Meet the Captain

The state of Queensland is blessed with great young pacing talent. 

Even the best pacer in the country—reigning Australian three-year-old of the year Leap To Fame—resides in the state. 

But there’s plenty lining up behind him if he falters. 

And of those emerging stars in the Sunshine State is the Ben Crosby-prepared Captain Shuffles. 

Lightly raced to date but already a Group 1 victor, the four-year-old oozes class and carries an abundance of high speed and, as many will tell you, you can’t train speed. 

“He’s a chip off the block. He’s got amazing speed and always displayed ability, but he had some gaiting issues early so patience was required,” Crosby said. 

“He wasn’t a natural but always very fast—but in any direction. He’s always been a headache; he kicks anything you put near him, he needs a padded cell to keep himself safe from himself.” 

It’s important to stress, he’s bred to be good. 

A gelded son of boom sire Captaintreacherous from the gifted race mare Morethanmeetstheye, the now four-year-old has certainly inherited plenty from his magnificent bloodlines. 

As it stands, Captaintreacherous can do no wrong on either side of the equator. His Down Under stars include recent Miracle Mile champion Catch A Wave plus the likes of Captain Ravishing, Millwood Nike, Tough Tilly, Encipher, Chart Topper and Lux Aeterna among many others. 

While his northern hemisphere stars include Captain Crunch, Allywag Hanover, Lyons Sentinel, Catch The Fire and Treacherous Dragon among others. 

And it doesn’t matter, he produces the goods with both sexes—the ‘Captain’ is a game-changing stallion. 

Many will be familiar with the efforts of Morethanmeetstheye, a hard-running headstrong filly for respected horseman Bill Crosby, Ben’s father. 

The P B Bullville filly ended her career with 13 victories from 57 starts and more than $110,000 in stakes. A solid record but one that doesn’t truly reflect her true ability. 

Her biggest triumph came via the 2014 Group 3 $35,000 QBRED Breeders Classic at Albion Park. 

At stud, she missed at her first two attempts to Art Major and Rock N Roll Heaven before delivering a healthy bay colt on October 2, 2018. 

Captain Shuffles returned to racing in May after a spell.

The colt would carry the hopes of the Crosby’s while being known as ‘Rufus’. 

Sent to Dan Russell for his breaking-in and early education, the regally bred youngster proved to be a challenging student.  

Russell does an excellent job working with the younger stock. His list of star graduates include Captain Shuffles, his younger full-brother Frankie Ferocious plus Uncle Shank, Feelingforarainbow, Checknoutthetalent and Roses Are Sweet among others.  

“He wasn’t easy. In fact, he proved quite difficult to get pacing before I sent him home to Billy and Ben. When I was long reining him he gave you a good feel, but the pacing part took a bit of time and wanted to crossfire,” Russell said. 

Crosby continued to fine tune his rookie and gave him two educational workouts at Albion Park before qualifying him on July 20, 2021, when third behind Goodtime Roy and Teachers Pet in a time of 2:01.1. 

Nikki Chalk qualified him and had the drive when Captain Shuffles made his debut at Albion Park on July 29. He finished a sound fifth (beaten 13m) behind Rebline in a time of 1:58.1. 

Nine days later, he started at Redcliffe and raced very green and rough before finishing fourth behind Shadys Cullect. It proved to be a difficult drive for Nathan Dawson. 

Crosby was being tested by his young pacer and tinkered with some changes before starting him three weeks later, again at Redcliffe. But this time he showcased his true ability with a dominant and effortless victory. 

Captain Shuffles scored by more than 35m while rating a slick 1:58.4 for the 1780m event. 

After securing his 1st win QBRED bonus, Crosby sent his young pacer to the paddock.  

Returning in March, Captain Shuffles relished his time off and scored back-to-back victories at Marburg including an impressive first up 1:58.8 clocking for the 1850m. 

Back-to-back defeats then followed at Albion Park before Crosby decided to back off again. 

Returning in July, Captain Shuffles seemed a more complete product. 

A thumping first up victory at Redcliffe in 1:55.5 was followed by a scorching 1:51.6 victory at Albion Park, only One Change and Crunch Time (1;51.1) have gone quicker for a three-year-old at the famed Breakfast Creek oval. 

“He’s super quick but I could feel him getting stronger and maturing with every campaign Ben bought him back for and that’s a frightening thing,” driver Nathan Dawson said. 

“At this rate, he should develop into a very serious prospect.”  

Naturally, the Group 1 $106,090 QBRED Triad in August was the primary focus and the exciting prospect cruised to an easy victory in his heat at Albion Park the following week. 

In the final, Crosby required a new driver with regular reinsman Dawson committed to Teddy Disco, which then paved the way for Shane Graham to take his first drive behind the race favourite.

Captain Shuffles’ connections celebrate after the win in August’s QBRED Triad Final.

Starting from gate three, Graham sent him straight to the lead and never looked back. Captain Shuffles scored decisively in a time of 1:54.3 for the 2138m feature defeating Teddy Disco and Dangerzone. 

“He beat a quality field that night. He just keeps improving and I’m absolutely thrilled,” Crosby declared. 

“He’ll go straight back to the paddock now, no Victoria Derby campaign and no sale to North American interests just yet. There’s plenty of races and options moving forward.” 

Winning driver Shane Graham was suitably impressed. 

“That was very impressive. He handled everything like a seasoned professional. He drove perfectly and gave me an awesome feel. He is untapped!” Graham enthusiastically stated. 

Captain Shuffles has now returned as a four-year-old and is being readied for the 2023 Constellations at Albion Park. 

Boasting a record of seven wins from 11 starts and earnings just shy of $100,000 he looks destined for much more given his recent trial efforts. 

A raft of features beckon including the Listed $53,040 Queensland Sun on July 1, the Group 1 $350,000 Rising Sun a week later while the $231,000 The Hayden on July 15 is another key target. 

The winner of The Hayden will represent Racing Queensland in the inaugural TAB Eureka at Menangle on September 2. 

The TAB Eureka is the world’s richest race for Standardbreds, with prize money and bonuses worth $2.1 million.  

The TAB Eureka is a Slot Race created by Harness Racing Australia (HRA) as a flagship, high-stakes event designed to excite, energise and modernise the sport of harness racing – driving unprecedented publicity, interest and commercial investment.  

The TAB Eureka is a race for three- and four-year-old Australian-bred Standardbred pacers who are authorised to race in Australia. Only those horses meeting this criteria are eligible to be nominated to start in the event. 

Captain Shuffles is looking to feature heavily in the Queensland Constellations.