Picture: Rob Williams
Picture: Rob Williams

Young driver with the gift

TROT TACTICS

ABSOLUTE top line race drivers in the harness business are more or less “born rather than made”.

Like all champions, they have a number of extra skills, which are not available to the average reinsperson.

The ability to establish a workable relationship between driver and horse in the brief few minutes (preliminary and pre-race circle) prior to racing is often all it needs to turn a loser into a winner.

One such gifted young driver is Zac Chappenden, who left school to work in the Deception Bay area stable of his parents, battlers Melissa Kendall and Phil Chappenden.

That was his first milestone, having wanted to “do this, since I was a baby”.

First licenced in the 2018/19 season, Zac broke through for that all-important first win, at his 42nd appearance behind Aroona, a pacer trained by his mother.

In 2018/19, his 81 starts netted two wins and 20 placings for earnings of $24,402.

In only his second term in the sulky, Zac’s lifetime stats as of last Thursday stand at 350 drives for 26 wins, 36 seconds and 43 thirds. The bank balance has grown to $168,229.

His second milestone was achieved in the recent Queensland Young Drivers Championship, when he blitzed his opposition by a massive 20 points.

The best horse he has driven came his way on the last night of the series, in the shape of Sam Is Perfection, a rising talent in the Jack Butler stable.

“Sammy” not only clinched the series but provided Zac with his first Saturday night win.

There you have. Zac Chappenden is forcing his way up the ladder of harness success from the base of the harness pyramid.

No leg-ups for this bloke whose ambition is to be “the best driver I can”.

Horses run for him and his discussion of things which have happened in a race display a maturity far beyond his years.

Zac Chappenden is on the go and he is going far.

Helping battlers

THERE are probably only two chances for a participant of modest means to acquire a top class horse.

Buy a lower priced yearling and hope like hell that it fires, or breed one by a well bred and performed but unpopular stallion.

In 2011, Toogooloowah based breeder George Michael bid a lowly $200 for a 13 year old Canadian import called Quality Cam, a son of champion pacer Camluck.

Basically unwanted back home, and with no slick promotion machine to boom his prospects down under, Quality Cam was headed for obscurity or worse, until George put up his hand.

In the ensuing nine years until now, it seemed that he had done the disappearing trick again. There are only 31 foalings recorded in that time.

In the past few months the only five to have raced, and likely the only five that have been tried, have all won. They include Melton Lucky, which won at Redcliffe on Thursday, just in time to make this column.

Included in this list is a 3yo trotting filly Quality Sunset, which has won two from seven (including Melton) and a massive second after breaking badly at Ballarat. This filly appears at this time to be a realistic Oaks prospect.

George has a large number of horses at Toogooloowah, some by Bonomax (unbroken) and is open to realistic offers for most of them.

From the breeding aspect, Quality Cam has become an out-cross by the passage of time.

The last line of his pedigree is loaded with the best of the 50’s and early 60’s USA male lines, an era when strength was as important as sheer speed.

I believe that to go to a stallion with that type of background is called “breeding back into the herd”, and can be very successful.

Quality Cam will stand for $1100 GST included, and free return if no foal.

Just might help some battlers to stay in the game.

Honour board

CHANGES on the leader board this week. On the drivers totem pole, Taleah McMullen was on the high point with four wins, just one ahead of older sister Narissa McMullen.

Top trainer went four ways with Chantal Turpin, Darren Ebert, Ricky Gordon and Trent Dawson all leading in a pair of winners.

Most pleasing was Elizabethan Era for Allan Godwin, Trent Moffat in the sulky, Taleah McMullen’s treble at Redcliffe on Sunday, and Trent Hodges and Noel Parrish landing the Last Starfire at Redcliffe on Thursday.

Albion Park, May 15: Shegotsass (T Gillespie).

Albion Park, May 16: Sole Ambition (Lachie Manzelmann for Donny Smith); The Money Ball (Narissa McMullen for Steve Cini); Bridget Blue Chip (Lachie Manzelmann for Chantal Turpin); Chinook Winds (Trent Moffat for Ricky Gordon); Garland Greene (Narissa McMullen for Steve Cini); Mister Diamond (Trent Moffat for John Cockburn).

Redcliffe, May 17: Chump Chop (Chris Geary for Darren Ebert); Spring Campaign (Trent Moffat for Ricky Gordon); Red Terror (Paul Diebert for Mark Rees); Gleneagle Warrior (Taleah McMullen for Vicki Rasmussen); Whately (Taleah McMullen for Darren Ebert); Hurrikane Special (Taleah McMullen for Steve Benham).

Albion Park, May 19: Tiz A Sizzler (Brittany Graham for Stephanie Graham); Is Somethingburning (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin); Tulhurst Ace (Narissa McMullen for Chris Monte); Ketut (Matt Elkins for Donny Smith); Corey William (Pete McMullen for Peter Greig); Elizabethan Era (Trent Moffat for Allan Godwin).

Redcliffe, May 20: Torque Is My Girl (Hayden Barnes for Wayne Graham); Perfect Feeling (Matt Elkins for Dan Russell); Love Your Work (Trent Dawson).

Redcliffe, May 21: The Last Starfire (Noel Parrish for Trent Hodges); Melton Lucky (Taleah McMullen for John McMullen); Chromozone (Trent Moffat for Ricky Gordon); Big In America (Hayden Barnes for Stewie Dixon); Showem Simon (Trent Dawson).

Handy tips

SELECTIONS for Albion Park tonight.

R1: Box trifecta 2-5-8: Left A Terror (N McMullen)-Perfect Feeling (P McMullen)-Feelingforarainbow (M Elkins).

R2: Box trifecta 5-6-8: Cherrys The Best (T Dixon)-Eternal Promise (A Sanderson)-Miss Moneybags (K Rasmussen).

R3: Quinella 3-5: Big Wheels (C Turpin) and Uncle Shank (P McMullen).

R4: Quinella 1-4: Sheza Bonny Shiela (A Sanderson) and Talent To Spare (T Dawson).

R5: Quinella 2-12:Suki Dayo (D Weeks) and Jiggle And Jive (N Dawson).

R6: Box trifecta 1-5-8: Black Jack Bart (T Dixon)-The Hummer (J Cremin)-Governor Jujon (G Dixon).

R7: Quinella 7-10: Sweet Lobo (N Dawson) and Whatta Good Reason (K Dawson).

R8: Quinella 2-5: Toanui Spirit (T Dawson) and Better Than Diamonds (P McMullen).

R9: E/w 7: Our Balou (G Dixon).

R10: Quinella 1-3: Tancaltra Lis (T Dawson) and Senora Jujon (G Dixon).