Catch up on the week’s harness racing action in our weekly review, thanks to Darren Clayton.
Chloe Butler had a night to remember at Albion Park on Saturday, recording her first metropolitan double when successful with Handsome Hero and Jeradas Delight.
Also appearing on Racing Queensland’s Weekend Winners segment for the first time, it proved the perfect warm-up as Chloe opened the card with an all-the-way-win.
Giving a good lead to her book of five drives, Butler suggested Jeradas Delight was a good chance and was also keen on Handsome Hero, with both going on to score smart victories.
Partnering Handsome Hero, the Courage Under Fire gelding has been in a rich vein of form, making it four wins in his past six starts.
Caught wide from gate five, Butler opted to press forward and was able to wrestle away the lead and once in control, held on for a narrow victory.
Trainer Jack Butler may claim that Handsome Hero was named after him, a pacer he has trained to seven victories with daughter Chloe at the reins in five of those.
The second leg of the winning double was again another father/daughter combination when Jeradas Delight proved too strong.
Taking the reins on the well-bred mare for the second time under race conditions, Butler was content to sit outside the leader With The Band after a steady lead time followed with a 61.6 second opening half.
In for the fight, Jeradas Delight held on to score a narrow victory, defeating the fast-finishing Hunza Valley by a half-head - With The Band stuck on for third.
Jeradas Delight is a half-brother to Bar Room Banta, the likely favourite for the Group 1 NSW Breeders Challenge Final to be held this Saturday.
Raced by her breeder Ray Cahill, Jeradas Delight has now won two and placed on four occasions in her seven starts since joining the Jack Butler stable.
Elkins in THE BAD books
Matt Elkins was busy at Albion Park on Saturday night, left in charge of his partner Narissa McMullen’s team along with his regular driving engagements.
With Narissa taking the night off to prepare for little sister Danni-Elle’s wedding to Ryan Veivers the next day, Elkins was sent to The Creek with high hopes of success.
As can often be the case - despite on paper looking a strong chance of success, including two runners starting as favourites - it was not Elkins’ night.
With the rub of the green not going his way, he may well have been in the bad books and prepared for a stern talking to by ‘the boss’.
The night started with Cautivar sent out as favourite when going under by a head margin.
Thinking there were grounds for a protest, the result was confirmed in the steward’s room as the objection against the winner, Handsome Hero, was dismissed.
Again, starting the race as the punters-elect for the race three with Ideal World, Elkins sent the gelding straight to the front, looking to control the tempo.
Leading them deep into the stretch, it was another close result, this time beaten the barest possible margin as Commodore Jujon arrived on the wire to score.
With their final runner in the last event of the evening, stable newcomer Godofthunder was buried away in the run before making some late ground for a nice fourth.
Elkins and McMullen have shown a commitment to harness racing in Queensland, with the couple recently moving on to their own property under the banner of N M Racing.
With this move, the friendly sibling rivalry for the title of ‘power-couple’ of the McMullen family could be ready to rise.
As Brendan Barnes approaches a milestone 450 career driving wins, last Tuesday he landed a maiden training win.
Having recently taken over the training of Pacific Drums, it was at just his second start that the enigmatic five-year-old was able to secure victory.
Allowing elder brother Hayden to handle the reins, the pair went straight to the front when the field was released and from there were never in danger.
Owned by Elin Olsson - Brendan’s partner - Pacific Drums has been an enigmatic pacer for some time, yet when he does put it all together, he can be a formidable horse to get past.
At his first start as a three-year-old, Pacific Drums was successful at Penrith and would go on to win four races that season for Olsson.
Fast forward almost exactly three years and the gelded son of Somebeachsomewhere stepped out under the name of Brendan Barnes as trainer.
Unable to match the achievement of partner Elin and win first-up, it was only a short wait for success for Barnes, claiming victory second-up.
In a real family affair, the gelding is stabled at the Marburg property of Al Barnes, father of Brendan and Hayden.
Major Fernco claimed the Pot Of Gold Final on Friday night at Albion Park with a powerful front-running display.
Starting a prohibitive short-priced favourite for the Final off the back of his dominant Heat victory, Major Fernco did not let his supporters down in scoring victory by over 13 metres.
Following a narrow third placing behind the star colt One Change in a sizzling 1.51.1 mile-rate, the Chantal Turpin-trained colt looked to have a firm-grip on the Series.
Major Fernco possesses great speed and has displayed that at his three Albion Park victories.
In the money at all bar one of his eight career starts, that ‘miss’ came when making his race debut over 2200 metres at Ascot Park in New Zealand.
Having just one more start in his homeland before being exported to Australia, the colt made an immediate impact when scoring at The Creek on August 11.
Running a smart time at his first outing in Queensland, he was then luckless second-up, again in slick time.
The future looks bright for Major Fernco, a pacer that looks to have plenty of X Factor.
This week’s meetings will take place across three venues from Tuesday through Sunday.
Joining the usual Tuesday to Saturday timeslots, Marburg will host a Sunday afternoon fixture playing host to several feature events.
Following two heats of the Marburg Junior Drivers Series on October 11, the final two heats of the Series are programmed.
Complementing these heats will be the Graham Harriott Memorial Trotters Handicap and heats of the latest running of the ever-popular Marburg to Albion Series.
Held annually, this day honours former Marburg Club President Graham Harriott, a man that was passionate about the Marburg Club.
Graham was also a proud advocate for the square-gaiters, with the race held in his honour every year by the Marburg Club always a keenly contested event.
Lansbury claimed victory in 2019 and there is every chance the mare will be lining up again in 2020.
Tuesday at Albion Park will see the progressive Kiwis Are Flying out to remain undefeated in Queensland; The Narissa McMullen trained and driven pacer will contest the sixth event on the card.