Grant Dixon. Picture: Hamish Blair/Racing Queensland
Grant Dixon. Picture: Hamish Blair/Racing Queensland

Dixon, Graham chasing Memorial Championships glory


Denis Smith

THE traditional or "square gaited " trotter has his place in the spotlight tonight as the Summer Carnival gets underway at Albion Park.

Sharing billing with the Be Good Johnny Sprint the trotters go round in the Darrell Alexander Memorial Championship.

Below is what Chris Barsby and Darren Clayton had to say about the DJA.

Chris Barsby: No trotter has ever recorded back-to-back victories in the Darrell Alexander Memorial Trotting Championship Final.

Star performer Our Overanova is a dual winner but recorded his victories years apart, the Grant Dixon prepared gelding scored in 2014 before claiming the feature again in 2017. Amazingly, the veteran lines up again this weekend, his fifth final after contesting the past seven series.

On Saturday night, he starts as the back marker off a 30m handicap in the 2647m feature. Trainer Dixon has won the event five times since it was first staged back in 2008 at the famed Parklands complex. It was moved to its current home of Albion Park in 2013 following the unfortunate closure of the Gold Coast.

The Gr.2 $30,770 event has drawn together an excellent and capacity sized field, 14 runners will be vying for the prize on offer.

Defending champion Wee Man Trouble looms as a superb chance of rewriting history. His slashing efforts in both rounds of heats haven't gone unnoticed and will carry plenty of support.

Last year, the former New Zealand gelding was prepared by Grant Dixon and handled by Adam Sanderson when starting off the frontline in the Gr.1 feature but owing the COVID-19 pandemic, this year's event has dropped back to Gr.2 level.

Wee Man Trouble is now prepared by owner Shannon Price with Sanderson sticking solid, the five-year-old must overcome a 10m handicap if he is to become the first back to back winner.

But former Victorian BD Khaosan also carries an army of supporters.

Purchased by SKY Racing personality Brittany Graham specifically for this series, the gelding has shaped up nicely in both heats to date.

A first-up victory over 2647m was followed by an excellent second (behind Gee Up Neddy) last week over the shorter 2138m trip.

The talented trotter is prepared by Brittany's father Darrel.

"When he first arrived, we had a few issues with him and he was behind the eight ball, but he came out and won his opening heat and then went another good race last week," Graham said. "The draw on paper doesn't look good but it's a really open race and luck in running is going to be crucial. You can't go into this race with a single plan, we've got a great driver and he's adaptable and so is the horse so I'm really looking forward to it."

The Graham family enjoyed success earlier this year during the winter carnival when another former Victorian trotter Il Pirata scored in the Gr.3 $25,770 Queensland Trotters Cup at Albion Park.

And driver Shane Graham (no relation) is a previous winner of the DJA Final when combining with King Of Strathfield back in 2012.

TAB fixed odds markets have Wee Man Trouble as favourite at $4.60 ahead of Majestic Simon ($6) and BD Khaosan ($7).

The 2020 Darrell Alexander Memorial Trotting Championship is Race 4 on the 10-race card and is scheduled to start at 7.17pm.

Albion Park action gets underway at 5.42pm.

Darren Clayton: Queensland's signature event for square gaiters - the Darrell Alexander Memorial - will be run this coming Saturday night; with the 14 finalists decided after six heats.

There were five winners of the six heats - Our Overanova, BD Khaosan, Musculus and Majestic Simon, with Gee Up Neddy the only finalist to claim victory in both heats he contested. However, if Neddy is to claim victory in the Group 2 Final, he will need to overcome history.

The 2020 edition will be the 14th running of the DJA and in the previous 13 renewals, no trotter has been able to win both heat rounds and the Final. But this year has been a year like no other in so many ways, so will this be the year that a trotter can sweep the series?

Gee Up Neddy has certainly found form at the right time to make it a reality, and from the 10-metre handicap combined with his great manners, has the chance to rewrite history.

Marburg track records

THE Marburg track is on fire, as noted by Andrew Whitehead, the harness handicapper for Racing Queensland.

First and foremost for context, the overall 1850m track record is to the credit of Jewel of Peak - 1.56.8 set in October last year.

The low hanging fruit record is of course the 2yo we haven't had many such races there but Straytothepoolroom now holds that at 2.02.9.

