Dark Son and Emma Ljung head for the finish line to wrap up victory in tonight's Pat O'Shea Plate at Clifford Park.
Dark Son and Emma Ljung head for the finish line to wrap up victory in tonight's Pat O'Shea Plate at Clifford Park. Nev Madsen

Dark Son shines to outclass Pat O'Shea Plate rivals

MONTHS of preparations turned to family celebrations when Toowoomba gelding Dark Son franked his pre-season potential with a classy victory in tonight's Toowoomba Truck Spares Pat O'Shea Plate (1000m) at Clifford Park.

Dark Son ($1.60) delivered for favourite punters with an all-the-way performance for jockey Emma Lung to take out Queensland's opening two-year-old event of the new racing season.

After soaking up a lot of early race pressure from Sassy Enuff ($3.60) Dark Son found plenty in the home straight to stave off his challengers by 1 3/4 lengths.

Evie's Lass ($19) ran a bold race for the Matt Boland stable to get home late for second while the Jackie-Crompton trained Funky Beat ($16) also produced a spirited debut effort to be just a short head back third.

Dark Son is prepared by Queensland's first father-and-daughter training partnership - Tony and Maddysen Sears - with the pair officially becoming a team earlier this month.

Tony and Maddy Sears, co-trainers of winning horse Dark Son, at the Pat O'Shea Plate presentation.
Tony and Maddy Sears, co-trainers of winning horse Dark Son, at the Pat O'Shea Plate presentation. Nev Madsen

"I'm very proud to win the race with Maddysen. It means a lot to me,” Tony said amid celebrations with Maddy, his wife Leigh, stable staff and Dark Son's owner Zandra Fleming.

The Better Than Ready youngster was bred at Warwick's Lyndhurst Stud Farm and was a $130,000 Magic Millions March Yearling Sale purchase.

Tony said one more start is planned for Dark Son before spelling him ahead of a Magic Millions campaign.

"He's a nice horse,” Tony said.

"He was made to work tonight and he was able to do it at both ends of the race and we're very happy with that.

"It's great to win Pat's race and to do it for Mrs Fleming who has raced a lot of top horses with us.

"He'll probably run again in two week's time and then he'll have a short break before we get him ready for the Magic Millions.”

The win also proved a triumph for Ljung whose two previous Pat O'Shea Plate rides resulted in an unplaced effort and fall from Red Heavy in 2016.

Dark Son ridden by Emma Ljung return to the winner's stall.
Dark Son ridden by Emma Ljung return to the winner's stall. Nev Madsen

"It was as a great effort,” Ljung said.

"He had plenty of pressure applied to him early but he saw the race right out and was still strong on the line.”

Ljung had ridden both Dark Son and Sassy Enuff - who faded late to finish fourth - to barrier trial wins but stuck solid with Dark Son.

"I think both of them will go on to make nice horse, but I was keen to stay with Dark Son tonight,” Ljung said.

"I've ridden him in a few gallops and I really like his attitude.

"To me he seemed the right horse going forward into the race and it's a thrill to be able win on him tonight.”

The Pat O'Shea Plate field was reduced to six runners when Eagle Farm filly Brook's Girl was declared a late scratching on vet's advice as the field was being loaded into the barriers.

Gorman celebrates with Victory Toast

PEAK Crossing trainer Beau Gorman made another profitable visit to Clifford Park on Saturday when Victory Toast ($7.50) toughed out a narrow victory over Marksfield ($21) for jockey Adam Sewell in the Pengelly Trucks & Trailers Toowoomba Roses Final Benchmark 80 Handicap (1200m).

Gorman trains a 16-horse team including eight two-year-olds and has had Victory Toast for only three of her 17 starts.

"I've had a few placing here previously, but this mare has given us two in a row at Toowoomba now,” Gorman said.

"She loves it up and is always competitive.

"It's a matter of trying to keep them where they're happy and she's doing a good job for us.”

'Early finish' costly for apprentice

TASMANIAN apprentice Alex Patis capped her night of highs and lows with victory aboard Simply Splashing ($6.50) for trainer Mark Currie in the Chris Broadbrent Class 3 Plate (1100m).

