ISAAC MURPHY’S Albion Park Roundup
Until this year Craig Chandler’s Paw It On has flown under the radar, but that’s not the case anymore for one of Albion Park’s most in-form dogs who’s enjoying a raft of wins over multiple distances at the track.
Chandler gave the dog a month to freshen up in March and it seems to have done wonders for the chaser who boasts six wins from eight starts since returning to racing.
The dog is on a current run of four straight wins, three in fourth grade company over the five hundred metres and his most recent a dominant performance first up over the six hundred metres where it looks like his future may lie.
“I wasn’t sure about his chances in those five hundred metre races. As he’s got older he’s probably lost a bit of box speed, but he put himself in good positions behind the leader and his run home is excellent,” Chandler said.
“He’s run around thirty seconds in all of those wins which is good going, but probably not quite there if we’re talking about competing with the best sprinters going around.”
“His splits were showing he was doing his best work late and we’d been thinking about the six hundred for a while, so that was the natural progression.
The dog remained relentless up over the middle-distance never in danger when stretching away by eight lengths in his six hundred metre debut.
“He’s got to the age where we were looking for him to take that next step and he’s done just that. I don’t think he’s run a bad race before coming back from a spell a couple of months ago and 34.77 tonight is motoring,” Chandler said.
“I’ve been deliberately starting him over the short course and gradually moving him up in distance and he’s responded to whatever I’ve put in front of him.
“His box speed can be a real weapon, running 9.7 to the mark will put him in most races and 13.13 home is more than a pass mark for his first six hundred.”
Swain adds Winged Runner to the trophy case
The Winged Runner Trophy is not officially apart of Brisbane’s Winter Carnival, but the 2021 edition would have slotted right in. With a Group class field assembled for the Listed event featuring the Best 8 bitches at Albion Park, there was plenty of hype in the lead up and the race delivered in spades and Fred Swain’s All Hands Off getting the best of a thrilling finish.
Swain’s bitch held pre-race favouritism despite drawing off the track (8) and having a very light few weeks after split webbing, but the trainer insisted there would be no excuses for Albion Park’s third fastest bitch of all time, who came away with maybe the bravest win of her career.
Travis Elson’s Limited Edition gave a great sight at odds leading them out of the straight from box four and made All Hands Off work the whole race to get the win. Leanne Hall’s Extra Malt hit the frame just missing in a photo finish.
A proud Swain lauded the run.
“That’s some kind of win given the last few weeks we’ve had. She split her webbing here three weeks ago on a Thursday night and I almost ruled her out of this race, but it was probably the bitch who convinced me to run her in the end,” Swain said.
“We were in a tricky spot with Limited Edition in front and Extra Malt making ground from behind. She knows where the post is though and made sure she got her head down.
“She’s been in some tough races throughout her career, but that field tonight is probably the best she’s ever faced and gives me plenty of confidence heading into the winter carnival.”
As content as Swain was with the win, he knows All Hands Off can go bigger and thinks the timing is finally right approaching the Brisbane Cup.
“We’ve been unlucky in the past missing big races through injury or when she’s been on season. This win is the ideal gateway to have her ready for a Group One tilt.
“We’ll be seeing a lot of these chasers again over the next couple of months. As satisfying as this is we’ve got bigger goals.
“I’m sure they’ll come from near and far for the Brisbane Cup, but even though we’re not true locals this is where she does her best racing.”
Runner-up and Group Three Ipswich Auction series champion Extra Malt lost no admirers with her performance, showing at just over two years old she was ready to mix it with the best sprinters going around.
The bitch went in a strong favourite in the Listed Brisbane Young Guns, but couldn’t catch a break in her heat but bounced back to her brilliant best winning in 29.66 on the eve of the Group Two Flying Amy.
Savannah makes a stunning return to racing
Gary Mitchell’s bitch Savannah had shown plenty at her first few starts, but she hadn’t seen a competitive race since just after the Vince Curry Series in February.
There was no rust in sight when she returned in style at headquarters on the Thursday May 13 card, winning her Novice in brilliant fashion. Her first two sections were up there with some of the best sprinters going around on the way to a 29.95 win and a massive future.
“I knew she was going pretty well. She broke the record trialling at Postman’s Ridge recently and after a bit of a layoff I knew it was the right time to get her back to racing,” Mitchell said.
“I’m glad she brought that form to the track tonight. I was hoping she’d be capable of those type of sections (5.45) (11.7), but that’s still a good effort to nail it at her first Albion Park start.
“She ran well behind Rumble Ranger in her heat of the Vince Curry, but was knocked from pillar to post in the semi-finals, so when she came down with kennel cough not long later, we thought it best to give her some time and think big picture.”
Mitchell said he was on the fence whether to throw the bitch in with the older dogs and have a crack at the Group two Flying Amy or work her through her grades.
“She’s not two until later this month and with just four starts to her name the safest thing would be to give the Flying Amy a miss, but if she’s coming out running like she did tonight you deny her the chance,” He said.
“There will be much more polished dogs in that series that certainly have the wood on her at this stage. You don’t want to knock her confidence.
“That’s a call I’ll have to make over the next week, but it’s a good problem to have seeing her come back like she has.”
Barsandi bred to get over ground for Richardson
The bonafide middle-distance dogs duked it out at the Thursday, May 13, Listed Carnival Chase, but it was earlier that week Albion Park saw its fastest six hundred metre chaser of the month, trainer Dave Richardson’s Barsandi racing for times and margins, flying around the circuit in 34.74 just three days earlier in her Monday Fifth Grade.
The performance was no fluke. The bitch made her debut over the trip a week earlier scoring in 34.87 and had shown potential in the past storming home over the five hundred metres in 29.79.
