The mobile barrier’s arms fold back and it scoots away.
They sure are, but at this point we don’t know it.
The second favorite Village Witch starts quickly as expected and goes straight to the lead, and also as expected the favorite Written in Red begins well and holds the leader’s back. Countdown, a $26 shot driven by Nathan Dawson whose last 2 starts have been at the lower grade Redcliffe and Tamworth tracks, cruises into the position outside the leader, but to the surprise of most punters Chantal Turpin elects not to go forward and eases the third favorite Watch Pulp Fiction back off the gate seeking a trailing run.
They have not come out quickly, and in the usual course of events the drivers of the horses on Turpin’s inside would have kicked up to improve their own positions (and thus chances of winning) and held Watch Pulp Fiction 3-wide, thus forcing Turpin to either fire her horse up around Countdown into the death seat or restrain back to last.
But they don’t.
Brittany Graham on I’m Johnny Jet was drawn directly behind Countdown and could easily have held her ground and secured the prime one-one trailing position, but puzzlingly she steers her horse back to the usually suicidal position of three back on the fence, behind Written in Red.
Peter McMullen – Chantal Turpin’s husband – fails to rein his horse Wattlebank Flyer up to take the position that Graham has just vacated, and thus allows Watch Pulp Fiction to pop straight into the one out, one back position after they’ve gone less than 100m.
Experienced harness racing watchers know immediately that something is not right, because Chantal Turpin is also the trainer of Wattlebank Flyer and her stablemate has just let her into the gun position that it’s driver – her husband – could have had it for himself.
The temperature at Breakfast Creek immediately rises 10 degrees and suddenly punters start to sweat, for it is getting very hot on-course.
The horses all settle into their positions. The early pace is not fast, but then after they have traveled about 400 metres Peter McMullen pulls his horse Wattlebank Flyer – a despised $57 outsider who has been racing recently in poor class midweek races – out of the one out, two back spot and charges around the field three wide.
In 99 races out of a hundred if the driver of a roughie who is stuck in the death seat outside a $2.80 leader sees another horse coming around the field early in the race they will ill ease their own horse back to allow the wide runner to take over the death seat spot and give them the one-one, and probably scream Hallelujah! as they are doing it, but Nathan Dawson reins Countdown up not down, and attempts to fire his horse around Village Witch and into the lead.
Narissa McMullen on Village Witch isn’t going to give it up to him in a million years and he knows it, for reasons that will soon become clear. She kicks up and the speed battle is on. Dawson continues to race her on his inside and Wattlebank Flyer on his outside for about 200 metres, and duringf the charge McMullen pulls the whip and starts belting his horse to ensure that it is going at top speed.
This is crazy, horses of it and Countdown’s quality don’t go this hard early after the field have settled in their positions from the start, and experienced drivers like McMullen is certainly don’t put the stick on their horse with a mile still to run. But here the third generation horseman is doing exactly that.
The temperature rises another 10 degrees and the now perspiration drenched punters start to rip their shirts off.
In a few more seconds they will be ripping out their hair as well because Wattlebank Flyer eventually crosses Countdown, and when it reaches the death seat McMullen eases the horse, but almost the second that he does this Nathan Dawson pulls Countdown out 3-wide and attacks again.
WTF are these maniacs doing?
They are burning the second favorite is what they are doing.
Like cyclists in the team Madison event in a velodrome they are taking turns to attack the leader, trying to extract every ounce of gas out of the second favorite Village Witch’s tank with the aim of causing it to fall back on top of the favorite Written in Red before that horse can get to the sprint lane at the top of the straight, and thereby knock them both out of the trifecta placings.
Both Dawson and Peter McMullen know that there is no chance of Village Witch giving up the lead and allowing either of them to cross to the fence, because the second favorite’s driver Narissa McMullen is Peter’s sister Narissa, and guess what?
She is Nathan Dawson’s cousin, and Peter is too.
They’re all in on it together.
That’s the fix sportsfans, and the how and why.
Know you know, so watch on.
Peter McMullen gets around Countdown and immediately eases Wattlebank Flyer instead of trying to wrest the lead from his sister’s horse, and almost the second that he does Natrhan Dawson pulls Countdown – who has just busted a gut trying to keep the death seat and desperately needs the cover he’s just got – out of the one-one trail and goes around Peter McMullen’s horse and he attacks it and Village Witch.
Cousin, brother, sister, sister-in-law. It’s like La Cosa Nostra isn’t it?
In doing what he has just done though Dawson’s just given himself up, and if the Racing Integrity Commission is fair dinkum has quite probably cost himself his career because despite what he subsequently tells stewards, anyone with half a clue about harness racing knows that there can be only one real explanation for his actions.
Dawson is in on the fix. He’s part of the crooked race-fixing crew who are ripping the guts out of the massive guaranteed trifecta pools at Albion Park each week. But who’s The Godfather? That’s the real question.
Back to the race.