Earlier Patis copped a one month suspension after stewards found her guilty of not riding her mount and race leader Just Favulous ($4.8) out to the finish of the Ray Bunch Machinery Benchmark 65 Handicap (1300m).

The race was won in the final strides (short head) by the Michael Nolan-trained Archer's Treasure ($3.40) favourite for jockey Nozi Tomizawa.

Patis - having her first Clifford Park ride - told stewards she misjudged the location of the winning post and, after having thought she had won the race, she stopped riding from that point.

Emma Ljung, Maddy Sears and Annabel Grove celebrate the Pat O'Shea Plate win of Dark Son.
Emma Ljung, Maddy Sears and Annabel Grove celebrate the Pat O'Shea Plate win of Dark Son. Nev Madsen


DARK SON looked every inch a race horse in his authoritative Pat O'Shea Plate win. He obviously has a nice motor and he showed tonight he has plenty of grunt to go with it. After seeing off the early attack of Sassy Enuff he dug in for the final fight with a last 600-metres sectional of 35.32 which was the quickest of the night outside the 870m race.


TONY and MADDY SEARS teamed for their first home feature win with Dark Son in a matter of weeks after becoming a partners. It's the coming together of a master tutor and rising star pupil who are destined for many more successes on their journey together.


MICHELLE Payne and Ride Like A Girl are on the lips of many at the moment but too few people outside Toowoomba might be fully aware of the setbacks and hurdles EMMA LJUNG has overcome to fight her way back to the top of her game. Her ride-like-a-demon courage and determination reaped another reward on tonight aboard Pat O'Shea Plate winner Dark Son.


Race 1: The connections were on Cliveden at the 5.00 and then the money came on the QOP and started 4.20. Just Favulous went in the book at 4.80. Sizzling Sun was backed each way at 7.00 The winner Archer's Treasure was 3.50 into 3.40 and not backed on track.

Race 2: A quiet betting Benchmark 80 with little bets written; punters could not work out the market and let the race go.

Race 3: A good betting race with interest in most runners. There were good bets on Sassy Enuff at 3.60 and a phone bet of $800 at 3.50. The scratching of Brooks Girl changed the market and saw the price on Dark Son tumble into start at 1.60 with a late bet of $2000 at 1.70 and plenty of cash support on track made it a bad result for most bookies.

Race 4: Another good betting race where bookies got to lay most of the runners. The connections of Barney's Law and there were plenty on them on track to back Barney's Law and took the 2.60 early and backed it into start 2.20 favourite. There was solid money for More Fierce backed from 10.00 to start 5.50. Final Drum had support at 20.00. The winner Rajo Miss had supporters at 9.5.

Race 5: Bookies put up 1.80 Maddiara and punters snapped that up quickly. There was a good phone bet of $2000 at 1.70. Star Adele proved hard to lay and the bookies were 4.00 with few takers. The winner Simply Splashing was 7.50 into 6.00 and a good result for the bookies.

Race 6: Another blow out for the punters, with the heavily backed Rerun going down. The winner Raingurl was the biggest shortner of the night, being backed from 7.00 to start 5.50 and with follow-up cash bets on track. One punter claimed a bookie with a $500 cash bet at 6.0 to give a bad result.

Race 7: Punters came unstuck again with the heavily backed Mountain Courage going down; being backed from 2.20 into start 2.0. The winner Papa Jo was backed on the QOP 2.70 into start 2.4 but no money came back to track to give the bookies a good result and go home winners.

Track: Good 4

Rail: True entire course

1._ BENCHMARK 65 HANDICAP, 1300m: 3.40 fav ARCHER'S TREASURE (ch g 4yo Golden Archer-Ski Treasure. Trainer: Michael Nolan) 60 (N. Tomizawa) 1; 4.80 JUST FAVULOUS 60.5 carr 57.5 (Alex Patis) 2; 7.50 BRIS VEGAS 59.5 (Beau Appo) 3.

Then followed: 6.50 Sizzling Sun, 4.40 Cliveden, 13.00 Sailor Gerri, 18.00 Only Choice, 21.00 Grey Skies, 41.00 Shez Our Destiny last.

