By Adam Hamilton
QUEENSLAND harness racing has the horse it so desperately needs.
It well-known the Queensland industry has been through some tough times, but Colt Thirty One is a star pacer they can all unite around and who can fly the flag for the state around Australasia.
Potential turned into performance when he stormed to victory in the $250,000 Group 1 Blacks A Fake at Albion Park last night (Saturday).
And it was a buzz to see so many locals trackside, sporting Colt Thirty One caps, and cheering loudly and he finished over the top of some of Australia’s best pacers in race record time of 1min53.7sec for the gruelling 2680m.
“It’s fantastic to win the race, particularly with a four-year-old against the older horses, and I think it’s a true sign of even better things to come,” owner-breeder Kevin Seymour said.
“To win the race tonight in race record time shows you how good the horse will be in the future.
“I was hoping to take him to America to race on the Grand Circuit there, but my wife Kaye has overruled me. She said he’s a Queensland horse and he’s staying here to represent Queensland and race in Australia.
“He’ll have a short spell now and then get ready for the big races down south.”
Colt Thirty One appreciated going back to his sit-and-swoop racing style after being beaten when bustled to lead in last week’s Group 1 Sunshine Sprint.
It was certainly a hotly contested Blacks A Fake with Sunshine Sprint winner Ohoka Punter blasting out from a wide draw to lead and holding out challenges from the two favourites – first Our Uncle Sam then Tiger Tara – in the early and middle stages.
It was obvious with a lap to go the leaders were sitting shots and swoopers Colt Thirty One and Alta Orlando came from a mile back to fight the race out.
Tiger Tara’s effort to be beaten just 9.5m in sixth spot was huge, while Our Uncle Sam (beaten 29.5m) and Ohoka Punter (beaten 31.2m) dropped right out.
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MARK Purdon not only posted his 100th Group 1 training win aboard Self Assured in the Queensland Derby, but he snared a Group 3 pick-up drive win on the night as well.
Purdon drove Darrel Graham’s Kiwi import Bill Haley to an narrow and upset win in the 4YO Championship.
Bill Haley is still owned by NZ by Jay Abernethy and the move to Queensland has been fruitful with five starts netting three wins.
Another impressive win on the night came from David Thorn’s NSW raider Expensive Ego, who did plenty wrong and worked hard on his way to a slick win in the Group 1 Qbred Triad final for two-year-old colts and geldings in a sharp 1min52.9sec mile rate for 1660m.
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THE Chris Alford show rolled on again at Melton’s feature meeting last night (Saturday).
Alford landed both Group 2 Australian Gold 2YO Championship finals, teaming with the exciting filly Treasure for Emma Stewart and Sahara Sirocco for popular husband-and-wife team Gary and Debbie Quinlan.
Sahara Sirocco upset Stewart’s buzz youngster Mirragon on his way to an eight-metre win in a brisk 1min53.9sec mile rate.
Treasure made it seven wins from nine starts with an easy win in 1min54.9sec mile rate for 1720m.
Stewart jagged four wins on the night, including the speedy Phoenix Prince scoring easily in the free-for-all.
The other eye-catching win came from Craig Demmler’s emerging Somebeachshadow, who posted a slick 1min52.1sec swooping win in the Group 3 Winter Championship final.