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Dawson keeping it real ahead of Rising Sun

3 minute read

Trent Dawson would be lying if he said he hadn’t dreamt about winning the world’s richest harness race, the $2.1 million TAB Eureka.

FOR REAL LIFE. Picture: Dan Costello/Racing Queensland

Before then though, the driver-trainer is firmly focusing his sights on steering For Real Life to victory in this weekend's The Rising Sun at Albion Park.

The four-year-old will start the Group 1 event from the front row after selecting gate four during Monday night's barrier draw at the Story Bridge Hotel.

Dawson could not contain his happiness after securing the coveted spot.

"That was my number one pick with the emergency going in barrier three and I couldn't really be happier with the draw," Dawson said.

"He's been really good, he was such a high-graded horse so he's come back and he's held himself really well.

"He's raced really well all season and it starts to count now, so hopefully we can hold that form and build on it."

For Real Life boasts 14 wins - including two Group 1s - from his 27 career starts, and entered the 2024 Constellations Carnival in sublime form after back-to-back victories at Albion.

He finished a disappointing sixth in the Group 3 Patron's Purse at Redcliffe on the Carnival's opening night, before running fourth in last week's The Queensland Sun at The Creek.

But the multiple Group 1-winning trainer and reinsman believes For Real Life is primed for a fortnight to remember.

"He's been fantastic so far - I say every time I go out there, I'm not going to be disappointed because he's been a great horse to me anyway," Dawson said.

"I think he's ready to be an open-class horse now and he's seasoned up a bit, so it's good that we drew well enough to show where he's at.

"We've got the Rising Sun and The Hayden's the following week and we've got a good draw there too.

"I'm not even looking past that, whatever happens after that….we'll hopefully be on a rollercoaster by then anyway.

"Once we get through those two, we'll just see what happens."

The Hayden is Queensland's pathway race into The Eureka that will be run on September 7 at Menangle.

The winner of the Queensland feature receives automatic entry into The Eureka.

While his focus is on the next two weeks, the 38-year-old Dawson admits there were already some thoughts about pushing for national honours in the big race south of the border.

"I don't have to win any more races to start imagining that - as crazy as it sounds, I have probably been dreaming of that since I was five years old," he said.

"It's easy to imagine it happening - putting it into reality is a different thing.

"But we're here, we've got the right horse and let's just hope for a bit of luck and hopefully the cards play right on the night.

"Pressure for me comes from myself, I want to give the horse every chance to show what he is.

"The horse has been great to me, it's been great for me and my family and really I just want to give him the chance to show how good he really is."

For Real Life was rated a $10 chance for the $355,000 running in early markets as of Tuesday afternoon.

Queensland-owned Frankie Ferocious is heavily backed at $2 despite fading late to finish ninth in a first-up run on Saturday night.

Sky Racing presenter Brittany Graham was backing For Real Life to rebound from recent form to challenge for the Rising Sun.

"I think he's been pretty unlucky so far this preparation so he's got a real chance to make something of that barrier draw," Graham said.

"We know he's a go-forward horse so I'm sure he'll be trying to get into a real prominent spot.

"Whilst we don't see the picket fence form line we've come to expect for him, I think there's been genuine excuses and he's clearly been sent towards this race.

"This has been the race everybody's been talking about for weeks and months now, so to see it finally come together, with a Queensland owned-horse as the current favourite is great.

"We saw Queensland success last year with Leap To Fame but I think there's a good mix of plenty of locals, the most we've seen in the race so far this time around and to see a really strong hope with Frankie Ferocious amongst many others."

Australasia's richest open race for three and four-year-old pacers will once again hold an additional $100,000 bonus for a three-year-old winner.

Additionally, for the first time, a $25,000 bonus is on offer if a three-year-old runs second or third.

With the Rickie Alchin driven-and-trained Lux Aeterna starting from gate one, the 2024 edition of The Rising Sun could see a three-year-old take the race for the first time.

"I think Rickie is going in with lots of confidence…I don't think he's going to give away that advantage, he knows how vital it is to be in a good position at Albion Park in a feature race," Graham said.

"Lux Aeterna is unbelievable and I expect to see her just getting better and better so I think this could be the year.

"It's probably a bit of a different shape to what we've seen in the last few years where there's been a really dominant horse.

"We thought we had it with Frankie Ferocious and he's still the dominant favourite but probably a little bit of trepidation now off the back of his last start effort."

Saturday night's racing at Albion also includes the second iteration of Group 1 trotting feature The Great Square, which will see $150,000 up for grabs, including a $25,000 bonus for a three-year-old winner.

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