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

Elkins family on the way up


HARNESS racing in Australia has often been described as a family sport with offspring following their parents into the game.

Many such involvements are in their third and sometimes fourth generation. Here in the Ipswich footprint, we have yet another such dynasty on the rise.

Based at Calvert, the Elkins family is well and truly on the way.

Father Greg, turning 61 next month, has 40 years "hands on" experience, all of it here in Queensland after moving from Victoria.

His stats are impressive having driven 175 winners and 468 placings while training no less than 340 with 834 placings.

There are two sons in the pipeline.

Matt, who is fully employed in the home stable, has greeted the judge on 250 occasions while placing a further 650 times.

The youngest member is Justin, who is getting on the board with 10 wins and 29 placings from a small number of drives.

The horse numbers rarely exceed the current tally of 15 of which 10 are actively racing at this time, a very high percentage indeed.

Greg Elkins is not particularly happy with the state of harness in Queensland at present, declaring that races are programmed with too many conditions, especially barrier draws based on "dollars earned in last three or six starts. This he says, guarantees that an honest horse, racing consistently, is assured of an unfavourable draw in many races.

On this principle he does not nominate on many occasions, preferring to stay home rather than go round with no realistic chance of earning.

Held together on the home front by Lynn, "Team Elkins" is far enough up the ladder to weather most storms.

Expect them to be around for a long time to come.

Upset threat in rich series

TONIGHT at Melton Victoria, all the big questions asked in the past fortnight will be answered.

In the Trotters Inter-Dominion Grand Final, the No 1 barrier falling to Speeding Spur, tends to equalise the anticipated head to head contest with $1.60 favourite Tornado Valley, which will start from gate six.

The same factor improves the chances of Save Our Pennys, Big Jack Hammer, and Kyvalley Blur.

By the same token, there are no mugs in this field. A mistake by any of the top five can change the whole outcome.

In the pacers Grand final, it is hard to go past the Purdon/ Rasmussen pair Spankem and Cruz Bromac. They have dominated in the series and barrier draws appear to be of little consequence, both having the ability to make their own luck.

The most likely upset may come from the No 1 horse, Galactic Star.

The usual but peculiar discrimination that exists between the lateral and diagonal gaits exists here.

On a night when HRV is distributing $915,000, the pacers Grand Final is of $500,00 and the Trotters, who, after all, founded the sport and the breed, do battle for $150,000. Strange but true.

Christmas meeting at Marburg

CHRISTMAS is just 10 days away, but you can have a sneak preview of Santa Claus at Marburg tomorrow week.

The gentleman in the red suit is likely to make his entry and departure on the back of the mobile barrier, but the goodwill, and, importantly, the lollies, are sure to be in the festive tradition.

The happy folk of the Marburg Pacing Association will be serving up a strong card of country harness racing on December 23.

There will be a $100 free bet voucher for some lucky racegoer, drawn after Race 1.

The pick The Last Six Winners Jackpot is up to $2100, and your $500 "funny money" is in the racebook.

There are 20 prizes in the Leukaemia Foundation raffle, and the ever popular petting zoo for the kids.

Check out the Mini trotters and Pat A Pony, always a hit with kids and adults alike make Marburg trots affordable family entertainment.

Admission is adults $5, members and pensioners $3 and race books $3.

Come and get close up to the speed and excitement on the 700 metre circuit.

Gates open at 11am.

Handy tips

SELECTIONS for Albion Park tonight.

R1: Box trifecta 1-6-8: Shards Halo (B Barnes)-Vettel (T Dawson)-Clintal Do (N Dawson).

R2: Box trifecta 1-2-8: Ranfurly Rulz (J McCarthy)-Mark Of Integrity-Squire (R Morris).

R3: Box trifecta 1-6-8: Duke Of Albany-Classy Guy-Comply Or Die (N McMullen).

R4: Quinella 1-8: Eleniark (G Dixon) and Admiral Bronski (T Dawson).

R5: Quinella 1-8: Nerio (B Barnes) and Rich Virgin (T Dawson).

R6: First four 2-3-4-12: Astral Ruler (T Dixon)-Monaro Mia (D Hancock)-Miracle rising (G Dixon)-Needle (G Whitaker).

R7: Quinella 1-8: Aqua Miss T Dixon) and Fame Assured (G Dixon).

R8: First four 2-4-7-13: Glenferrie Hood (P McMullen)-Bodhi Tree (L Cain)-Ohoka Punter (A Donohoe)-Colt Thirty One (G Dixon).

R9: Box trifecta 2-4-5: Im Norma Jean (P McMullen)-Trilight Brigade (G Dixon)-Farrah Fowler (B Barnes).

R10: Box trifecta in four 1-6-9-10: Honey Please (G Whitaker)-Red River Debba (L Weidemann)-Justabitcoco (D Lee)-Mister Oz (G Dixon).

Honour board

Narissa McMullen lights up the driver's side of the leader board this week, her rate of 300 coming from six wins. Closest were Matt Elkins and Nathan Dawson, each rating 200 from four wins apiece. Top trainer for the first time was Greg Elkins with a blistering four winners at Marburg, nosing out Ron Sallis, ever consistent on three.

Most pleasing were the emergence of Newmerella Mollie as a serious talent for "Team Towns" and the six winners at Marburg, all hailing from Calvert, for Warren Hinze, Ray Cross and Greg Elkins. Maybe, the Fernvale/Brisbane Valley hoodoo is broken.

Albion Park, December 7: Werelivingthedream (Nathan Dawson for Peter Greig); Vettel (Trent Dawson); Comply Or Die (Narissa McMullen for Ron Sallis); Taxi Meter (Matt Elkins for Donny Smith); Wattlebank Flyer (Gary Whitaker for Bianca Hooper).

Albion Park, December 8: Battleborn (Nathan Dawson for Trevor Lambourn); Franco Totem (Jacob Wallace for Darrell Graham); Sports Bounty (Matt Elkins forDarren Elder).

Marburg, December 9: Inciter (Greg Elkins); Newmerella Mollie (Brett Towns for Max Towns); Honey Please (Matt Elkins for Ray Cross); Under The Kilt (Leonard Cain for Warren Hinze); Takitimu Express (Greg Elkins); Crowning Glory (Narissa McMullen for Greg Elkins); Jumping Jolt (Matt Elkins for Greg Elkins).

Albion Park, December 11: Left A Terror (Adam Richardson for Chris Monte); Caesars Astrum (Pete McMullen for Richard Hutchinson); Tom Me Gun (Narissa McMullen).

Redcliffe, December 12: Chirpy Chuckles (Pete McMullen for Ron Sallis); Tuesdays Fella (Kelli Dawson for Trevor Lambourn); Colombian Gold (Gary Whitaker for Gary Gerrard); Annas Best (Narissa McMullen for John McMullen); Idle Hands Nathan Dawson for Troy Williams); Cowgirl Chick (Dannielle McMullen for Ryan Veivers); Scott Tom (Narissa McMullen for Mick Benham).

Redcliffe, December 13: Our Doug (Gary Whitaker for Mark Lichtwark); Montana Chief (Darrell Graham); Franco Tariq (Nathan Dawson for Donny Smith); Springfield Spirit (Narissa McMullen for Ron Sallis).