DJA Championship Beckons For Gus

Family Fun Night

First staged in 2008 at Gold Coast, the Darrel Alexander Memorial Trotting Championship has held a storied history in Queensland harness racing, with another chapter to be written this Saturday at The Creek.

Following two rounds of heats, another name will be added to the DJA Championship honour roll when the 18th Final is held.

The race is named to honour Darrell Alexander who originally hailed from the north-west of Tasmania, Alexander winning many feature races along with five premierships in the Apple Isle.

Lured north to the Sunshine State in 1982 – DJA – as he became known, was the private trainer for Russ Hinze before branching out to train and drive for a diverse group of owners.

Alexander represented Australia twice in the World Drivers’ Championship, in 1981 in Europe and again in 1985.

Darrell Alexander

With trotting starting to grow in Queensland through the early 2000’s, the Gold Coast Club started a new series with two heat rounds leading into a final over 2609 metres at the Parklands, naming the series the Darrel Alexander Memorial Trotting Championship.

John and Luke McCarthy combined in May 2008 to win the first DJA Series with the mare Maybe Hall winning off a 40-metre handicap with two editions of the race held in that initial year, the second running held in October.

Again, it was the McCarthy’s to the fore in that second edition, again with a mare and again from 40 metres, this time Right Interest was the winner.

With the closure of the Parklands in 2013, the race moved to The Creek, Grant Dixon winning his second final that year when partnering The Dude Abides to victory.

The following year in 2014, Our Overanova won the first of his two Finals, winning his second in 2017, becoming the first and still the only horse to win the DJA Championship on two occasions.

Our Overanova in one of his 51 victories at The Creek

Following the four heats in 2024, just one horse remains undefeated, the Chantal Turpin trained Gus, with Pete McMullen driving the gelding to both his victories.

Only one horse has ever swept a series previously, the mighty mare Pink Galahs scoring off 20 metres when winning both heats in 2021 before claiming the final with an impressive performance.

Gus will be out to emulate Pink Galahs, while the five-year-old will also be looking to become just the second horse to claim the Jim McNeil Final and the DJA Final.

Majestic Simon is the only other horse to complete the double, securing the feat in the same season, winning the McNeil early in 2020 before claiming the DJA later that year in the extended season.

Displaying his speed to win the first round heats over the 2647 metre journey, in the second round over the 2138, Gus again made full use of his exceptional turn of hoof to round them up in claiming a 4.9 metre margin.

That second round also saw Gus defeat Royal Dan, the other first round heat winner and fellow 20 metre back marker.

Gus- winner of the Jim McNeil Championship

The Turpin stable have qualified three runners for the final, with Funny Face finishing runner-up in both heats from her 20-metre handicap and Top Of The Moment progressing following his second-round heat victory from the front tape.

The Ladbrokes market has Gus a well-supported odds-on favourite, while Royal Dan and Top Of The Moment are the only other runners under double figures.

The DJA Final is Race 7 at 7.38pm.

2023 JACCKA WATCH FT Shane Graham Adam Sanderson 2647m 2.00.9
2022 GLOBAL FLIGHT FT Nariss McMullen Nariss McMullen 2647m 2.01.8
2021 PINK GALAHS 20 Matt Craven Matt Craven 2647m 2.00.7
2020 MAJESTIC SIMON 10 Chantal Turpin Pete McMullen 2647m 2.03.0
2019 WEE MAN TROUBLE FT Grant Dixon Adam Sanderson 2647m 2.01.2
2018 MONARO MIA FT Darren Hancock Darren Hancock 2647m 2.04.1
2017 OUR OVERANOVA 40 Grant Dixon Grant Dixon 2647m 2.00.3
2016 MELPARK ROYAL SON FT John Cremin John Cremin 2647m 2.02.3
2015 MY VALERIE 10 Blake Fitzpatrick Pete McMullen 2647m 2.01.8
2014 OUR OVERANOVA 30 Grant Dixon Grant Dixon 2647m 2.02.7
2013 THE DUDE ABIDES 20 Grant Dixon Grant Dixon 2647m 2.03.7
2012 KING OF STRATHFIELD 20 Vicki Rasmussen Shane Graham 2609m 2.04.6
2011 UNE DE MAI FT Grant Dixon Grant Dixon 2609m 2.06.6
2010 KING GALLEON FT Wayne Graham Wayne Graham 2609m 2.06.6
2009 SUNANA ASSET 30 Gavin Crone Glenn Dawson 2609m 2.03.3
2008 RIGHT INTEREST 40 John McCarthy Luke McCarthy 2609m 2.04.2
2008 MAYBE HALL 40 John McCarthy Luke McCarthy 2609m 2.03.5