Christmas came early for the Ballards when Dan and father Keith won all seven races at the final meet for the year at Buchanan Park Saturday. As he was presented Mount Isa Race Club’s Jockey of the Year Dan won four and father Keith three.
Keith’s three were all on Tanya Parry runners with another giving the queen four winners. That was Mount Isa and North West Queensland Horse of the Year Wicked Wiki in the Cava BenchMark 65 Handicap (900m). Dan only asked for an effort with 150 to go and he cruised to a three and a half length win from Safdie and Our Hussler half a length third.
Ballard combined with Bob Burow to win the Merry Xmas Open Handicap (1200m) on Good Job Bro. By the 1000 Diurnal Tiger was beaten leaving Good Job Bro, Craiglea Cruz and World Of Pain a line of three. At 400 World Of Pain dropped and at 200 Good Job Bro made it a one horse race. The top weight won a length clear of World Of Pain with Diurnal Tiger a length back in third.
Dan Ballard’s other two winners earned trainer Damian Finter a double. Finter bookended the meeting with hot favourites Deadly Choices and Slithering Suzie. The Steejo Press BenchMark 65 Handicap (1450m) started at the 1000m when Deadly Choices left the others in his wake to win by eight lengths with Echelon Rose second and Senseofwonder 22 lengths back in third.
The MIRC Horse Of The Year Wicked Wiki BenchMark 60 Handicap (1200m) was as easy for Slithering Suzie. The Big Sheila bolted but was quickly joined by Five Spices, Mandalong Pass and Slithering Suzie. Five Spices, Mandalong Pass and Slithering Suzie maintained the rage until the straight. Five Spices died on his run as did Admiral Ruff, after looming large, and Slithering Suzie went home in style for a two length win. Mandalong Pass was second and Five Spices held on for one length third.
Keith Ballard ironically won the MIRC Jockey Of The Year Dan Ballard BenchMark 50 Handicap (1000m) on Will She Appeal. Born To Fire missed the start as Believe It Or Not and Hunting got away. Hunting led leaving the back straight as Believe It Or Not weakened and stablemates Will She Appeal and Captain’s Pick entered the fray. Will She Appeal and Hunting cleared out in the home straight and Born To Fire reeled the leaders in. But Keith Ballard lifted the chestnut mare up by a head with Captain’s Pick four lengths third.
In the QTIS Maiden Plate (1200m), Romani Star ran away early. Experienced and Romani Star led around the bend with Eynhallow and My Mind Is Made Up joining battle until Romani Star weakened in the straight. Ballard drove Eynhallow home for a three length win from My Mind Is Made Up with Experienced one length third.
Dutch Twist, Carry To Gold and Scripts led the charge in the MIRC Trainer Of The Year Jay Morris BenchMark 45 Handicap (1200m) with Two Of A Kind and Amber’s Girl tucked in behind. Denlago and Bea Bingle could not go with the leaders and trailed by three lengths at the 800.
Scripts and Carry To Gold burnt off Dutch Twist by the 400 and Two Of A Kind began challenging and Denlago rounded them up from the back. Scripts stuck to the rails entering the straight, closely followed by Two Of A Kind and Denlago stretching out down the centre.
Denlago flew home to beat Scripts by a length with Two Of A Kind four lengths third.