"TROT TACTICS" 04/01/2020..
I do not know how many obituaries I have written in the past year, but, it is a significant number. A change of decade has done nothing to stem the tide as two more from our aging demographic have gone this week. It is said that death is a great leveller, as we take nothing out of this life, and we are measured by our earthly achievements. So, we must measure the efforts of William Forbes Dixon (Bill Dixon) who left us on 29th December in his 77th year. Born in Charters Towers in 1943 to parents who raced horses of both the harness and galloping breed, WD gained a harness licence at the age of 16, cutting his teeth on the show circuit and the "Towers" and Townsville tracks. 1974 saw the now married Dixon move to Townsville with wife Raylene and sons Bryce and Grant. He took just 5 years to reach the heights, driving 9 winners in one day, 4 at the "Towers" and 5 at Townsville, a record which still stands. In the same season he was Australia's leading driver, greeting the judge on 154 occasions. In 1982, the Dixon team moved to Brisbane, and twelve months later were well established on 18 acres at Alberton. At the same time ,WD took up a passionate interest in the BOTRA organisation, which is focussed on the advancement of harness racing in Queensland. He soon rose to President and held that position on a great number of occasions over a long period. Bill had other skills than just training and driving. This writer was Vice-President of BOTRA and on many occasions debated issues with our Bill. Sadly, I never won an argument with the man,he was the coldest,most single minded negotiator I ever met, totally unshakeable. It was said of him, that he used BOTRA for his own purpose. Not so! There was always benefit for harness as a whole in the initiatives he took forward. He had a simple formula when looking at the economics of the sport, as he realised that if there was not a healthy number of participants to provide horses for ongoing competition then the sport would soon decay. As he said," The top 10% of horses will get enough money without us worrying about them. The bottom 10% we can forget as they have very little ability and are not our responsibility. It is the 80% in the middle is where we should focus our efforts,as, if we give them reasonable earning opportunity, their owners will most likely replace them with new stock as they age, or expand their numbers.
Billy Dixon was a star in his own right, and yet it cannot be said that he had champion horses, big teams were his forte. He claimed Jeremy Lee, winner of the 1994 NSW Derby as his big moment in racing. His stats as a driver (1982 --1999) were 2148 drives for 166 wins, 418 seconds 201 thirds and 217 fourths earning $389,651. As a trainer, with Grant the main driver we see the much bigger picture. (1982--2011), Starters 20,532--wins 2,833-- seconds 5,389 -- thirds 2797 -- fourths 2592, with the bankroll a massive $13,335,095.. Brian Stainkey, another ex-Charters Towers boy, and recognised as a top trainer/driver in his own right when resident here, put it all in perspective when he said to this writer, "Bill, was ever a numbers man". Grant is now busily putting the exclamation marks to Bill Dixon's life statement. Bill's achievements are his lasting monument..
On a smaller scale, but equally important to Queensland harness, is the passing of Peter Thomas from the Greenbank and Jimboomba area.. His demise leaves yet another hole in a very leaky dyke. Computer records show us that PT was active at least from 1982/83 until 2013/14, at the same time building a sound reputation as a practitioner of chiropractic and a harness farrier renowned for the speed and accuracy of his work. PT had only a handful of drives, but his training stats were impressive to say the least. From 2952 starters, came 246 wins,574 seconds, 285 thirds and 289 fourths, banking $545,743 along the way. If you take that one step further, you will see that horses trained by Peter Thomas were in the best end of the prize money on nearly 50% of their starts. A remarkable achievement. Possibly his best perfomer was Classic Romeo, earning$79,827 in a 136 start career, while others that stood out were Coloured Star and Souix City Sue. Sadly, Peter Thomas fell victim to alzheimer's disease, and had been in care for some time. Sons Gary and Murray, maintain a strong interest in the game. Those of us who knew Peter Thomas in his "hey day" just thought he was a very likeable bloke who turned a horse out well, A little research into the figures and facts that really count, shows us a man of numerous horse-related skills, which he applied with considerable success. Pretty big, actually!
As Racing Queensland has assured us that harness racing will shortly get a "world class" facility to replace Albion Park it is incumbent on trotting folk in the greater Ipswich footprint to do their utmost to ensure that "here" is the site of choice. To that end, this writer is looking for someone with sufficient computer skills to convert a list of post codes into a pie chart. Should that exercise be a success, perhaps an attempt to superimpose the "pie chart" over a map of South East Qld, would not be out of the question. As in all such presentations, an accurate picture would be worth a thousand words.
A rash of "3s" on both sides of the leader board this week. First time on the podium for Stephanie Graham, who trained three winners this week. A dead heat for the driving honours with Hayden Barnes andAdam Sanderson on three ins apiece. Most pleasing, No Transactions returns Joedy Whitaker to victory lane at Kilcoy, Steven Doherty with the steer. Ipswich Factor 18/48..
Resultsville.. Albion Park 27/12.. Tic Tact (Hayden Barnes for Wayne Graham). Our Little Girl (Taleah Mcmullen for John McMullen).. Montana Lad (Paul Diebert for Stephanie Graham).. Colombian Gold (Adam richardson for Gary Gerrard).. Albion Park 28/12.. Ruato Bay (Lachie Manzelmann for Ron Sallis).. Tulhurst Santanna (Adam Richardson for Chris Monte).. Kilcoy 30/12.. Dream To Share (Adam Sanderson).. Guptas Cullen (Hayden Barnes).. No Transactions (Steven Doherty for Joedy Whitaker).. Ashlee Nitro (Hayden Barnes for Stewie Dickson).. Onyajans (Adam Sanderson for john durston).. Huntaway (Paul Diebert for Alex Johnstone).. Albion Park 31/12.. Big Bang Leonard (Adam Sanderson for Stephanie Graham).. The Space Invader (Taleah McMullen for Steve Cini).. Try A Sizzler (Adam Sanderson for Stephanie Graham).. Betterthanspraying (Narissa McMullen).. Redcliffe 01/01.. Andrew Jay (Danielle McMullen for Ryan Veivers).. Redcliffe 02/01.. Maywyn No Regrets (Kelli Dawson).