Albert To Go Extra Mile
Monday November 17, 2008
SOMERSBY-trained Special Albert will contest the $400,000 Miracle Mile at Harold Park on November 28 after winning the $60,000 Newcastle Mile on Saturday night.The Newcastle horse of the year's unbeaten record at Newcastle International Paceway now stands at 13 after his gutsy win in the prestigious sprint race.The gelding, which started at odds of $54 outstayed Iron Hudge ($4.30) to win by a nose. Hot favourite Divisive ($1.90) was a head away third after the trio engaged in a three-horse stoush in the straight.But connections were forced to delay their celebrations after a protest from last-placed Fox Valley Appeal ($12) for alleged interference on the first turn.Adam Ruggari, who drove the former North American pacer, claimed that Michael Dawson aboard Special Albert had taken his horse's legs on the first turn, which almost forced the gelding to fall and effectively ended his winning chances.Dawson claimed that he felt that he had established the lead and that there was insufficient room for Ruggari to push through on his inside on Fox Valley Appeal.Chairman of stewards Michael Beattie agreed with Ruggari that he had grounds to lodge an objection but said that the 11.5 metres which separated the two pacers at the finish was too great for stewards to uphold the protest.At a subsequent inquiry Dawson was found guilty of careless driving and suspended for 28 days and fined $2000.The suspension soured what was the biggest win in the 38-year-old builder's driving career.Unless he is successful on appeal or is able to obtain a stay of proceedings, his dreams of driving Special Albert, which is raced by his parents Bill and Barbara and trained by his father, in the Miracle Mile will be shattered."This has been by biggest victory in the 30 or 40 winners I have driven so far in my career, and while I am naturally very happy I am even more pleased for mum and dad," Dawson said."I have been around horses all of my life and held a licence for about 10 years, but I am a builder by profession and that takes up most of my time."I don't drive as much as the other blokes because I work flat out all week, and it was not until I knocked off around lunchtime that I started to think about the race tonight."Special Albert again showed his blistering speed from the gate to lead from barrier six and go through the first quarter in 26.6 seconds."It was always my intention to come out quick and then back off through the second quarter which I was able to do," Dawson said."I was able to get away with a 31.5 split and I probably could have slowed them up even more."Things worked out pretty well, and when he was headed in the straight I was always confident that he would come back because this bloke just does not know when to give up."The trainer was quick to praise his son and the horse after the win."Michael knows the horse like the back of his hand and he goes three lengths better for him than anyone else," Bill Dawson said."And the horse they reckon can't stay, well he outstayed them tonight. He loves racing over a mile and he races best at Newcastle. "I wish that the Miracle Mile was up here, but he also has a very good record at Harold Park and if he can draw barrier three or four that will be very nice."Bill Dawson said Special Albert needs plenty of work, but he will not race him before the Miracle Mile.Instead he will keep him ticking over nicely on his own training track at home.Special Albert joins triple Inter-Dominion champion and Australian horse of the year Blacks A Fake, unbeaten Kiwi sensation Auckland Reactor and Victorian Legends Mile winner Melpark Major in the Miracle Mile.New Zealand Cup winner Changeover has also been invited, and NSW Harness Racing Club Chairman Rex Horn said he was expecting a decision from connections this week.He also hinted Queenslander Be Good Johnny, winner of the past two Miracle Miles, may be invited after a board meeting early this week.This would leave only two spots up for grabs from Harold Park on Friday night featuring the Cordinia Sprint and Ladyship Mile.Mark Rolfe, who drove Iron Hudge, was pleased with his gelding. "I knew I had Divisive covered on my outside, then I looked to my left and Special Albert just wouldn't go away," he said.Peter Rixon, who trains and drives Divisive, said he would be even better for the run, and Luke McCarthy was pleased with Slipnslide ($28), which finished fourth after drawing the extreme outside and will be chasing a Miracle Mile spot on Friday night.Billionaire owner Clive Palmer and Sawyers Gully trainer-driver Ruggari were both relieved that Fox Valley Appeal escaped injury in the scrimmage on the first turn and said he would head to Harold Park on Friday. Champion trainer Paul Fitzpatrick confirmed Make Me Smile ($8) would also be a runner on Friday night.