with 12 months to digest the results of this first "toe in the water" exercise, the four which are dividing the spoils at the moment, will likely be 24 this time next year. But, already one dampener has reared its head.

A new definition of a QBred trotting stallion includes "a horse registered in Queensland to supply frozen semen in Australia".

Those horses should figure prominently in the budgets of "grass roots" breeders.

A comment from a "grass roots" breeder/participant is worth supporting.

"Whoever invented this system has never raced a horse,'' the breeder said.

"Our maiden now has to race winners of 16 races. We have gone from our RO class to at least the equivalent of an R2-R3 without having run a place.

"On the Queensland racing published list of ratings we are rated above a horse that has earned $75,000.

Firstly, they destroyed all incentive to breeding (having gone from eight foals per season to nil for the past five years) they are now destroying any thoughts of racing.

After a life time of interest in harness racing I am now very disillusioned.

Can you see any positives in a system that discourages horses from commencing their racing life. Any thoughts to help rekindle my interest."

SAQ positive

HERE'S a positive. Any chance to work with the SAQ re-homing group should be grabbed and held very tight.

"Dear Ms Kunde,

"Thank you for allowing us to view Marburg Showgrounds recently. After looking at the area available and after discussion with our management committee and members, we would like to propose the establishment of SAQ home grounds at Marburg Showgrounds.

"As SAQ Inc has not had home grounds since its formation in 1998 and have relied on the availability of established grounds in a number of different locations, we are excited at the prospect of finally having grounds we can use on a regular basis for our musters, clinics and other events.

"We understand other groups, including Marburg Pacing Association, utilise the showgrounds and will ensure our activities do not cause any discord with other organisations and we hope to work amicably with Marburg Show Society and Marburg Pacing Association in promoting the grounds".

Handy tips

SELECTIONS for Albion Park tonight.

R1: Quinella 4-5: Preston Pans (T Butt) and Unassuming Champ (D Gatt-Bouquet).

R2: Box trifecta 1-4-6: Thats What I Said (Madi Dux)-Letscatchmeifucan (C Turpin)-Its My Generation (T McMullen).

R3: E/w 4: Our Bondi Beach (N Dawson).

R4: First Four 4-5-6-7: Jossie Joames (A Sanderson)-Fame Assured (G Dixon/Mandy Kriden (B Barnes)-Eleniark (J Caldow).

R5: Box trifecta 5-6-10: Make Way (T Butt)-Jesse Duke (L McCarthy)-Self Assured (K Rasmussen).

R6: Box trifecta 4-1-9: Our Princess Tiffany (K Rasmussen)-Write About Lexy (B Hewitt)-Eternal Promise (A Sanderson).

R7: E/w 1: Maretti (C Geary).

R8: Box trifecta 1-2-8: Ohoka Punter (P Diebert)-Colt Thiry One (G Dixon)-Watch Pulp Fiction (C Turpin).

R9: Quinella 8-12: Majestic Courtney (T Butt) and Tough Monarch (R Alchin).

R10: E/w Torqueonetwothree (A Sanderson).

Honour board

THE black hole effect has taken its grip with a low Ipswich factor of 18/48. Adam Richardson was top driver with four wins. Darrell Graham led in three of the best to be top trainer.

Most pleasing were Cobbler Lane, franking his form for Warren Hinze and Adam Richardson, and Malibu Dreams, at Redcliffe for Peter Donohoe and Darrell Graham combining.

Albion Park, July 5: Cobbler Lane (Adam Richardson for Warren Hinze); Recipe For Dreaming (Pete McMullen for Richard Hutchinson); Rory Mach (Adam Sanderson for Darrell Graham); Proficient (Matt Elkins for Trevor Lambourn).

Albion Park, July 6: Chantrey (Taleah McMullen for Ryan Veivers); Beaver (Trent Dawson for Melissa Gillies); Trojan Banner (Hayden Barnes for Alistair Barnes).

Albion Park, July 9: Shegotsass (Tim Gillespie); Daveys Gift (Adam Richardson for Kay Crone).

Redcliffe, July 10: Living Grand (Hayden Barnes for Steve Furey); Perfect Jesse (Narissa McMullen for Mark Rees); Rory Mach (Brittany Graham for Darrell Graham); Moonlight Jack (Nathan Dawson for Mitchell Dawson); Bundjalong Beauty (Adam Richardson for Kay Crone).

Redcliffe, July 11: Malibu Dreams (Darrell Graham for Peter Donohoe); Studleigh Stride (Taleah McMullen for John McMullen); Sweet As (Paul Diebert for Darrell Graham); Burning Ambition (Adam Richardson for Mitchell Dawson).

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