Then there is the 3yo track record, which given it was set in the 15th month of the racing season certainly gives Voodoo Fella an age advantage over his predecessors but its in his name now at 1.58.4

The one that has grabbed my attention however is Jonah's Hutchinson's 20 start maiden setting the new 4yo mares mark at 1.57.8.

Gina showed good gate speed and high cruising speed running the third quarter in 28.3. She only trundled home in 29.8 but given the runner up was 73 metres astern wasn't asked to give a lot up the straight.

She must have met some real nice types in her first 20 starts down in NSW, Jonah has transformed her.

Exciting development

WATCH this space next week, as it seems likely that our South Australian cousins are about to find a new lease of life.

Fifty years ago with the opening of Globe Derby Park, which had a strong breeding industry, based on Globe Derby and Raider bloodlines in their broodmare band, appeared set for a boom cycle.

For whatever reason, this did not eventuate and we have watched half a century of mediocre performance.

The newly appointed Chair of Harness Racing SA, George Fiacchi, is a low profile doer, not a star struck dreamer.

If he gets the support he deserves, we will see a different and attractive product, taking the light harness sport forward into a bright future.

Honour board

THE drivers totem pole is swaying in the breeze with Pete McMullen at the top on seven wins for the week. His sister Taleah was three rungs down at four wins and climbing hard.

Most of the training success came from outside the footprint but Melissa Gillies and Chantal Turpin put in game efforts to lead in a pair of winners each for the week.

Most pleasing was Nesters Hill, trained at Marburg by Peter Mackay with Taleah McMullen in the sulky, and Melissa's duo.

Ipswich factor: 25/54.

Albion Park, November 20: Jasson (Steve Doherty for Mal Charlton); Onlys Best (Pete McMullen for Murray Thomas); Matau Jess (Pete McMullen for Steve Borg); Captain Cosmonaut (Trent Dawson).

Albion Park, November 21: Major Mucha (Danielle McMullen for Travis Mackay); Lisa Lincoln (Paul Diebert for Melissa Gillies); Itz My Generation (Angus Garrard for Darrell Graham); Majestic Simon (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin); Blacks A Dance (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin); Gee Up Neddy (Hayden Barnes).

Marburg, November 22: Clares Fool (Ben Battle for Peter Jones); Gosling In Flight (Taleah McMullen); Voodoo Fella (Jordan Topping for Dave Russell); Ima Beach Babe (Pete McMullen for Peter Greig); Adreniline Rush (Pete McMullen for Graham Dwyer); Lorimer Lady (Pete McMullen for Peter Greig).

Albion Park, November 24: Ignite (Paul Diebert for Denis Smith); Woodlands Rose (Paul Diebert for Melissa Gillies); Elms Creek (Taleah McMullen for Ron Sallis).

Redcliffe, November 25: Highview Freddie (Danielle Veivers for Ryan Veivers); Maywyns Jewel (Kelli Dawson).

Redcliffe, November 26: Arma Augustus (Taleah McMullen for Trent Lathaby); Nesters Hill (Taleah McMullen for Peter Mackay); Ali Downunder (Ben Battle for Mal Charlton); Speeechcraft (Matt Elkins for Greg Elkins).

Handy tips

SELECTION for Saturday night (first night of the Summer Carnival).

R1: Box trifecta 1-12-8: Johnny White (S Graham)-Sparkling Cullect (A Sanderson)-Casino Tommy (N Dawson).

R2: Box trifecta 5-6-11: Courageous Saint (D Graham)-Speedy Dominic (P Diebert)-Ideal World (T McMullen).

R3: Quinella 3-13: Mister Cole (P Diebert) and Governor Jujon (G Dixon).

R4: Box trifecta 13-8-14: Northern Muscle (P Diebert)-BD Khaosan (S Graham)-Majestic Simon (P McMullen).

R5: E/w 12: Jiggle And Jive (N Dawson).

R6: box trifecta 4-8-12: Major Fernco (P McMullen)-Colby (N McMullen)-Straddie (A Garrard).

R7: Box trifecta 1-5-10: One Change (S Graham)-Colt Thirty One (G Dixon)-Nurburgring (N McMullen).

R8: Quinella 2-3: Lisa Lincoln (P Diebert) and Pelosi (John Cremin).

R9: Box trifecta 2-5-10: My Ultimate Heston (L Manzelmann)-Dance In The Sun (P McMullen)-Manila Playboy (K Dawson).

R10: Quinella 2-10: Mademoiselle Jujon (G Dixon) and Just Joshin (N Dawson).