Picture: Rob Williams.
Picture: Rob Williams.

Ambitious lad rising up harness ranks

TROT TACTICS

GOING outside the confines of the Ipswich footprint, we check out the progress of rookie driver Angus Garrard.

His steady rise to prominence in the list of Queensland sulky sitters has begun to attract a deal of attention.

The lad has been driving at the races for approximately 12 months and boasts career stats of 481 starts for 54 wins, 55 seconds and 57 thirds. This has produced prize money to the tune of $301,373.

Garrard, a student at St Pauls (Bald Hills) will finish his studies at the end of this year and no doubt be introduced to a busy life in pesticides, retail saddlery and yet more harness racing. Garrard cannot remember a life without horses.

He rates Bohdi tree as the best performed horse he has driven. He nominates a horse called Gold And Black as having the most potential.

He has only one ambition: “To be the best I can be”.

It is a good goal for a fourth generation harness man. It will take him far.

Guessing game

HARNESS in Queensland is fuelled by rumours.

The latest concerns surround the possible site for the venue which will replace Albion Park.

The word has it that it is Wacol or Yatala.

Your guess is as good as mine but at least the inside of Doomben was not mentioned.

That would be the pits.

Unfair criticism

THE latest attack on Albion Park chairman David Fowler is unwarranted.

Fowler, who followed Kevin Seymour AM into the chair at Albion Park, was handed the poisoned chalice. No Hinze Stand, no Silks Restaurant, a broadcast facility which would be a laughing stock at Broken Hill in western NSW.

For at least a decade, Albion Park broadcast product has emanated from a ramshackle pile of temporary scaffolding for caller Chris Barsby, judges and camera operators at race meetings.

Further, Fowler has been in the chair through a period in which harness racing has been saddled with successive punter unfriendly racing formats.

First came “Mobile Conditioned”, which we adopted nationally on the principle that it would enhance and extend the earning capacity of our racing pool horse population.

Sadly the writing of “conditions” on races, which became an art form, married to a system of allotting barrier draws (a base of a minimum 16 methods with the freedom to combine any number of these to arrive at the final determination), became a stew in which any form line was soon submerged.

When the penny finally dropped, the people driving the truck at Harness Racing Australia implemented a version of the “Ratings”, said to be be based on and similar to the Thoroughbred system.

As it was numbers, HRA engaged a professional mathematician to create a “matrix”, which would create order in the system.

It was a nice try but when you interface a computer program with the mass of constantly varying variables which is a harness racehorse, you are on a hiding to nothing.

David Fowler, try as he might, cannot cure the ills of Albion Park.

He is to be commended on bringing the debacle over the future of the complex into the open. He is hampered by policies which should not exist.

When we decide to bite the bullet and give our major source of income, the punter, an attractive package to work with, then the ship is likely to become buoyant again.

It does, however, require an overhaul in other areas to guarantee a measure of success.

Handy tips

SELECTIONS for Albion Park tonight.

R1: Quinella 1-9: Wheres The Spirit (P McMullen) and I Am Serengeti (K Morris).

R2: Quinella 2-4: Oasis Dream (M Dux) and Only In Rome (T Dawson).

R3: Box trifecta 2-3-4: Rich Virgin (M Elkins)-Divas Delight (T Dawson)-Maretti (R Maguire).

R4: Quinella 2-7: Bohdi Tree (T Moffat) and Hard To Hear (T Dawson).

R5: Quinella 3-5: Slippery Jade (N Chalk) and Colombian Gold (P Greig).

R6: Quinella 3-10: Urban Girl (N McMullen) and Beau Chisholm (R Maguire).

R7: Quinella 1-4: Smooth Showgirl (A Sanderson) and Casino Tommy (N Dawson).

R8: E/w 2: Goal Kicker (K Dawson).

Honour board

A spread on the leaderboard this week with brother and sister, Pete and Narissa McMullen, top drivers with four wins apiece. Matt Elkins was close up with three.

A traffic jam in the training ranks as well with Ron Sallis and John McMullen sharing the laurels, each leading in three of the best. Dale Belford, Jason Carkeet, Dave Russell and Chantal Turpin all prepared two winners.

Most pleasing was Feeling The Thrill for owner/breeder Donald Cox. Ipswich factor: 20/44.

Albion Park, March 3: Rich Virgin (Matt Elkins for Ron Sallis); B Mac C (Taleah McMullen for John McMullen); Crown Mojo (Adam Sanderson for Jason Carkeet); Comply Or Die (Narissa McMullen for Ron Sallis); Illawong Champers (Matt Elkins for Dave Russell).

Albion Park, March 7: Major Currency (Narissa McMullen for Ron Sallis); With The Band (Kelli Dawson for Donny Smith); Majestic Simon (Chantal Turpin); Just Rokin (Pete McMullen for Peter Greig); Feeling For A Rainbow (Matt Elkins for Dave Russell).

Albion Park, March 10: My China Doll (Kylie Rasmussen for Dale Belford); Montana Nights (Hayden Barnes for Alistair Barnes); Eternal Promise (Adam Sanderson for Grant Dixon).

Redcliffe, March 11: Just Rokin (Pete McMullen for Peter Greig); Our Delight (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin); Studleigh Will (Narissa McMullen for John McMullen).

Redcliffe, March 12: Feel The Thrill (Narissa McMullen for John McMullen); Thank Heaven for Girls (Pete McMullen for Dale Belford); Headwin (Nathan Dawson for Allan Godwin).