We’re fresh into a new year and there’s plenty to look forward to with big carnivals looming.
The Constellations in July followed by the return of the Inter Dominion in December being the highlights.
Both carnivals will bring hype and, most importantly, brilliant action.
Another highlight this year, albeit on a smaller scale, will be the Premiership battles.
Who will be crowned the leading trainer and driver in the Sunshine State?
Last year, a new name was etched onto the trainers Roll of Honour with former Bathurst horseman Jack Butler taking his maiden title defeating Chantal Turpin and Grant Dixon.
It was a massive season for Butler with 163 winners, 39 of those winners coming at metropolitan level.
Importantly, his daughter Chloe claimed her maiden driving century with 107 winners after taking on more responsibility throughout the year, on and off the track.
Can they repeat?
It’s a massive undertaking but it’s something that happens rather than be planned/aimed for given the intricacies of a season.
Butler became the first trainer since Julie Weidemann (2004/05) to claim the state trainer’s premiership that didn’t carry the Dixon surname.
Between the late great Bill and his son Grant, they’ve claimed the Queensland premiership from 2005/06 right through until 2021.
So, who takes the title in 2023?
Will Dixon reclaim the title, or will Turpin go one spot better to claim her maiden title?
The winner will come from that trio, but which one will it be?
As far as the Drivers premiership is concerned, “Leader Peter” McMullen has claimed the past two titles including his record-breaking term of 315 winners during the 2021 season.
Last year, McMullen steered home 266 winners – and for the second straight year, also claimed the National Drivers Premiership.
Can Pete register a threepeat?
Undoubtedly, he will face stiff opposition from the likes of Nathan Dawson, Shane Graham, Brendan Barnes, Angus Garrard and even his younger sister Narissa.
Dawson is the most likely given that he’s been a runner-up to McMullen over the past two seasons.
And given the way he’s fired out of the blocks in January, Dawson will prove hard to catch.
The premiership battles will be an intriguing sidelight to the 2023 season which will have so many ebbs and flows.
Get ready, the year ahead is officially underway and the best it still to come.
As the ‘Living Legend’ Vic Frost recently said, “Queensland has improved dramatically, they can compete anywhere and at any time.”
Until next time.