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

Friendly Dawn will be missed in Marburg family



MARBURG lost one of its strongest supporters when Dawn McPhee was taken suddenly late last week.

The widow of former association president Campbell McPhee, Dawn was a prominent member of what might have been described as the Marburg Women's Guild, a tightknit group of ladies who would take up a table in the canteen area and spend the entire race meeting in an earnest group discussion.

Dawn, however, was easily lured away for such tasks as raffle ticket selling, at which she was very effective.

She was friendly, loved a yak, loved a drink, and was just beginning to realise that life does not need to end when you lose a partner.

Dawn McPhee, with Joy and Daniel in support, and her granddaughters Hannah and Emily well on their way through the mini-trotter experience, was part of the Marburg canvas.

Her passing leaves a hole, and we will miss her terribly.

Class act Jack

ONE that slipped under the radar last week was the passing of Jack Kelly, a long-serving steward with the Queensland Harness Racing Board.

Prior to moving to the Sunshine State, Jack was a well known small team trainer in Sydney where he supplemented his harness income with regular shifts as a taxi driver.

"Flash Jack", as he was known in the game, was renowned for the polish he put upon himself and his horses.

He was an every Friday night starter where the two stable mainstays, Perfect Sky and Brilliant Sky, would have their weekly hit-out with the driver arrayed in the red and black diamonds.

The two geldings were regular placegetters, which in the mid sixties meant a solid income stream.

The horses he trained up here were not in that class, with Oscar Adios being perhaps the best of them.

The lack of a regular Saturday night horse led to a steward's job.

The ambience was the same, just the other side of the stipendiary table.

I believe Jack was 93 years when he died, emulating his father Goran Kelly who was well in his nineties when he passed.

Jack was well liked in both his roles.

He was a class act on the race track, and was a firm but understanding steward, having been both sides of the fence.

He was a lover of horses and enjoyed yarning about them.

National Ratings review

REMEMBER our dual code owners from a few weeks back?

These two people are looking at the equine codes with fresh eyes and are well able to distinguish the forest from the trees.

This week they have the National Ratings for harness under the microscope, and have uncovered several glaring anomalies, which make the system less than workable.

In the first instance, they examine the "band assessment".

Seriously these band or what-ever races need to be stopped, especially when they impose RBD's, and yet looking at the ratings of the horses, there is a vast disadvantage, proportioned by the ratings of runners.

Yet because it's a Band 5, that makes it fair and square for all participant. That's incredibly wrong by any measure of a fair and just handicapping system.

In thoroughbred racing, to which we are also aligned, obviously the Handicap rating in most races will dictate what weight the horse shall carry.

That component does not exist in harness racing. So, unless all runners are equally rated, the only fair and equitable solution left is to handicap those said runners by mobile draw.

This leads to bizarre practices such as the "seeded" barrier draw, where "random" goes out the window and the handicapper applies his skills by marrying the barriers in order of statistical advantage to the runners of lesser ability in order to create an even field.

Worse still is the practice of writing several "conditions" into the parameters of the barrier draw process, which generally results in a total disaster from a recreational punting perspective, or a $1.10 standout.

Now you tell us one good reason why we shouldn't take our horses and our investments south of the border, when you factor that in most events we are handicapped by competition and/or draw, racing in Queensland with our Standardbreds.

I am certain there would be many other owners like us that have either vacated already or are thinking the same, given the current system in place.

As for addressing the long term or born into participants, if that's the resistance to change, I would be asking them: "Do you want a sustainable and prosperous future encouraging growth through new ownership, or are you happy to remain stagnant, and watch from the sidelines as other racing industries grow from strength to strength around you?"

Two things come from the above.

If, in the gallops, rating dictates the weight, then by application of a "Local Rule" here in Queensland, a set numerical value can be used to define class.

Using the stand start for the trotter as our example and five rating points as our 10 metre differential, we could program as follows: T0 front 40 points, T1 45 points 10m, T2 50 points 20m, T3 55 points 30m, T4 60 points 40m.

Next grade T5 front 65 points, T6 70 points 10m, T7 75 points 20m, T8 80 points 30m, T9 85 points 40m and so on.

Mobiles same numerical value but no more than two classes per race, random barrier draw within class.

Handy tips

Selections for Redcliffe tonight.

R1: Quinella 1-7: Getarattleon (T McMullen) and Random Task (N Dawson).

R2: Quinella 2-3: Whats The Catch (P Diebert) and Rory Mach (A Sanderson).

R3: Quinella 2-5: Chapter One (P Diebert) and Always In Command (N Dawson).

R4: Box trifecta 2-1-7: Cupcakesanwhippedcream (C Geary)-Goalkicker (J Cremin)-Annas Best (K Dawson).

R5: Box trifecta 1-4-10: Casino Tommy (N Dawson)-Clintal Do (D March)-Dream To Share (A Sanderson).

R6: E/w 4: Makora (A Sanderson).

R7: Box trifecta 1-4-7: Charming Major (B Barnes)-Seeuinnashville (C Geary)-Recipe For Dreaming (C Rauchenburger).

R8: E/w 3: Its Allabout Alice (T Moffat).

R9: Quinella 3-8: Justabitnoisy (C Geary) and Our Overanova (A Sanderson).

Honour board

Adam Sanderson hangs in at the top of the leader board for drivers with four wins. In hot pursuit, Pete McMullen scored on three occasions.

Chantal Turpin was best training effort out this way with three victories to her credit. Most pleasing was Mark Rees training a race-to-race double at Redcliffe on the first day of the month.

Ipswich factor: 21/42.

Redcliffe, November 1: Kay Nora Shannon (Codi Rauchenberger for Mark Rees); Ale Ale Kai (Narissa McMullen for Mark Rees); Rory Mach (Adam Sanderson); Celtic Cruza (Justin Elkins for Donny Smith).

Redcliffe, November 2: Dream To Share (Adam Sanderson); Cupcakesanwhippedcream (Chris Geary for Brian McCall); Miracle Rising (Adam Sanderson for Grant Dixon).

Marburg, November 3: Reddy Fire (Paul Matis); Headwin (Trent Moffat for Allan Godwin); Guts (Taleah McMullen for John McMullen); Stevie Dee (Adam Sanderson for Alex Johnstone); Dollar Bill (Adam Richardson for Kay Crone).

Redcliffe, November 6: Riverleigh Jeff (Justin Elkins for Tess Neaves); Social Media (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin); Mach Torque (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin).

Redcliffe, November 7: My Secret Torque (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin); Maywyn A Jug Ortwo (Kelli Dawson); Rory Mach (Adam Sanderson).