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‘Leader Peter’ on track for ridiculous win record

Young gun Pete McMullen spent a decade dreaming of topping 200 driving wins in a season and reached the milestone last year.

It’s fair to say he’s raised the bar, big time, just a year later.

McMullen, 30, is on the verge of topping 300 wins this season – he was at 294 going into the Redcliffe meeting Wednesday night – and poised to win his first Australian driving title.

Part of one of Queensland’s most famous harness families, McMullen boasts over 2400 career wins in a career which started at the age of 16.

“I’d have started a few months earlier, but EI (Equine Influenza) was around when I was starting out and delayed my first drive for four or five months,” McMullen recalled.

“It was such a thrill to get past 200 wins last season, something I was aiming at for so long, but it wasn’t a normal season. They changed the dates of the season so it went for 16 months instead of 12. I finished with 288 winners, but you can’t really count them given the extra months.

“I did pass 200 wins inside the normal 12 months of last season so I was reflecting on that more so than setting any goals this season.

“I’ve been crazy busy all year and had so many highlights. It was only a couple of months ago I started to think 300 wins and the Australian title were possible.”

Awaywego

Pete & Chantal McMullen

McMullen is known by racing fans and punters as “Leader Peter” because of his aggressive driving style and fantastic strike rate in front in races.

“I quite like the nickname,” he said.

“It’s a bit of a badge of honour, I do lead a fair bit. I’ve always been quite good at getting horses out quickly at the start and had plenty of success leading.

“I’ve had the nickname a while. Layne Dwyer, who’s the son of trainer Graham Dwyer, gave me the nickname a while back when he was only about 10 years old and it just sort of stuck. It’s catchy I guess.

“I don’t lead as much as I used to because lots of the young kids coming through have looked at my style and do the same.

Uncle Shank

“The racing is so competitive now up here, especially, at Albion Park. We’ve got a terrific bunch of drivers, not afraid to chance their arm. There’s lots of friendly rivalries.”

McMullen’s best haul is five wins on a single meeting this season, but he’s also driven bags of four on even occasions.

He rates Awaywego’s win in the Group 1 Triad final at Albion Park on July 24 as his best win of the season.

“Well, one of the best anyway. It’s right up there with winning the race named after my grandfather (The JC McMullen) with Uncle Shank. The same horse also won the Peak of the Creek final, which was the first running of the race so that was special,” McMullen said.

While driving at five or six meetings a week makes for a chaotic schedule, McMullen and his wife, Chantal, also trained a team of 50 horses.

“Chantal’s amazing. She runs the stable. I’m only the boss when she’s not around,” he said.

By Adam Hamilton

Redcliffe Double for Pete McMullen #4togo

Hammertime Harley (Chantal Turpin)

Win #295

Studleigh Will (John McMullen)

Win #296