By Adam Hamilton
CHAMPION Queensland horseman Grant Dixon may be watching on TV rather than driving his stable star Colt Thirty One in the opening round of Auckland Inter Dominion heats on Friday.
Family comes first for Dixon and he’s not leaving home until his wife, Trista, gives birth to their third child.
“She’s due today (Tuesday), but nothing much is happening yet. I certainly wouldn’t want to go anywhere until she’s had the baby,” Dixon said. “It’s another boy, that’ll give us three.”
Dixon said is timing became really tight, he would consult with Colt Thirty One’s owner-breeder Kevin Seymour on a replacement driver for Friday.
Victorian John Caldow, who won on Colt Thirty One at Melton last start, or Luke McCarthy, who has Bling It On in the series, are obvious stand-by driving options.
Colt Thirty One is the lone hope to become the first Queensland-trained pacer to win the Inter Dominion since the recording-breaking dominance of Blacks A Fake.
It’s fitting this year’s Inter Dominion is at Alexandra Park, the track where Blacks A Fake’s six-year-old Inter Dominion assault came to an end.
Blacks A Fake finished second to Im Themightyquinn in 2011 Auckland final, which iced his Inter Dominion career record at six finals for a four wins (2006, 2007, 2008) and two seconds (2009 and 2011). No other horse has won four finals.
Colt Thirty One is no Blacks A Fake, well certainly not yet, but this is not an overly strong Inter Dominion and he’s certainly shown enough through his Group 1 Blacks A Fake win and second in the Victoria Cup to say he be a major player in Auckland. Bling It On, who had a better run and beat Colt Thirty One in the Victoria Cup, is favourite in NZ’s Inter Dominion market.
“He’s shown he’s worthy of going, that’s for sure, but he can’t go and make his own luck. I’m not sure any horse really can in this series,” Dixon said.
“He arrived (to Auckland) Saturday and Dale Hogan, who travelled with him for his time in Victoria and now Auckland, said he’s seems really well.”
Unlike many Aussie trainers, Dixon is not fazed by Colt Thirty One having to race the opposite direction (clockwise) at Alexandra Park
“No, he’s done one of his workouts every week of his life going right-handed, so it shouldn’t worry him,” he said. “I’m more worried about me than him. I’ve never driven in NZ at all, let alone Alexandra Park. I’m keen to get over there to get some practice.”
Dixon’s driven in four Inter Dominion pacing finals with Atomic Ark’s seventh at Menangle in 2010 his best result.
“It’s fair to say this is the best horse I’ve driven in a series, the first one I’d really expect to be very competitive,” he said.
But an outside front row draw on Friday gives Colt Thirty One a huge test. “It’s a tough start,” Dixon said.