Catch up on the week's harness racing action in our weekly review, thanks to Darren Clayton.
It was a week to remember for trainer Warren Hinze who had five winners from eight starters for the week, with a further two placings.
The highlight came at Kilcoy on Monday where Hinze was able to claim a training treble, taking half the card courtesy of wins to Our Dolly, Whata Reactor and Underthekilt.
Always tinkering with a horse a two, retiring after ‘30 odd’ years in the fire brigade has allowed Hinze to spend more time with the horses, with last Monday the first time he has prepared a winning treble, with his team of five starting the 2023 season in great fashion.
“It is my first treble, but I’ve never had enough horses in work to really have enough at one meeting to be getting those sort of results,” Hinze explained.
Only taking three horses to the grass track meeting at Kilcoy, Our Dolly was the first to take to the track and was driven confidently by Nathan Dawson, with the four-year-old mare proving too strong for her opposition.
“Nathan drives her very well, he is probably the reason she has improved the way she has, he has her worked out and told us what works for her,” Hinze said.
“She is certainly doing better than what we thought she would be able to do, after a forced break where she was probably telling us she needed some time in a paddock, she seems to have come back bigger and stronger”.
Whata Reactor was the second leg of the winning Kilcoy treble, again it was Nathan Dawson with the reins in guiding the mare to a last stride victory over Bella Godiva.
Completing the perfect day out, Adam Sanderson took the reins on Underthekilt for Hinze and sending the nine-year-old straight to the front soon after the start, the pair were never headed to claim a half-head victory.
The week was ‘book ended’ for Hinze, scoring a training double at Marburg on Sunday with wins to Our Dolly and Underthekilt.
Just as they did at Kilcoy, Underthekilt and Our Dolly were first past the post making it a successful week for Hinze.
Whata Reactor could not repeat her win earlier in the week, with the mare a scratching at the barrier after causing a pair of false starts.
“That’s just what she can do, I have no real answers to her, if she does everything right, she can always be competitive in her grade, but sometimes that’s just what she can do,” the trainer said.
With just the five in work, Hinze said it is a team effort around the stables, with daughter Lacey and Jurgen Strohschon all training at the same property.
“I only have the five, but we all help each other, it makes it much easier, and we have a good laugh and some fun it gets us out of there earlier each day," he said.
With the success of the week and what it is like to be riding the crest of a wave, Hinze was quick to point out he won’t be getting ahead of himself.
“It might be the crest of a wave, but you never know if there is a big sandbank just ahead," he said.
The hopes of Pete McMullen making it a three-peat of Queensland and Australian driving premierships took a severe hit on Saturday night at Albion Park.
Having recently returned from suspension, McMullen was handed a 12 day ban on Saturday for his drive on Melton Beach.
It was a double blow for McMullen, as not only did the indiscretion incur a 12 day suspension, but Melton Beach was also stripped of the victory following a double protest from the second and third placed horses.
Subsequently, Little Bolt was promoted from second to first and Copperfield from third to second with Melton Beach relegated to third.
Ironically, earlier in the week, McMullen was on the opposite side of a protest ruling, finishing third across the line in the last race of the day at Redcliffe on Tuesday.
Firing in an objection to the second placed Roll One Over, the placings were reversed with Its Mr Clooney moving up one spot after initially being third over the line.
A treble on Wednesday night at Redcliffe helped "Leader Peter" claw back some ground, with wins aboard October Racketeer, Miss Mia and My Girl Mandy.
Despite a chequered start to the season, McMullen had been able to pull back quite a number of wins and currently sits on a three-way tie for third in the Queensland premiership on 25 wins, alongside Shane Graham and Angus Garrard.
The sidelined Narissa McMullen is still in second with 33 wins, the same number of wins that Nathan Dawson leads the Queensland premiership by, extending his total out to 66 victories with another strong week in the bike.
Donny Smith claimed a metropolitan training double on Saturday night thanks to victories with Uptown Beachgirl and Stormtide.
