Catch up on the week’s harness racing action in our weekly review, thanks to Darren Clayton.
The long trip home to Warwick on the Southern Downs would have been a little more bearable for trainer Dayl March on Saturday night following the success of Clintal Do.
Stepping out under race conditions for the 100th time, the seven-year-old raised the bat in style when swooping over the top of his rivals for a deserved victory.
Charging home in his races in recent weeks, the gelding had placed in six of his previous seven starts, as he continued to knock at victory’s door.
Landing gate seven on Saturday was not ideal, yet the race worked out exactly as it looked on paper, with a strong early and mid-race tempo working in favour of Clintal Do.
Angled to the outside by driver Adam Sanderson, the gelding charged home to score in impressive fashion, again running some slick closing sectionals with the victory.
The win also ended a frustrating drought for connections.
Considering the strong record throughout his career that shows 27 wins and 31 placings, amazingly 12 months had ticked over since his previous victory.
That win came on February 22, 2020 - when scoring in an open event - with a further 24 starts between wins, placing in 12 of those outings.
Victory also ensured the gelding maintained his record of a victory in every season he has raced since his two-year-old days.
It has been a successful career that includes victory in the QBRED three-year-old and four-year-old Triad Finals, a Redcliffe Cup, an Armidale Cup, and a track record at Inverell.
That track record was set when still just a three-year-old, when claiming victory by a mammoth 67.9 metres.
With the winning drought broken, the rains of success might just continue for March and his stable star.
Horses can be the ultimate test of patience and square gaiters can quite often raise that bar even higher, proving the ultimate test for a farrier, trainer, and driver to elicit the best from the animal.
Living up to his name somewhat, Crazy Ben has proven the ultimate frustration for his trainers and owners throughout his career.
After scoring two wins and seven placings in his first 13 race outings with former trainer Chris Svanosio, it has been exasperation ever since.
Joining the Joe and Mary Rando stable in Sydney, the gelding started on 27 occasions without a victory and was ultimately placed on the market.
Ryan Veivers opted to try his luck in finding the key to the son of Crazed, purchasing the gelding and took over the training.
After nine starts for Veivers, he was again moved on, this time sent to the barn of Dan Russell.
Continuing to search for the answers, Russell took Crazy Ben to Marburg for his 12th attempt under his name on Sunday for a stand-start event over 2200 metres.
Stepping cleanly, Crazy Ben with Matt Elkins in the sulky were able to control the tempo and hold on to score his 3rd career victory.
It was close to two years since his last victory, with that win coming on March 11, 2019 at Horsham.
Since that victory, Crazy Ben has been the ultimate test of perseverance and resilience to his owners and trainers along the way.
With 49 starts and 4 stand-downs in between drinks, is the new Ben ready to take over?
Connections are no doubt crossing their fingers that he has.
Hitting some nice areas throughout February, young trainer and driver Lachie Manzelmann has been a regular in the winner’s enclosure over the past week.
Starting at Redcliffe on Wednesday night, Manzelmann was able to drive a winner for Mitchell Dawson, as well as training his own winner.
Cyclone Kelly has now scored victory in two of his five starts since joining the Knight Street stables of Manzelmann, with Team Teal Ambassador Chloe Butler taking the drive on the six-year-old gelding.
Three races later and Lachie was able to reach 200 wins as a driver when arriving with Faireachdainn.
The Mr Feelgood mare claimed her third race victory and picked up the QBRED second-win bonus after sprinting strongly to score.
Picking up where he left off from the night before, Manzelmann partnered with the Jonah Hutchinson-trained Lets Blaze to win the opening race on Thursday afternoon at Redcliffe.
He quickly made it a double, claiming race two for Lola Weidemann aboard Miss Catalina when making full use of the passing lane, before making it three winners for the afternoon with Aqua Cruiser.
Taking the drive for trainer Steve Coombs, it was a smart front-running display when leading all the way to score a strong four-metre victory.
Slingshot was successful in race seven on Friday at Albion Park, when leading all the way in a smart 1.54.8 mile-rate, the gelding rated perfectly in front by Manzelmann.
No stranger to landing a winner at a big price - having claimed the 2019 Newcastle Mile aboard outsider Yayas Hot Spot - Lachie was able to get the spoils with Kingdom Come on Saturday night.
The $81 rank-outsider was driven patiently before sprinting hard to arrive for an upset victory.
Rounding out the week with a trip to Marburg, Manzelmann completed the week with victory aboard the Lacey Hinze trained High On Montana in a heat of the Marburg to Albion series.
With a career high 64 wins for the season secured last term, Manzelmann is currently sitting on 19 wins after two months this season - and it augers well for a strong 2021.
Spending time working with master trainer Shane Tritton has proven a pay-it-forward experience for young horseman Jonah Hutchinson.
Purchasing six two-year-olds at the start of 2019, Shane and Lauren Tritton established the Team Tritton Fractional Ownership Group.
With Shane and Lauren then heading to the USA in March of 2020, the six horses spent time in various stables around New South Wales until recently.
After spending time with the former premier trainer before his relocation to the United States, Hutchinson returned to Queensland and began increasing the numbers in his own stable.
Those number have blossomed in 2021 with Tritton showing faith in his former staffer, sending all six horses to the Queensland stables of Hutchinson.
That faith was repaid at Redcliffe last Thursday when Lets Blaze scored an impressive win at his first start for the new partnership.
Starting a short-priced elect, the colt showed a brilliant turn of acceleration to sprint clear and post an effortless 15-metre victory.
There was some good symmetry with the victory, with the winning drive taken by Lachie Manzelmann, also a former Team Tritton member.
Releasing some pressure with the first win out of the way for his new owners, the Hutchinson barn looks ready to step-up after a lean start to the first two months of the season.
All eyes will focus on The Creek this Saturday night with an action-packed night of racing programmed.
Following the completion of four heats for the Jim McNeil Memorial held over four rounds, the Final will be held this Saturday over 2,647 metres with the Group 3 Final carrying stakes of $26,330.
Orlando Jolt will be looking to make a clean sweep of the series after claiming victory in both heats.
The other two heat winners were, Van Sank and Unknown Son.
There will be two Group 3 events for the square gaiters with the Trotters Marathon over the long trip of 3,157 metres also to be decided.
Supporting these Group events will be the latest instalment of the Marburg to Albion Final, with heat winners Donny Jones, Gosling In Flight, High On Montana and Our Friend all set to feature.
A Lady Drivers Invitation event will also be conducted to help celebrate International Women’s Day, the race carrying a penalty exemption for mares that do not have a band assessment.
Five race meetings will be held for the week, with Albion Park racing Tuesday afternoon and Friday and Saturday nights.
Redcliffe has two meetings this week, hosted in the regular slot of Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon.