It might have been a fluke but regardless, champion harness participant Grant Dixon is proud of the achievement.
A couple of years ago, one of the Dixon’s stables biggest supporters – Kevin Seymour – provided Grant and his wife Trista a budget to go and buy a couple of baby pacers.
After buying yearlings for decades, it can be a hit and miss assignment, at times.
The experienced trainer-driver is striking at 100 percent from this specific buyer spree with the two youngsters purchased having shared in 17 career wins already.
The two yearlings bought turned into Leap To Fame – the Group 1 NSW Derby winner from last year – and Tims A Trooper, the Australian Pacing Gold Bullion 3YO Colts and Geldings Final champion.
Leap To Fame is the fourth and final invitee for the $305,000 AQWA Constructions The Rising Sun to be run later this year during the carnival.
While pleased to accept the invitation for the race, Dixon is still smiling about their luck down at the sales.
“We were proud of ourselves as it might have been a fluke, but we picked two being Tims A Trooper and him,” he said with a laugh.
“I am not sure we would ever be able to do it again like that. We were pretty happy to have done it once at least.”
Racing Queensland’s Senior Harness Racing Manager David Brick believes Leap To Fame accepting an invite for the second edition of the race is a coup.
“So far we think he is the number one seed from a three-year-old point of view, having won the NSW Derby, doing so outside of his own backyard,” Brick said.
“In his last 10 starts, he has only lost one of those.
“He is clearly the best three-year-old in Australia at the moment from our point of view and seeing as he is a Queenslander, it adds to the flavour.
“We think he is a great addition to the race and we are really looking forward to him being involved.”
Leap To Fame joins boom youngster Ripp, Group 1-star Better Eclipse and Ladies In Red, who have already been revealed as starters.
With the Group 3 South East Derby before the Group 1 Queensland Derby a week later already on the agenda for Dixon and the Leap To Fame team, the trainer-driver thinks The Rising Sun will be the colt’s toughest test this year.
He has not been seen at the races since claiming the memorable NSW Derby earlier this year and is due back at the trials in around three weeks as he builds into his next campaign.
“I think it will be a super hard race, it will probably be the hardest race he contests of his three-year-old campaign,” Dixon said.
“Just taking on the best four-year-olds, I think it will be particularly hard.”
The process around handing out invites for the Southern Hemisphere’s richest race for three and four-year-old pacers is a collaborative one between RQ and the Albion Park club.
Kevin and Kay Seymour have long been interested in having their star colt contest The Rising Sun and were pleased to receive the invite.
Leap To Fame is no longer eligible to compete in the Queensland Sun having accepted an invitation into The Rising Sun.
Following the Queensland winter, Leap To Fame and Dixon are likely to again head south of the border to chase feature races.
The champion driver was full of praise for the The Rising Sun concept.
“I think it’s great that they have found a race to promote with great prize money and a concept that the whole harness industry can get behind,” Dixon said
Earlier this year, it was confirmed that The Rising Sun – to be staged at The Creek on Saturday, July 9 – would receive a $50,000 prize money increase, to be run for $305,000 in 2022.
The race also offers a $100,000 bonus for a three-year-old winner.
First run in 2021 as a part of the inaugural TAB Queensland Constellations, it was the father-and-son combination of Mark and Nathan Purdon who were successful with star mare Amazing Dream.
In line with RQ’s focus on innovation, a 'pick your own barrier' element will be added to the existing preferential barrier draw for The Rising Sun, which is expected to add further intrigue to the race.
Under conditions of the race, RQ and Albion Park Club officials can issue up to two invites to four-year-old’s and two wild card invites to three-year-old’s, with the balance of the field made up from the nominations.
Throughout the Constellations, more than $2.5 million in prize money and bonuses will go on the line, including 11 Group 1s.
Click here for more information on the 2022 TAB Queensland Constellations.