Smith has started the season with a wave of success that has seen him striking at a career best 22%, recording 13 wins from 58 starters, with a further 14 placings.
Uptown Beachgirl has returned in super order this season to remain undefeated from her two appearances, the four-year-old mare returning in winning form, the same way she ended her last campaign.
Winning the three-year-old fillies feature at Albion Park at her last outing in November 2022, the mare made it a hat-trick of wins with the latest success on Saturday night.
Sent straight to the front, Nathan Dawson was able to dictate a steady 36.8 secon lead time before taking the field through a 61.3 second opening half.
Dialling it up down the back with a 27.3 second third split, Dawson let the mare slide and the pair were never in danger to pull away from their rivals, stopping the clock in 1.55 flat for the 2138 metre trip.
The win was the ninth in the career of Uptown Beachgirl, with seven of those recorded since being in the care of Smith.
Another horse that has gone to a new level since joining Smith’s Redcliffe stables is Stormtide who scored in the sixth race when claiming a qualifying victory.
Eased from a wide gate to settle in the running line as Hy Voltage set the tempo, Stormtide came with a powerful closing sprint to arrive with Matt Elkins taking the winning drive.
Stormtide has now had 10 starts for Smith, winning on five occasions, and has been partnered by four different drivers in those five wins.
The win was the second time Matt Elkins has driven Stormtide for Smith to make it a perfect two from two record aboard the six-year-old, with Taleah McMullen, Nathan Dawson and Luke Whittaker all having one win apiece aboard the gelding.
It was a winning week for driver Leonard Cain, chalking up victories in five of the six meetings that went ahead and passing a major career milestone along the way.
It started on Monday afternoon where Cain travelled to Kilcoy for three drives for trainer Peter Greig.
After finishing third in successive races, the third drive was in the last race of the day and Cain extricated his mare Ima Beach Babe off the fence at the perfect time to pull clear to a five metre victory.
On Tuesday at Redcliffe, Cain and Greig again combined for success, this time with O B Legal, who was too classy for his opposition in scoring the sixth win of his career, with Cain making it a perfect two from two with the reins behind the four-year-old.
On Wednesday night at Redcliffe, it was a double for Cain, with the first winner coming aboard Lesvos Lad for trainer Jenny Anderson, and the second coming in the last race when steering the Brian McCall trained Snack Time Rocks to a deserving win.
The breakthrough win was the first in the mare’s career after 27 previous attempts had come up short, with Wednesday nights success also securing the $14,000 QBRED first win bonus.
Not only was it a milestone moment for the connections of Snack Time Rocks, but the win was the 500th driving success for Cain, who is coming off a career high 110 win season in 2022.
With Redcliffe abandoned on Thursday and missing out on a winner on Friday, Cain scored an upset victory in the free-for-all on Saturday night aboard Rock Bottom for trainer Shane Graham.
Sitting behind the short-price favourite Turn It Up, who led the field from soon after the start, Cain angled Rock Bottom into the passing lane and the eight-year-old responded to the urgings to charged through and record the 21st win in his career.
With Marburg rounding out the week on Sunday afternoon, Cain was able to snare his sixth win of the week aboard Underthekilt for trainer Warren Hinze.
The win allowed Cain to claim the unique distinction as the only driver to win at all four tracks in the same week.
Following seven straight days of harness racing in Queensland, there is a slightly lighter load in the week ahead with five meetings.
It will however be a different schedule again, with just two meetings from Albion Park and three from Redcliffe.
This will see a Friday night metropolitan fixture from "The Creek' and Saturday night at Redcliffe become a programme that would normally be held on a Friday.
The change in programming this week has arisen from the Sunshine Stars Yearling Sales to be held this coming weekend on the Gold Coast
A parade will be held on Saturday afternoon from 3pm before the sale begins on Sunday morning from 11am where the first of 137 catalogued lots will go under the hammer.
At the conclusion of the yearling sales, the inaugural auction of slots for The Hayden will take place, Queensland’s first harness slot race.