Leader Peter closing in on Queensland History

Record-breaking driver Pete McMullen can always feel that pull to spend more time with his growing family.

The top reinsman in Queensland is as hard-working as it gets within the harness racing industry, driving at Albion Park, Redcliffe and Marburg at almost every chance, rarely missing a meeting in the sulky.

And, as he is so dedicated to his craft and driving winners, he will often miss important milestones in his daughters’ lives.

It is always in the back of his mind when he produces another sparkling drive at Albion Park, usually from the front as the name “Leader Peter” suggests.

It will all be worth it later this year when McMullen becomes the first Sunshine State-based driver to crack 300 victories in one season.

He has been edging closer in recent week and is set to go past the triple ton before New Years Eve.

McMullen’s wife – trainer Chantal Turpin – who delivered  “Leader Peter” with a large portion of those victories, detailed the sacrifices her husband has made to achieve the milestone.

“It is our big focus at the moment, trying to get Pete to 300,” Turpin said.

“He has gone pretty hard throughout his career, especially over the last few years – he has gone really hard – he has missed so many milestones of the girls, like things like their dance concerts or the first father’s day at school.

“He has been chasing it so he probably deserves it as he has been working very hard.”

The Group 1 winner would much prefer to be at his Patrick Estate farm spending time with his two young daughters at times when he is at the races but believes it will be all worth it.

When he does get to 300, McMullen flagged the likelihood of easing back slightly on his driving duties to best obtain a little more work-life balance.

“Some days there, you want to stay home and spend time with the kids but being so focussed, you have to go to the races,” McMullen said.

“You miss out on a bit of that family stuff.

“If we do reach this milestone and it looks like we are on track to win the Australian premiership, that would be a huge achievement and something you dream of doing as a kid.

“For that to be able to happen, it would be amazing.

“Then we can spend some time with the kids to celebrate it, I will spend some time with them to make up for the lost time.”

In the proud history of harness racing in the Sunshine State, there is yet to be a Queensland-based reinsman drive more than 300 winners in a single season.

Shane Graham has landed in the 250s on two separate occasions over the last decade, marks that McMullen has already surpassed on the way to the prized 300.

While McMullen is set to go into the local history books when he goes past 300, he still has a little way to go to reach the all-time record for victories in a season, with champion Victorian-based driver Chris Alford setting the benchmark at a massive 456 winners during the 2017-18 campaign.

Earlier in his journey, McMullen became the youngest driver to reach 1000 winners in 2014.

The 30-year-old’s career has taken off over the last 24 months.

It took him a decade to crack 200 winners in a season for the first time and now just a year on, he is on the verge of the special 300 figure.

“This is something that I did not think could ever happen,” he said.

The third-generation industry participant says the milestone will be something he will look back on later in his life or his career and appreciate it more when he has a chance to reflect.

While Turpin has been the primary support of McMullen’s achievements, there has been several other trainers who has provided the leading driver with opportunities.

“It has been a huge year, I have done a lot of meetings and got lots of support from trainers – especially Chantal and Graham Dwyer, they have probably been the biggest two, but there has been lots more too,” McMullen said.

“It would be a good milestone to get.”

Turpin has been placing pacers and trotters all over the place in recent weeks to ensure McMullen gets to 300 before the December 31 cut off.

“Hopefully we can get him there, we will be doing everything possible to get it,” Turpin said.

“He goes to every meeting, even at home when we have finished the horses – he is on the bob cat doing something or mowing – he just does not stop, he is a workaholic.

“It has been his dream since he was a little kid doing the horses, it would be very special.”

The voice of Queensland harness racing Chris Barsby backed McMullen to get to 300 while also imploring everyone in the Sunshine State to get behind the top driver.

“As an industry, we should get behind the gifted reinsman known as ‘Leader Peter’ as he chases his spot in the record books,” Barsby said.

“Possessing the ‘killer instinct’ – McMullen will fondly reflect on the 2021 season but with another piece of history against his name, it will be something to cherish forever.”