Picture: Rob Williams
Picture: Rob Williams

Farewell to two great men of Queensland racing


LIFE as we know it is a cycle of birth life and death.

For some it is a struggle. For others, the road is paved with good fortune.

All we are certain of is that life is short. Do as much with it as you can for there is no recycling.

Why so grim? Simply that last week harness racing lost two trainer/drivers who had been prominent in North Queensland.

In Townsville to be precise, the place which Racing Queensland has told us recently and repeatedly, has no place in the sport’s foreseeable future.

Kerry Smith, who moved to the “Great South East” some years back, enjoyed considerable success with the likes of Annika Magic.

Annika Magic last greeted the judge on July 13, rounding off a career which featured her going round on 154 occasions for 25 wins 26 seconds and 24 thirds banking a hefty $197,191 on the way.

Projectile, a winner of $70,602, was successful at his last start at Redcliffe in August.

Wandary Splash, Elliott Bromac and Billy Badlands were others that spring to mind.

It is no easy thing to up stakes and move to a different area. However, 76 year old Kerry Smith, who will be going home to his final resting place in Townsville, made the transition in fine style.

Ill health cut Kerry down, while he still had much to offer. The impression he left will be a lasting one.

Older participants and fans will remember Ron Krogh from the early days of the stallion-based Triad Series with its rounds of $5000 heats run as far up as Townsville.

When hobby trainers in the south would take their juveniles on an annual leave trek north, hoping to meet easier opposition, they would often find crocodiles on the race tracks at Rocky and Townsville. Often Ron was in the sulky.

Ron’s trademark was the turn out. The Krogh pacers went out to do battle with high degree of polish, fit and ready for the fray. He is best remembered here for the chestnut Bold Matthew, 67 starts for 18 wins and 12 placings earning $28,608 and a mile rate of 1-59.9, and Another Saint, a son of Able Bye Bye.

Both men were ornaments to the game. They live on in the memories of their peers.

Hopes for fairer deal

THE festive season brings with it hope, particularly at the bottom of the harness pyramid. I hope that all battlers who went through 2019 with few winners, and, perhaps none, see a turnaround in their on track fortunes.

With drought and fire causing drops in feed production and the resultant market forces pushing fodder prices and Joe Average owners’ and trainers’ expenses through the roof, the need to defray costs has never been more pressing.

It has become incumbent on Racing Queensland to address the situation in positive fashion.

It appears that we have a very small horse pool.

It is doubtful that it will grow through the purchase of new stock if the bottom of the pyramid cannot be given the opportunity to win races which carry viable prizemoney.

What is needed is a total remake of programming so that apples compete against apples every time they go round, and provides evidence that if they become oranges they have won their way there.

As to the mangoes at the top of the tree, who have won their money in many cases while competing against apples during a number of life cycles, they must race only other mangoes, and ideally on a once weekly basis.

If you think that is harsh, try breeding and rearing a pacer of moderate ability and racing it as a 3yo under the current system. Then you will know what hardship is.

Let us hope that 2020 brings a fairer deal for the recreational punter and the hobbyist participants.

Handy tips

SELECTIONS for Albion Park tonight.

R1: Box trifecta 4-5-12: Beaver (T Dawson)-Clarry (N Dawson)-Dream to Share (A Sanderson).

R2: Quinella 4-8: Colonel Joy (A Richardson) and Flying Wingard (N McMullen).

R3: Quinella 2-6: Random Task (N Dawson) and Tulhurst Santanna (A Richardson).

R4: Quinella 2-6: Our Bondi Beach (N Dawson) and Big Bang Leonard (A Sanderson).

R5: E/w 8: Mister Decorum (R Gorman).

R6: First four 9-8-5-10: Northern Muscle (A Richardson)-Miracle Rising (T Dixon)-Quietly Spoken (N McMullen)-Maybe To The Max (H Barnes).

R7: E/w 1: Platinum Roulette (T Lethaby).

R8: E/w 5: Cherrys The Best (G Dixon).

Honour board

THE leader board on the driver’s side takes us back to the 1700’s in English gallops. One outstanding performance drew the quote: “Eclipse first and the rest nowhere”. Our comparison was Pete McMullen six, Taleah McMullen and Adam Sanderson two apiece.

In the training department, Chantal Turpin led in four of the best, nosing out Ron Sallis in the winner’s circle on three occasions. Ipswich factor: 19/35.

Albion Park, December 20: Mr Gunsen (Trent Moffat for Kay Crone); Major Currency (Nathan Dawson for Ron Sallis); Colonel Joy (Pete McMullen for Richard Hutchinson).

Albion Park, December 21: Tin Roof Raider (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin); Big Bang Leonard (Adam Sanderson for Stephanie Graham); Wee Man Trouble (Adam Sanderson for Grant Dixon).

Marburg, December 22: Franco Neveah (Ben Battle for Kay Crone); Bambole Nere (Matt Elkins for David Rodger Jnr); Radar Hill (Ricky Gordon); Studleigh Will (Taleah McMullen for John McMullen); Guts (Danielle McMullen for John McMullen); Ruato Bay (Lachie Manzelmann for Ron Sallis).

Albion Park, December 24: Als Law (Pete McMullen for Richard Hutchinson); Wheres The Spirit (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin); Blacksadance (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin); Eulo Flyer (Taleah McMullen for Dale Belford); Miss Ruby Sunshine (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin); Major Currency (Nathan Dawson for Ron Sallis); Big Bang Leonard (Brittany Graham for Stephanie Graham).