True harness heroes deserve credit


IN our harness racing game, the emphasis is focused on drivers, often to the detriment of the true hero, the horse.

Generally little or no credit is afforded to the trainer and other folk who might appear in the four-legged star's resume throughout his or her career.

Occasionally the mould is broken, as happened last Sunday. The gelding Life's Black - owned by P Galvin and S Mauger, trained by Mark McNee and driven by Hayden Barnes - stopped the clock at a blistering 1-55.9, to become the outright track record holder at Redcliffe.

So much for the superficial factors involved and publicised.

McNee felt that more was needed to be said about the journey from paddock to training barn in this case.

Immediately, a name appeared, one so familiar among the older demographic of trainers in the south east, that it is difficult to imagine how the man has managed to maintain such a low profile.

It is, of course, Doug Massam, acknowledged expert in the art of educating the young trotting horse.

Doug and wife Beverly first encountered the pacers "hands on" at Cropper Creek in northern NSW where Doug had gone to drive grain trucks for a living.

Their first winner was a horse called Coffee Boy, which won at Inverell at its second or third start, beating the Paul Matis trained and driven Future Design.

The Massams were at Armidale for the opening of the track there and Doug was saddened to see his idol, Paleface Adios, beaten in a match race by Roma Hanover, a mare that later broke the Australian mile record at Redcliffe (1-57.4).

Doug proved to be no slouch in the sulky himself, winning a heat and final of the first Premier's Cup with Flintlock. At that time, it was run on the old Stephens Trotway at Southport, having won the 4yo championship with the same horse at the same track several weeks prior.

His best horse from the racing side was 25 times winner Running Frost, which won on both the right hand 800 metre and the left hand 1000 metre (current) versions of Albion Park.

Some 38 years ago, "team Massam" purchased a 200acre ex-dairy farm at Forest Hill near Gatton.

New owners came from the local farming community, and, in due course, there was modest call for breaking and educating, which steadily became the mainstay of the business.

At the peak the usual throughput of fully educated youngsters ran in excess of 50 a year.

Clients included Kevin Thomas, Stan Fife, Bobby Gills, Darrell Graham, and the Graeme Bowyer side of the Kevin Seymour "juvenile" machine, which included Joy To Behold, Pleasing Package and Catwalk Beauty etc.

Team Massam does not process 50 yearlings a year now, perhaps half that.

On the principle that people should be gainfully employed, wearing out rather than rusting away. There is a massive steel fencing project in progress on the farm.

More spelling paddocks and yards in a material that lasts, the young horses will come and go, and the Massams will see that they leave with a lot more knowledge and respect than when they came.

Doug and Bev are unsung heroes of harness, doing their bit so that the more marketable commodities can do theirs.

Positive outlook

IN the world of the harness hobbyist, the lows usually exceed the highs, which may be the prime cause of shrinkage in this endangered species.

When the scales tip the other way, there is cause for much rejoicing, not only by the recipients of the good fortune, but those around them, who think it might be their turn next.

It seems that the end of the rainbow has parked at the stable of Warren Hinze.

Warren, and his co-owner Barry Whitaker, have purchased a lightly raced 4yo from Bathurst in NSW based Bernie Hewitt.

Cobbler Lane, which boasts stats of 20 starts for three wins, one second and three thirds, is by Lincoln Royal from Shoe Lane, a daughter of Armbro Operative.

His four outings have produced two wins, a second and third.

The outlook must be positive, young, fit, and in an environment which suits the horse down to the ground.

This could be gold plated.

Marburg diary planner

KEEP focused on the Barastoc Country Derby and Oaks meeting, set down for Sunday, August 4.

With a heavy focus on the kids, the Marburg Pacing Association wants to provide a budget alternative to the EKKA in the "animal experience" for families.

Petting zoo/animal farm, obstacle course, pat a pony and face painting, all free.

Come along.

Handy tips

SELECTIONS for Albion Park tonight.

R1: Quinella 4-11: Unassuming Champ ( D Gatt-Bouquet) and Fame Assured (G Dixon).

R2: E/w 4: Our Major Day (N Dawson).

R3: E/w 9: Jossie James (A Sanderson).

R4: Quinella 2-7: Maretti (D McMullen) and Tulhurst Ace (A Richardson).

R5: Quinella 4-11: Clintal Do (L Weidemann) and Colt Thirty One (G Dixon ).

R6: Quinella 3-9: Trojan Banner (H Barnes) and Royal Lincoln (J Wallace).

R7: Quinella 1-8: Regulus (R Alchin) and Self Assured (M Purdon).

R8: Box trifecta 1-2-5: Governer Jujon-Goodasitgets (P Diebert)-Signor Jujon (J Cremin).

R9: Quinella 2-5: Eternal Promise (G Dixon) and Timeless Appeal (P McMullen).

R10: E/w 6: Northern Muscle (A Richardson).

Honour board

AS the black hole of visiting money pluckers widens and deepens, the figures evaporate from the leader board. Matt Elkins is out on his own as a driver with five wins. Darrell Graham slogged away to score on three occasions. Most pleasing was Clint Sneddon driving Bourbon On The Rocks for Karen Bennett.

Albion Park, June 28: Another Statement (Adam Sanderson for Grant Dixon); Run Boy Run (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin).

Albion Park, June 29: Unassuming Champ (Nathan Dawson for Mitchell Dawson); Ketut (Matt Elkins for Donny Smith); Star Of Montana (Darrell Graham).

Redcliffe, June 30: Lifes Black (Hayden Barnes for Mark McNee); Kiss Cam (Matt Elkins for Donny Smith); Cobbler Lane (Adam Richardson for Warren Hinze); Bill Haley (Darrell Graham); Dont Call Me (Matt Elkins for Donny Smith); Nevasano (Narissa McMullen for Julie Mason).

Redcliffe, July 2: Burning Ambition (Matt Elkins for Mitchell Dawson); Vanto Hanover (Nathan Dawson for Aileen Smith); Lets Dig It (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin); Oscars Glory (Pete McMullen for john McMullen); The Casual Goose (Hayden Barnes for Michael Nutley); Bourbon On The Rocks (Clint Sneddon for Karen Bennet).

Redcliffe, July 4: Nikalong Henry (Nathan Dawson for Doug Lee); Taxi Meter (Matt Elkins for Donny Smith); Wee Jimmy (Narissa McMullen for Mark Rees).