Barsandi is home bred by Richardson out of Barcia Bale and champion stayer Sandave Sapphire. The trainer has full confidence in his boutique kennel.
“I’ve only got a small team, but there’s plenty of advantages that come with that. I do all my own breeding and only race my own dogs. You get an innate understanding of them and Barsandi has found her niche at six hundred metres and possibly beyond,” Richardson said.
“I’ve just built her up slowly over the sprint. There’s been some growing pains there, but it’s all a part of the journey and a couple of weeks ago I knew – right age, right time.
“Some of those races over the five hundred at Albion where she was drawing box eight, I knew she wasn’t going to win, but it’d be key to her six hundred success. I knew she was still going well testing the track record at Lismore on more than one occasion.”
It\’s the old adage to never back a dog first time over the six hundred at Albion Park and Barsandi was a big drifter on debut, but defied the trend romping home by eight lengths.
“Funnily enough I wasn’t all that concerned when she drew box seven for her first middle-distance race, she’d done the hard work over the sprint and dropping back to Monday night company I thought she could lead, and she flew out in 9.75,” Richardson said.
“All I was looking for in Monday’s run was a bit of improvement from the week before and she came out running again, this time going 9.73 early on her way to 34.74. She’s trending in the right direction.
“She’s proven she can run time from outside and inside draws, the only thing I’m kicking myself about is not putting her straight in the Listed six hundred metre race (Carnival Chase) because she’s beating those dogs on the clock.”
Even though her times might be better, Richardson knows there are tougher challengers ahead, but is happy to bide his time as he did with the sprint trip.
“She’s still got to prove herself over the distance against top company and she’ll begin racing on Thursday nights from now on, which will be a good litmus test to see where we’re at,” he said.
“Going forward I’d love to do a similar thing getting her up in distance to the seven hundred. We’ve made one successful transition and I think if I’m patient again she can be a serious seven hundred metre bitch.
“With her early speed she’d be freewheeling out in front and even second up over the six hundred we saw improvement in her run home Monday night.”
The odds of becoming a true stayer are well in Barsandi’s favour, it’s in the bloodline.
“Her Dam Sandave Sapphire won a Gold Cup over seven hundred at Wentworth Park running 41.8, so the pedigree is there as well,” Richardson said.
“Jason Mackay was a big fan of Sandave Sapphire. He told me she was the only bitch he’d ever seen sprint seven hundred metres with sustained speed, so he was quick to buy Double Bluff off me – a litter sister to Barsandi.
“Double Bluff is already a multiple winner over the staying trip at Wentworth Park and Jason (Mackay) has her down in Victoria for the heats of the Sandown Cup this week.”
Nothing Lucky about Ayres’ Young Guns experience
There was more than one surprise result in May’s Listed Brisbane Young Guns Heats, but it was Lucky Lance for Glasshouse Mountains trainer Robert Ayres who got the ball rolling, scoring a noteworthy 30.06 three length win at his first look at the Albion Park five hundred metres.
The son of Barcia Bale had punters scrambling for the form guides to see what they’d missed, but they could be forgiven on missing out in a race that included established stars Extra Malt and Pokie Payout.
While the result didn’t transpire into a fairy tale Listed Young Guns win, the dog showed he was right at home in that company running a bold third in the final.
“I was doing my best to hide it, but I was pretty damn excited after his heat win. The Brisbane Young Guns is a serious race and I was stoked he’d given himself a chance against the best young dogs we have. It was always going to be tough to catch an Orchestrate who’s winning Group Races and running in the 29.7 range,” Ayres said.
“We had nothing to lose though. It’s great going in with that underdog mentality, even though it’s a Young Guns we were the new kid on the block experience-wise.
“I was confident he’d improve second look at the track. I think down the line he’ll be running under thirty seconds each week. He just wasn’t quite ready, but it’s a feather in the cap to see him run in the money.”
Ayres had seen enough in the dog’s brief career to know that he was going to be a shot in his heat and made sure he cashed in while making a big call on how good Lance could be.
“You can never be sure what they’re going to do first time out of a new set of boxes, but he’d shown us he had good early pace and could run out the distance, so I made sure I had something on at the $18,” Ayres laughed.
“Once he took the gap on the inside down the back, he didn’t look like losing and even though he’s had a short career he’s always learnt something new, which is why we’re seeing such rapid improvement out of him.
“I’m not afraid to say he’s the fastest dog I’ve trained. Boscono has been a super bitch for me over the years, but as far as potential goes this guy is through the roof.”
Ayres doesn’t boast a huge kennel making it all the more important to have an eye for talent. He certainly got it right purchasing Lucky Lance.
“Andy Lord was training the dog. He’d had one start from them and was on the market for the right price, so myself and my mate down in Victoria, Gavin Kirk, were looking for a nice young pup, so we snapped him up,” he said.
“We were big fans of the breeding (Barcia Bale/Nana Road), but you’re still taking a leap of faith buying dogs and luckily for us everything Andy (Lord) told us about him was spot on.
“He said the dog had been doing similar things to Bandit Ned at home, who’s won five of his first six and over $50k in earnings and Lucky Lance was giving him a run for his money.
“We weren’t sure exactly what type of dog he was going to be when he came to us, but we’ve let him tell us what he’s ready for.
“He’d only been running over the short course when I got him, so we started him off with a sprint, which we did over the 331 at Albion Park. He went OK finishing fourth, but it became evident pretty quickly he wanted further.
“We saw a maiden heat and final on at Lismore and thought that’d be a slightly easier place to start his five hundred career. He finished second in the heat and won the final.
“We’d been told he’d done a lot of work up the straight, so we threw him in the Capalaba Young Guns next not really knowing what he was capable of.
“He shocked a lot of people winning his heat and even though he got squeezed up in the final, it’s good to know we can freshen him up at Capalaba between circle runs.”