Saturday night will see the fifth running of The Bill Dixon, a race named to honour a Queensland and Australian legend of the sport.
William Forbes Dixon had a lifetime of achievement in harness racing which was recognised with entry to the Queensland Harness Hall of Fame in 2008.
Born into a racing family, Dixon raced predominantly in Far North Queensland early in his career, dominating the North of the State through the mid 1970’s.
On September 6, 1975, Dixon drove four winners at Charters Towers in their afternoon meeting, then competing at Townsville that night the talented reinsman drove a further five winners, making it nine winners on the same day, a record that still stands, only being equalled in 2022.
It was from his Townsville base that Dixon claimed the 1977/78 Australian Drivers Premiership with 154 victories.
Looking at the names that made up the top-ten that year puts the effort into perspective, with O’Sullivan, Demmler, Turnbull, Frost and Newman just some of the household names of that era that finished behind Bill Dixon during that season.
In the early 1980’s Bill Dixon moved his young family to Brisbane and started to go about building his name against the stronger stables in the South East corner of the State.
A treasured victory came in the 1988 Rocklea Supporters and Members Final, a race that would later morph into the Rocklea Pot of Gold.
Driving Key Walbro, a gelding that he also trained, Dixon drew the all-important one alley around the tight Rocklea circuit.
In scoring what was the biggest driving victory of his career, the winning prizemoney was $35,000, a huge amount for the time.
Slowly building the quality and numbers in the early 1990’s, a young Grant Dixon was now an integral member of the stable, following in the footsteps of his father.
In 1993, the Dixon’s had unearthed a potential star and Jeremy Lee finished his two-year-old season a ten-time winner including a victory in the Queensland Sires Stakes.
Returning as a three-year-old, Jeremy Lee was taken on the road and was successful at Moonee Valley before progressing through to the Victoria Derby Final where he was unplaced behind Khans Thunder.
Returning to Queensland the star colt defended his Sires Stakes Crown with victory in the three-year-old division, before again heading south to target the NSW Derby at Harold Park.
From barrier five, Jeremy Lee proved too classy for his opposition, providing the Bill and Grant Dixon combination with their first Group 1 triumphs.
That moment would be one of Dixon’s finest moments in the sport and be cherished throughout his career thereafter.
Continuing to build his stable after breaking through at the top level, success continued to follow off the back of the hard work and quality horses joining the team.
In the early 2000’s, Bill Dixon dominated the training ranks in Queensland, winning six successive training premierships before retiring and handing the reins to son Grant.
Finishing runner-up to Paul Fitzpatrick in successive seasons in 2005/6 and 2006/7 for the National Title, Bill would go on to win the next four successive premierships to be awarded the J.D. Watts Award as the leading Australian trainer.
In his final season training, Dixon registered a career high 299 wins, a then Australian record for most training wins in a season.
Along with his inclusion to the Queensland Harness Hall of Fame, Bill Dixon was in 2012 awarded the Harness Racing Australia Distinguished National Service Award.
The award is presented to recognise important achievement, substantive effort, enterprise, endeavour, creativity and professional excellence on a national or state basis over a long period of time.
Qualities that W F Dixon displayed right throughout his career.