Pint-sized pacer One Off continues to defy the believers.
The former New Zealand pacer was bought for a ‘song’ after failing to win a race his native country but has turned his fortunes right around since arriving in Queensland.
Leading owner Greg Mitchell took a punt on the McArdle – Jay Bee’s Gem gelding and placed him with his trainer, leading horseman Grant Dixon.
Mitchell enjoyed good success with another of McArdle progeny several seasons ago, Only The Brave (28 wins - $268k)
Since being based in the Sunshine State, One Off has never tasted defeat after winning a trial and then three racetrack triumphs.
One Off scored a stylish victory in his Queensland debut when successful at Redcliffe on September 6 before conquering the Marburg to Albion Park heat/final series.
Starting as a clear favourite despite an awkward second-line draw, One Off ($2.10) sat at the rear of the field before unleashing a powerful sprint with 500m left to run.
In the end, he scored by a widening margin of 13.9m while rating 1:58.8 for the 2138m event.
“He’s been a real surprise package for the stable, even after his trial victory I didn’t have any lofty ambitions for him but he’s continued to improve and strengthen each time we’ve taken him to the races. Obviously the pace was on but he let down nicely when I called on him going down the back straight, he’s headed in the right direction and will win more races.” Dixon said.
But future plans remain unclear and Dixon is now scanning the calendar and weighing up his options.
However, nothing is set in concrete at this stage.
“Hopefully, we can find and target a few more of these heat/final series and keep him progressing through his grades at a nice rate. Like I said, he’s got some nice upside to him.
“I like his versatility, in his three starts he’s proven he can race and adapt quickly so that’s a good thing going forward.
“We’ll reassess the race and keep looking at what comes up but there aren’t really any solid plans.”
Meanwhile, the Dixon/Mitchell combination struck in the Remembering Speed Ace Open Pace when Alleluia made it four straight victories.
Backing-up from Monday, the Art Major gelding landed perfect one out/one back cover and proved too good in the straight holding out Bodhi Tree and Ohoka Punter in a time of 1:54.0.
The perennial performer has claimed the current title as the best open class performer in the state given his recent form surge.
“He’s a great old performer and his win streak is very satisfying, we’ve changed his work routine around and it’s obviously working while the track is a little softer at present and that’s playing a role.
“We’ll just keep ticking him along but we’re likely to nominate for the Inter Dominion series given his current form.”
The 2018 Inter Dominion series starts on December 1 and will be staged in Victoria this year.
Chris Barsby | RQ Web News | September 16 | Photo by Dan Costello