McMullen of course fires his horse up and refuses to give up the death. He’s experienced enough to make it look like he is trying to restrain his horse but what he’s actually doing is firing it up, and every time Dawson looks like crossing him he slips Wattlebank Flyer just enough rein to hold him out. Watch in on slow motion replay and you’ll see that e I’m bang on the money.
The pair are burning Village Witch to pieces, and race caller Chris Barsby reads out the sectional times as they come down the straight three abreast and shouts ‘That’s brutal!’.
It sure is, and Village Witch has absolutely no chance of winning this race even with a lap to go.
As they reach the turn out of the winning post McMullen’s horse starts to tire, which is no wonder given the work that it’s done in the last lap, and for a moment it appears that Countdown is about to get around him to the death. That won’t do though because it’s too late for Narissa McMullen to give up the lead without huge questions being asked, and besides the crooked crew need the the horse they want to win – Watch Pulp Fiction – to get a soft cart up into the race on his back.
So though his horse is stuck 3-wide Dawson eases too, and lo and behold almost immediately Chantal Turpin – who has just been sitting back quietly smoking her pipe while the leaders go crazy – pulls Watch Pulp Fiction out of its trailing position and jumps onto Countdown’s back.
Grant Dixon, a drug cheat who has been disqualified on at least two occasions for administering illegal substances to his horses, is driving 20-1 shot Guy’s Bettor Bet. He eases the horse into the the 3-wide train on Watch Pulp Fiction’s back, and Lenny the Legend follows him.
Brittany Graham on I’m Johnny Jet could have popped one off the fence when Watch Pulp Fiction pulled three wide but she elects to stay three back on the rail, and no horse fills the now vacant one off spot.
By staying in Graham gives herself up too, as will become evident shortly.
Countdown and Wattlebank Flyer continue to attack Village Witch from the 900 metre mark to the 600 metre mark, and it is exactly as this 600 metre point that the end game of the race-fixing team’s plan is executed.
McMullen puts Wattlebank Flyer under the whip and it begins to fall back.
In a normal race no driver in the world would want to be in the position behind that horse because it has clearly almost run its race and is soon going to fall away, taking the horse behind it back out of the race with it. The obvious thing to do is to stay on the fence and follow the favorite through; but this is no ordinary race and the normal rules do not apply.
McMullen pulling the whip is obviously the secret signal because it is precisely at the point that he does that Brittany Graham pops I’m Johnny Jet off the fence and does exactly what I’ve just told you no rational driver in a straight race would ever do: she assumes the position directly behind McMullen’s horse and to the inside of Watch Pulp Fiction.
Graham holds that position for about 100 metres and then Turpin on Watch Pulp Fiction takes off 4-wide around the struggling horses around her. Grant Dixon on Guy’s Bettor Bet is on Turpin’s back and should have stayed there, but just before Turpin takes off he quickly and seemingly imperceptibly pulls the right rein so his horse is slightly unbalanced and loses half a length, and then he leans left and releases the hobble shorteners, and by doing so creates a 3/4 length gap between he and the horse that he’s following.
It’s no accident.
Graham darts I’m Johnny Jet through the gap that Dixon has just deliberately created and latches onto Watch Pulp Fiction’s back. Brittany’s on a mission. Her job is to stop is to stop the favorite Written in Red from running a place and getting into the trifecta.
With the benefit of the soft run she’s been gifted Turpin dashes her horse to the front on the turn. This is where she gives herself up too, because as she nears the point of the turn she takes a sly look over her right shoulder at the horses on her outside.
But the hot favorite Written in Red is on her inside, and about to get clear. Why isn’t she looking there? Because she’s looking for Brittany Graham to make sure she got clear, that’s why.
The field enters the straight and Watch Pulp Fiction sweeps to the lead, kicks clear and is home for all money.
The second favourite Village Witch has been punctured by the attacks wrought by McMullen and Dawson and is gone, but Written in Red gets off its back and looks like a huge chance of running into a hole.
Then Brittany Graham’s horse bores in about three horses from where it was a second ago and takes Written in Red’s running line. The favourite’s inexperienced junior driver Madi Dux is forced to check her horse and change its course back to the inside, robbing it of momentum and any chance of running into the placings.
The outside horses – Graham’s drive I’m Johnny Jet, Dixon’s horse Guy’s Bettor Bet and the $31 chance Lenny the Legend – have unimpeded runs home and fill the placings.
The extremely unlucky Written in Red finishes fifth.
Countdown, Wattlebank Flyer and Village Witch finish at the tail of the field.
The trifecta is landed, and pays $565.80 for every one dollar unit, which means that it there are almost exactly 100 winning units (100.66 to be precise)s had been landed almost exactly 100 times.
I wonder who the lucky buggers that nailed it were? Ha ha ha.
Race fixers take a bow.
Just don’t spend the trifecta money too soon, because I reckon you just might need it.
Those lawyers are bloody expensive you know.