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

Marburg promotes optimism as support grows



THAT was the year that was 2018.

Out Marburg way, we saw a number of interesting events.

At Easter, the Marburg Pacing Association (MPA) was subject of a TAB/RQ experiment when the Easter Sunday Fun Day meeting went into the pubs, clubs and lounge rooms of Australia via SKY 2.

At the same time, we drew a pleasing 1200 people on course, whose punting requirements were covered by a portable TOTE van and two bookmakers.

Several more successful "trial" meetings convinced Racing Queensland (RQ) that Marburg had something to offer, and the MPA was elevated to Tier 2 status.

In simple terms, that means a club hosting in excess of 12 TAB meetings per year.

It also means, in simple terms, a club whose financial picture changes dramatically for the better.

If the MPA gets the mooted 26 meetings per year there will be considerable cash available to do the things that all clubs in that position should do.

Provision of better facilities for participants and public alike, better maintenance of equipment, much higher promotion budget, and part paid positions to relieve some of the stress on long-time volunteers who have kept the club afloat for many years, expecting no reward, and getting nothing but the satisfaction of a job well done.

Readers must understand however that this extra cash does not come without strings.

Along with Tier 2 status, RQ Club Compliance requirements include a monthly financial report that covers the smallest item of income and expenditure so no one be concerned about the destination of the monies.

RQ will give it and MPA will spend it, in the best interests of Ipswich area harness.

On the matter of sponsorship, the MPA has had a marvellous year.

All our regular sponsors are still with us and we have picked up two others in Oakwood Capital, and feed giant Barastoc, both of whom have come on board at Easter.

We sincerely thank them all, as sponsorship,again, provides cash or goods which can underpin a club's operation in many ways while generating goodwill within our racing community.

Never to be underestimated is the support that Marburg receives week in week out from The Queensland Times. No one could put a price on it.

2018 was a year of surprises, most of them pleasant.

We must hope that 2019 is a year of consolidation, when we make permanent and improve, the ground we have gained.

May we all wake up on next Wednesday morning, with an optimistic view of our immediate future in harness.

Valuable lessons from 'Golden Age'

THINGS were different then.

A snapshot from the "Golden Age" of trotting when we did not have "wall to wall" racing by all three codes on a 24/7 basis.

When we did not have instant communications, and something that happened half an hour ago was not old news.

What we did have in harness was a massive following, a fan base that thronged to the tracks to watch trotting under lights, enthralled by the sparkle of chrome spokes and rims, and the glitter of polished brass fittings on highly polished leather harness.

A night at the trots was the equivalent of Christmas lights travelling at high speed on wheels and legs.

Nobody boasted stats of a thousand winners in less than a decade.

The following West Australian trainer/driver was an established Superstar from that golden era, when a win meant a great deal more than a bank transfer of prizemoney.

Bernie Cushing was born on January 5, 1919 and died in 1988.

In a career shortened by six years of service with the AIF during the Second World War, he put together one of the best records as a trainer and driver seen in this state.

He drove 524 winners (341 in Perth) and trained 570 winners (348 in Perth) including three WA Pacing Cup winners in Robert Sheen, Defiance and Daintys Daughter.

I saw Bernie in action at Harold Park in the 1960's. He was the real deal, make no mistake.

There, possibly, lies part of reason for our present somewhat depressed state.

None of the decision makers in our sport today have much of an idea where we came from; or, if they do, they don't care.

If they knew, they might re-trace their steps and avoid going round in circles.

Handy tips

SELECTIONS for Albion Park tonight.

R1: E/w 1: Clintal Do (D March).

R2: Box trifecta 1-2-4: Parisian Rockstar (A Richardson)-Everything (T Dixon)-Soho Shanghai (A Donohoe).

R3: E/w 11: Our Major Day (D March).

R4: Quinella 2-3: Fiery Blue Chip (T McMullen) and Maretti (L Weidemann).

R5: Box trifecta 2-4-10: The Space Invader (N McMullen)-Bodhi Tree (L Cain)-Glenferrie Hood (P McMullen).

R6: E/w 3: RocknRoll Music (S Doherty).

R7: E/w 4: Cold Ideal (A Richardson).

R8: First four : 6-7-10-11: Spud (C Cini)-Maybe To The Max (H Barnes)-Needle (G Whitaker)-Our Overanova (G Dixon).

R9: Quinella 1-8: Valtona (G Dixon) and RocknRoll Emma (T Dixon).

R10: Box trifecta 123 : Live In Style (N Chalk)-Midnight Bender (T McMullen)-Village Cruiser (S Doherty).

Honour board

Just like Santa is based at the North Pole, so the epicentre of Ipswich harness responds to the gravitational pull of the lower Brisbane Valley. The leader board's top driver was again Pete McMullen with a massive 400 rating from eight wins, which include two trebles. Hayden Barnes and Matt Elkins managed half that total to rate a respectable 200 apiece. High point trainers were Chantal Turpin and Ron Sallis, each leading in three winners. Most pleasing was Monterey Jack for Willowbank-based Colin Knox. "Jack" got the Christmas ducks with Matt Elkins in the sulky.

Albion Park, December 22: NuiToc Tien (Matt Elkins for Trevor Lambourn); Kotare York (Hayden Barnes for Alistair Barnes); Change Of Mind (Pete McMullen for Shane Sanderson); Glenferrie Hood (Pete McMullen for Wayne Graham); Corey William (Pete McMullen for Peter Greig); Slice Of Heaven (Reece Maguire for Donny Smith); Maybe To The Max (Hayden Barnes for Ron Sallis).

Marburg, December 23: Getinanhangon (Adam Richardson for Tim Gillespie); If You Believe (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin); Stoned Again (Clint Petroff); Ima Top Tycoon (Taleah McMullen for Ryan Veivers); Circle Line ( Matt Elkins for Ron Wells).

Albion Park, December 24: Jossie James (Adam Sanderson for Wayne Graham); Ghent (Pete McMullen for Lisa Bahr); Johnnycake (Adam Richardson for Steve Coombs); Someexcusesomewhere (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin); Morroch Boy (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin); Crowning Glory (Narissa McMullen for Greg Elkins).

Redcliffe, December 26: Rowdys Ace (Kelli Dawson for John McMullen); Bangkok Bravado (Kelli Dawson for Shane Fraser); Famous Shoes (Pete McMullen for Dale Belford).

Redcliffe, December 27: Im Free Falling (Taleah McMullen for Ron Sallis); Sheza Galvinator (Hayden Barnes for Mark McNee); Whately (Dale Chalk for Darren Ebert); Monterey Jack (Matt Elkins for Colin Knox); Lifes Black (Hayden Barnes for Mark McNee); Gotothemoon (Matt Elkins for Donny Smith); Springfield Spirit (Taleah McMullen for Ron Sallis).