Won by sh hd, len. Time: 1:19.75. Last 600m: 35.97.

2._ BENCHMARK 80 HANDICAP, 1200m: 7.50 VICTORY TOAST (b or br m Spirit Of Boom-Brunequilda (Chi). Trainer: Beau Gorman) 54 (A. Sewell) 1; 21.00 MARKSFIELD 58.5 (S. Sweedman) 2; 5.00 TAPA 54 (Stephanie Lacy) 3.

Then followed: 7.50 Make A Ruler, 3.70 fav Bogey Man, 21.00 Love And Lies, 6.50 Want To Bolt, 12.00 Spirit's Pride, 7.50 Dazzling Red last.

Won by 1/2 hd, 3/4 len. Time: 1:12.55. Last 600m: 36.56.

3._ PAT O'SHEA 2-Y-O PLATE, 1000m: 1.60 fav DARK SON (br g 2yo Better Than Ready-Laura Magne. Trainer: Tony & Maddy Sears) 57 (Emma Ljung) 1;

19.00 EVIE'S LASS (ch f 2yo Siderus-Fizzy. Trainer: Matt Boland) 55 (Montanna Savva) 2;

16.00 FUNKY BEAT (br f 2yo Better Than Ready-Groovy Beat. Trainer: Jackie Crompton) 55 (K. Yoshida).

Then followed: 3.60 Sassy Enuff, 21.00 Married In Vegas, 41.00 A Tunnah Class last.

Won by 13/4 lens, sh hd. Time: 1:00.45. Last 600m: 35.32.

4._ MAIDEN PLATE, 1100m: 9.00 RAJO MISS (b or br m 4yo Sepoy-Emissary. Trainer: Graham Banks) 55.5 (N. Thomas) 1; 2.20 fav BARNEY'S LAW 55 (N. Evans) 2; 5.00 MYKISS FROMA ROSE 55.5 carr 52.5 (Montanna Savva) 3.

Then followed: 21.00 Child Support, 5.50 More Fierce, 71.00 Outback Champ, 17.00 Final Drum, 51.00 Jondy Qualo, 21.00 The Grouse, 15.00 Argylla last.

Won by 13/4 lens, len. Time: 1:08.23. Last 600m: 37.17.

5._ CLASS 3 PLATE, 1100m: 6.50 SIMPLY SPLASHING (b g 6yo Testa Rossa-Macsplash. Trainer: Mark Currie) 59 carr 56 (Alex Patis) 1; 3.70 STAR ADELE 57 (R. Goltz) 2; 10.00 ABB ROY 55.5 carr 53.5 (Madeleine Wishart) 3.

Then followed: 1.60 fav Maddiara, 51.00 Leroy Rocks, 81.00 Miss Makepeace, 61.00 Sequasi, 101.00 Morning Fare last.

Won by 1/2 hd, 11/4 lens. Time: 1:07.04. 35.60.

6._ MAIDEN PLATE, 1625m: 5.50 RAINGURL (b f 3yo Love Conquers All-Tatt's Lucky. Trianer: Gary Stephens) 53 (N. Evans) 1; 2.25 fav DON'T LOOK NOW 57.5 (R. Goltz) 2; 26.00 REG 'N' KATH 55 (N. Masuda) 3.

Then followed: 71.00 Electric Anna, 2.35 Rerun, 61.00 Coco Jambo, 13.00 Surprise Selection, 81.00 Doonya, 71.00 Carlton Star, 51.00 Spur Wing last.

Won by 3/4 len., 33/4 lens. Time: 1:41.47. Last 600m: 37.53.

7._ BENCHMARK 65 HANDICAP, 870m: 2.30 PAPA JO (br g 4yo Drumbeats-Nobody's Girl. Trainer: Lindsay Hatch) 58.5 (J. Oliver) 1; 6.50 LOVESON 55 (R. Golt) 2; 2.00 fav MOUNTAIN COURAGE 59 (Emma Ljung) 3.

Then followed: 14.00 Allena.

Won by 21/2 lens, sh nk. Time: 50.17. Last 600m: 33.71.

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