Picture: AAP Image/David Clark
Picture: AAP Image/David Clark

Share in first of three exciting Marburg meetings


Denis Smith

THE merry month of May is upon us, the last month of autumn, and for the Marburg folk, one of the busiest.

Three meetings are planned to enjoy.

The Marburg Pacing Association starts the trifecta with Labour Day on Monday, presenting a solid eight race card. Racing starts at 12.27pm.

All the regular features will be on the go including exciting country harness, country style burgers and other tasty items, home made desserts, amazing prices on beverage and other cold drinks.

There's the "funny money" bookmaker for all those who love a punt but can't really afford to lose.

The $3 race book gets you $500 and an entry form for "Pick the last seven winners".

There is $2000 to be split between the winner or winners.

Just fill out the card and put it in the box before the start of the second race.

The TAB will be up and running for the punters big and small, and there will be supervised activities for the kids.

Sadly, no mini-trotters but they will be back on the Sundays, May 16 and 23.

Admission is adults $5, members and pensioners $3. Kids under 16 free.

Gates open 11am.

Harness family values

THE following article is aimed at portraying thoroughbred racing as a desirable business, with which to be associated, and the need for the harness trainers and drivers to lift their "front of house" game.

The mechanics of both equine codes of racing are identical as both breeds are trained to race against their genetic equals in order to determine winners and placegetters. By this determination, to distribute prizemoney in descending amounts.

The gallops, which commands the lion's share of the punting dollar and accordingly attracts higher costs for the owners, has always been seen as the sport or pastime of the wealthy.

Because of the dollar factor it more easily assumes the mantle of business for the trainers and their employees.

Harness, however, because of the previous proliferation of the owner/trainer/driver and his family was more acceptable as a sport.

The tide has turned in the last two decades, and harness administrators across Australia, are intent on starving the 'hobbyists" to death in order to ape the gallops.

They would be far better to concentrate on keeping the little guys in the game.

Encouraging new faces from outside the established stars, and racing under a "punter friendly" format. Currently, harness in Australia needs a massive injection of participants, not a tightly knit group of megastars. Domination, in any walk of life, is never any good.

Some thoughts on the professionalism, or lack of it, displayed by some harness trainers towards their owners, as compared to the smooth and cultured experience experienced by the folks who pay the bills in the thoroughbred world.

These thoughts belong to Mick Guerin, a high profile Kiwi trots presenter, form analyst, tipster and journalist, who recently visited Sydney after 13 months "locked down" in his native land.

While I was there I went to Randwick, and this is not a column about thoroughbred racing being better than harness racing, because it is not.

It is just different. I had a decent look around because I love knowing how any business runs and my number one takeaway from the whole day was the standard of communication from the jockeys and trainers with their owners.

Straight after a $1 million race but with $2 million next up, here were all the jockeys talking over the fence (because they are in a race day bubble) to the trainers and almost all the trainers were filming the comments on their phone. And not some assistant getting paid to do it, the actual trainers, blokes like Cairon Maher, who you might think was too busy for all that.

Here were superstars of the thoroughbred world using their phones to record messages undoubtedly sent to the owners of the horses minutes later.

Later I imagined myself in my living room in Taree or Boort, Hobart or Hamilton sitting there with the family getting my WhatsApp or email of Craig Williams telling me how my one per cent share in my Randwick runner went. And I imagined that felt pretty cool. Like I was part of something.

Now I know the money in the gallops is way bigger, but if a bloke like Maher can do this on race day for his owners can't everybody? Can't you?

Some of you may say you know your owners and they prefer a call after the races, and so be it. But you can do both. And others will say their owners don't need it or they don't know much about that sort of technology.

OK, maybe your owners don't need it, but when they are sitting in the pub next to their mate who is getting those messages from trainers, maybe your owner will think, "gee, that would be nice".

And if you use the excuse you don't know about all that stuff, well, trainers spend hours studying feeding regimes, shoeing and sales catalogues.

Why not 30 minutes learning how to talk to your owners, tell them what they bought for their training fees With syndication becoming the future of racing it is even more important and while harness racing can't beat galloping in many areas, there is absolutely no reason we can't compete in the communication game.

If you have a phone, you can do it. I know some harness racing trainers are already doing this, which is more reason you should because you are now competing against them too for owners.

Of course maybe I am wrong, maybe I was drunk on the thrill of the big day on Saturday and people don't really care about that stuff. But I was sitting at the airport on Monday, returning home to quarantine-free New Zealand (God bless it) and got a WhatsApp message from a horse breaker I barely know.

It was a video of a yearling I bought two weeks ago being broken in.

It was 30 seconds of a horse at least 12 months away from racing doing basically nothing with a guy talking in the background. I watched it four times.

The trainer I was sitting next to at the airport watched it twice. I sent it to my brother, he watched it. It took the breaker 30 seconds, it made my day.

Whether you choose to do that for your owners is entirely up to you.

Honour board

NOTHING exceptional on the driving board this week with Narissa McMullen on top, posting a modest tally of three wins. Trent Dawson and Ben Battle on two each.

John McMullen was top trainer with three of the best.

Most pleasing was Little Dee (Steve Towns).

Ipswich factor: 21/48.

Albion Park, April 23: Maywyns Jewel (Kelli Dawson); Maffioso Girl (Matt Elkins for Greg Elkins); Little Dee (Shane Graham for Steve Towns).

Albion Park, April 24: Blacks A Dance (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin); Our Uncle Jim (Trent Dawson); Ragnarr (Narissa McMullen).

Albion Park, April 27: Gunner (Narissa McMullen for Steve Cini); Talent to Spare (Trent Dawson); Maywyn Troubador (Kelli Dawson for Geoff Dawson); Jumpin Jack Jimmy (Ben Battle for Mark Rees); Run Boy Run (Narissa McMullen for Chantal Turpin).

Redcliffe, April 28: Sir Bulski (Tim Gillespie); Hot Embers (Ben Battle for Ron Sallis); Artistic Sand (Dani Veivers for Ryan Veivers); Feel The Thrill (Chloe Butler for John McMullen); Manoflisa (Trent Moffat for Trent Hodges); Whata Reactor (Nathan Dawson for Warren Hinze); Brae Beach (Adam Sanderson for Darrell Graham ).

Redcliffe, April 29: Baileys With Legs (Taleah McMullen for John McMullen); Lanoch Boy (Nathan Dawson for Mitchell Dawson); Springfield Spirit (Justin Elkins for Ron Sallis).

Handy tips

SELECTIONS for Albion Park on Saturday night.

R1: Quinella 4-6: Underworked (J McCarthy) and Shortys Mate (R Thurlow).

 R2: Quinella 5-10: Will The Wizard (P McMullen) and Our Wall Street Wolf (B Barnes).

 R3: Quinella 1-10: Chiasso (P Diebert) and Twentyeight Black (N Dawson).

 R4: QuinellaBettys Gold Class (N Dawson) and Cat King Cole (K Rasmussen).

 R5: E/w 5: I Am Sparta (D Graham).

 R6: Quinella 1-8: Royal Aurora (C Butler) and Two Times Better (L Cain).

 R7: Quinella 1-8: Venus Jujon (C Petroff) and Bombardier Jujon (G Dixon).

 R8: Quinella 1-8: Ragnarr (N McMullen) and Mister Freeze (C Butler).

 R9: E/w 9: Gleneagle Warrior (S Graham).

 R10: E/w 5: Lilymadimac (S Graham).