Having a winner is a massive adrenaline rush, a real heart-starter leaving you with that euphoric pleasure which is almost impossible to describe. In many ways, you must experience it to fully understand and appreciate.
And it doesn’t matter where you land your winner. Whether it’s a quaint little country town hosting a non-TAB meeting or at the provincials, some owners are lucky enough to experience the triumph in the big smoke, under the bright lights of a metropolitan venue.
The feeling is the same.
But imagine the glorified feeling of landing a winner at the main meeting of the week, competing against the best of the best.
Well, spare a thought for Craig Whiteoak.
Back on June 10, at the Saturday night Albion Park fixture, Whiteoak not only landed a winner, but he also walked away with a treble when his pacers Its Mr Clooney, Alta Revelry and Sugarinspice all scored at the metropolitan meeting.
His trio are all prepared by Chantal Turpin and driven by Pete McMullen.
Now, for further context, an owning treble is not completely foreign but for Whiteoak, his treble comes with a twist.
It’s his second treble, but his maiden treble came with the exact trio of horses when they all saluted at Albion Park back on December 23 last year.
The order was slightly different with Sugarinspice scoring followed by Alta Revelry and then Its Mr Clooney.
Two owning trebles, same horses, and six months apart.
What are the odds?
“It’s quite unbelievable but the thrill was exactly the same,” Whiteoak said.
“It’s what dreams are made of and it’s also the reason we keep buying horses and coming back week after week.”
In recent years, Whiteoak has significantly grown his interest in ownership and now boasts plenty of horses on his books, both pacers and trotters.
The bulk of his team is prepared by leading performers Turpin/McMullen Racing, the husband-and-wife combination based at Patrick Estate, west of Brisbane.
Working in the finance sector, Whiteoak thoroughly enjoys all facets of the harness industry including ownership, breeding, and administration.
He currently serves as the Treasurer of the Marburg Pacing Association.
“I’m hooked. I love being trackside watching my horses compete, and like most owners, I love going out and getting a winning photo with my horses. Most importantly, I still get very nervous before they race,” he said.
“You always hope for the best but racing is unpredictable. Everything and anything can happen so when you get a winner, you’ve got to fully embrace it.
“Since linking with Pete and Chantal about three-and-a-half seasons ago I’ve had more than 125 winners, which is extraordinary, but also underlines how brilliant, dedicated, talented and hard-working their operation is. The success has enabled me to reinvest and purchase more stock, mostly from New Zealand.”
Whiteoak has enjoyed considerable success with former New Zealand types including Its Mr Clooney, Alta Revelry, Sugarinspice, Elouisa Dale, King Of The North, American Outlaw, Itz Cherokee Jack and Some Excusesomewhere while his Australian-bred performers include Mister Diamond, Bettor Rocknroll, Betterthandiamonds, Chanceless Century and promising two-year-old pacer Checknoutthetalent.
His emerging types include Always Smokin, The Beauden Blues, Alta Magacian plus promising trotter Top Of The Moment. Former New Zealand rookie Shes Fullofspirit is also held in high regard.
But it’s his ‘treble heroes’ that sit at the top of his list.
“Without doubt Its Mr Clooney sits atop of my pile. I paid $20,000 for him and he’s banked more than $140,000 now while winning 15 races plus a track record at Redcliffe. He gives his best week in and week out, if they were all like him it would be unbelievable,” Whiteoak said.
“Sugarinspice was an interesting purchase. I must admit I was a little reluctant given she was a trotter but she’s been another godsend, a winner of 12 races and hopefully still plenty more to come. Sugar is better from the mobile and has high speed so maybe the Inter Dominion at the end of the year is a target.
Craig Whiteoak (centre) with Alta Revelry.
“Alta Revelry has been excellent, boasting a one in three strike rate. He’s got excellent speed and seems best when following. Hopefully, he’s still got quite a few more wins left in him because he’s still a young horse. Like I said, these guys have been the catalyst of getting more horses into the state.”
But Whiteoak is confident his latest group can be equally industrious.
“I believe we’ve got plenty to work with and I’m hopeful over the next six to 12 months, they’ll evolve and step-up,” he said.
“The three-year-old’s (Alta Magacian, The Beauden Blues and Always Smokin) all look likely and while we could’ve pushed for a Derby start, I think they’ll be better with time.
“Top Of The Moment is fairly exciting, he’s been impressive to date, so it’ll be interesting to see what type of level he reaches.”
Whiteoak enjoys looking at New Zealand form and has some trusted confidants who help with purchasing the right types, but his best results have come from across the ditch.
In recent times, Whiteoak has spread his talent across several stables including Trent Moffat, Matt Elkins & Narissa McMullen plus Dayl March.
“It’s all about easing the pressure on Pete and Chantal because I’ve got quite a few there currently so I’ve branched out with a few other stables,” he said.
“I’m always on the lookout and I trust the system that I’ve got in place. While the Kiwis have been good to me, I’d rate Betterthandiamonds as the best Australian-bred horse I’ve raced. She won 11 races and banked more than $100,000 and I’m going to breed from her later this year.
“I love it, it’s a great pleasure and hopefully things keep progressing. In many ways, a lot like Marburg, it’s a great club with the help of volunteers but we’re doing good things to promote the sport.”
So, let the good times continue for Whiteoak.
Winners are grinners.
Its Mr Clooney.