Catch up on the week’s harness racing action in our weekly review, thanks to Darren Clayton.
Young trainer and driver Lachie Manzelmann is on the rise, starting to make a splash after growing his training numbers in the past two months.
Setting up in Redcliffe’s famous Knight Street adjacent to the track, Manzelmann can claim a training success at each of the main tracks in south-east Queensland – Albion Park, Redcliffe, and Marburg – over the last month.
Kicking off the season primarily as a driver, it was a lean start in the bike, going winless for some months.
Determination saw Lachie hit his straps in the second half of the year, closing out the season with 45 wins.
Having first had success as a trainer back in December 2017 with Sicilian Slumber, it was not until earlier this season that the Manzelmann name was back in the fold as a trainer.
That win was with the mare Dashing Hannah (pictured) in Heat 14 of the Trot Rods series – on the Final night – her second win of the series after claiming Heat 6 when prepared by Clint Petroff.
With the team starting to take shape, success has flowed following the victory of Mizzz Adele back on August 13 when Manzelmann trained and drove the mare to success at her first start under his care.
Since then, Lachie has triumphed with Mega Star, Bridget Blue Chip and Cannan, with his figures in the current term showing 7 wins and 6 placings from 32 starters.
After spending time honing his craft with Chantal Turpin and Pete McMullen, Darrel Graham, and a period in Sydney with Team Tritton, Manzelmann is putting that knowledge into practice.
The win at Marburg on Sunday with Cannan is a perfect example of his conditioning abilities.
After Cannan finished mid-field at Albion Park on Saturday night in the final of the Marburg to Albion Series, the gelding was on the short back-up - less than 18 hours later at Marburg.
Sent to the post as favourite to win the second heat of the Garrards Young Drivers Series, driver Jonah Hutchinson did not let punters down.
Securing an easy lead from gate 1, the pair were able to dictate for the entirety of the trip to claim victory over a fast-finishing Bonnies Cam for driver Trent Lethaby.
Cannan has been a ‘stable-hopper’ in his career, finding his way to Manzelmann after 74 career starts that have netted five victories.
Ironically, Cannan was formerly prepared by Jonah Hutchinson who trained the gelding to a maiden-breaking win back in November 2019.
With a pedigree to succeed, Lachie Manzelmann looks set to make his mark.
The Queensland harness racing industry is mourning the loss of Russell Kajewski.
A hobby trainer that entered the sport later in life, Kajewski was first licenced in 2009/10, with his maiden winner coming along in just his second season.
That first winner was the mare Gypsy Island - an unfashionably bred mare by the unraced stallion Loverboy Gumnut - scoring at Toowoomba on November 26, 2010, with Scott Neaves in the bike.
Gypsy Island would go on to win three races for her trainer prior to being retired to stud, where she produced just the one foal, the Lanercost filly, Itmightbeyou.
Providing Kajewski with his best season to date, Itmightbeyou has been a five-time winner this season, also securing a $10,000 QBRED first win bonus when successful on May 25.
Another special moment for Kajewski came in 2014 when partnering Myluckylife to victory at Marburg - his first winner as a driver.
His four winners in the sulky were partnered by another 20 as a trainer.
Our heartfelt sympathies go to his wife, Doris, and the entire Kajewski family.
Trainer Mark Rees has made the most of staying close to home over a six-day period, with some strong results at Marburg.
At Monday’s October 5 meeting, Rees prepared a training double, which included a quinella.
The meet also saw the return of Marburg track record holder Jewel Of Peak, who returned from a spell in fine style to win the eighth race of her career.
Two races later, and Rees led home the quinella when Ale Ale Kai defeated So Kool Master, with Narissa McMullen claiming the drive on both Rees winners.
With Marburg again racing on Sunday, Rees was able to send his team around again, securing a win, a third and a fourth from his three runners.
So Kool Master - a horse he also owns - franked the form of Ale Ale Kai the previous week where he ran second, when coming with a well-timed finishing burst.
Driven by Matt Elkins, the seven-year-old gelding attacked the line strongly to claim his 14th career victory and second since being trained by Rees.
The standardbred are a resilient breed and that was to the fore on Friday when rising 12-year-old Mark Dennis secured another victory.
After 272 career starts, the gelding is second only to the champion Chicago Bull, as having the most wins of their sire - Bettors Delight- and still racing in Australia.
Friday night’s victory took his tally to 46 career wins and just his second at Albion Park.
Despite it being just his second victory at Brisbane’s pacing headquarters, it was his first while prepared in Queensland.
The first victory he recorded at The Creek came back in April of 2019 when sent north to campaign by Shane Sanderson, a former Queenslander that has been training out of Menangle for several years.
When previously trained by Shane Tritton, Mark Dennis competed in the state’s best race, finishing ninth in the 2014 Queensland Pacing Championship, a race won by For A Reason.
Mark Dennis started his Australian career back on November 24, 2011 when trained and driven by Lance Justice to victory at Cranbourne.
The journeyman pacer has been based in Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales and now Queensland where Jack Butler is the ninth trainer to saddle the gelding since that first Australian start.
A win that came with Mark Dennis leading all the way, Chloe Butler took the drive and became the 12th driver to steer the gelding to success in Australia.
Albion Park will host the $10,800 Pot Of Gold Final this Friday night, after the series had originally been put back a fortnight owing to the track resurfacing.
After two heats, Major Fernco looks the one to beat after blitzing his rivals to claim the second heat by almost 25 metres.
The first heat was a much closer affair, with just a neck margin separating the first three across the line, Motu Amethyst arriving along the passing lane to score.
Redcliffe will host a Sunday evening meeting this week, to complement the Wednesday and Thursday fixtures.
With stakes programmed at $3,499 for the Sunday night meeting, each race will also offer the added QBRED Cash Bonus feature to the winner.
The Creek will host meetings Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday as per normal.
Tuesday afternoon’s Albion Park meet has assembled a strong eight-race card with some competitive line-ups across the board.
The sixth event looks the highlight, where the progressive types Kiwis Are Flying and Delightful Major are set to do battle, however there are some other quality performers that could claim victory.