Matthew Clayton breaks his 11-year drought

By Duane Ranger (courtesy of Redcliffe Paceway)

A low-key NR41-45 Pace on a Sunday night at Redcliffe Paceway has meant more to Haigslea horseman, Matthew Clayton, than winning his own Sandy Gallop Golf Club’s ‘Coal City Cup’ in Ipswich.

The zero handicapper, who boasts four hole-in-ones, is also the Course Manager at the 18-hole Ipswich course. But club final or not, Clayton was determined to break a 4,084 day (11 years two months and six days) winning drought on his beloved Redcliffe racetrack.

“This is my first season back after being away from the sport for just over a decade. I’ve now had 13 starts this time back for a win and a placing with this fella. He’s my only horse in work, and it was just unfortunate that my two commitments clashed.

The Matthew Clayton trained, and Nathan Dawson driven, One Last Roll broke an 11-year winning drought for the 42-year-old Haigslea conditioner in race six at Redcliffe Paceway last Sunday evening (November 12). DAN COSTELLO PHOTO

“I shot a 66 (four under) a 75 (five over) and then a 69 (one under) heading into the Final, and I was striking the ball okay, but on this Sunday, One Last Roll, meant more. I’m so glad he won. It was a great feeling – and no golf regrets whatsoever,” Clayton said.

One Last Roll is a 10-year-old Life Sign – Jilly Moreau gelding, trained by Clayton, and owned by his breeder, Mark Rees, and N P Dumke. The $5.50 fourth favourite, started from gate eight in Sunday’s sixth race – the Sulky App Pace over the 1,780m mobile.

Australasia’s leading reinsman, Nathan Dawson drove him perfectly from that awkward second line draw, getting up by 4.1 metres, and stopping the clock in 2:11.5 – mile rate 1:58.9. One Last Roll has now had a whopping 225 starts since he made his debut seventh several trainers ago at ‘The Creek’ on June 23, 2015.

Haigslea horseman and the Course Manager at the Sandy Gallop Golf Club in Ipswich, Matthew Clayton.

Clayton said he only got One Last Roll off Rees in early September.

“He’s no star and not up there with Driver Avenue (six wins), and Adams First and The Falcon Ute (both five wins) as the best I’ve trained, but I was proud of him on Sunday.

“The way Nathan drove him the other night, I think I can win a race or two with him yet. He went and sat parked at the 1,110m and then out-toughed them. It was quite gutsy. I’m looking to buy another one, because harness racing has always been a passion and a hobby – and I’m really happy that I’m back involved after a long time away,” the 42-year-old said.

Two of Matthew Clayton’s great loves in life, outside family and his partner Zandra, are horses and golf. Here he is at his workplace with Judy Holmes, Brett Lawton, and Danielle Lawton.

Due to work commitments, Clayton has only managed to have eight drives this time back, but is keen for more. In the sulky Clayton has had 1,096 drives since 2001-2002 for 77 wins, 180 placings and $264,315 in purses.

In a training career spanning back to 2002-2003, Clayton had conditioned 46 winners, 113 place-getters. His last training success also came at ‘The Triangle’ when The Falcon Ute won for him on August 5, 2012.

In fact, that same Falcon Seelster gelding provided Clayton with his last driving victory as well in that same race..

Zero-handicapper and four times a hole-in-one exponent, Matthew Clayton with his golfing mate, Lee Manning.

He said his first training success came at the Gold Coast on October 9, 2003. when he drove Judala Princess to victory. That was a year after he drove his first winner behind Dot With The Lot at Redcliffe Paceway on October 11, 2012.

He said he had driven some nice horses over the years, and none more so than the 1998 Speed King 21-win ($102,231) 1:55-miler, Speed Magic.

“I drove him in the 2006 Gold Coast Cup against some very nice horses like Jofess, Double Identity, and Flashing Red. We got stuck on the markers and finished about sixth I think. He was trained by Steve Jones and Brian Hamilton owned him. He gave me The Falcon Ute to drive and later train,” Clayton said.

Clayton said he wasn’t born into a harness racing family. But despite his absence from the game, he has a wealth of experience both here and in New Zealand.

Two major reasons why Matthew Clayton got hooked on harness racing are pictured above – Bevan Dance and ‘Charlie’ – aka Astute Pride.

Born in Ipswich and educated at Ipswich State High School, left school and attained a carpentry apprenticeship before walking away from that industry completely despondent.

“It’s not something I want to go in, but let’s say I’m glad I left the building industry, and I won’t go back now. I’ve had too many good jobs since then, and love being the Course Manager at Sandy Gallop. I’ will always have a horse. That is my hobby,” he stressed.

He said he had always liked horses and got hooked through a friend of his late father, Neville.

Haigslea hobby horseman, Matthew Clayton, has trained 46 winners since 2002-2003 and driven 77 since 2001-2002

“Bevan Dance trained a few of his own and through Dad, I got to help him out . It was about 1994 and I was about 13, and I remember Bevan had a pacer named Astute Pride. He was an Able Bye Bye gelding who won 10 races for Bevan. That horse lured me into the sport hook, line and sinker. Now this is all I still want to do outside of my main job.

“it’s a great escape. Something completely different, and being a sporty fella, I like to win,” Clayton said.

Over the years Clayton has worked in several stables here and abroad, including Darrel Graham, Kenny Belford, Gareth Dixon, during the Blacks A Fake era; and in New Zealand for Mark Purdon at his former Rolleston stables, and then Cran Dalgety’s West Melton barn in 2004.

“I won a scholarship to work for Cran in 2003. I remember it was the year Just An Excuse won the first of his two New Zealand Cups. I’ve been very fortunate to work with some top horsemen and women from both countries.

Matthew Clayton pictured soon after winning with Chipsamissing. Also in the photo are Matthew’s brother, Mark, his late father Neville, and Jim Turpin (Tony’s Dad).

“I’m also grateful to Tony and Karen Turpin along the way, and they currently stable my horse at their stables here in Haigslea,” Clayton said.

“I also owe a lot to my partner Zandra. Without her, I don’t think any of this would be possible,” he added.

Clayton has been own Course Manager at the Sandy Gallop Golf Club for eight years. Before that he worked in management for Woolworths.

Clayton is the son of the late Neville and Kathleen. For the record his father and brother – Mark, have both had three holes-in-ones each; while another, brother Richard has two – giving the family 12 all-up… so far.

Photo Finish
One Last Roll (8) and Nathan Dawson prove too good winning race six at Redcliffe Paceway last Sunday night (November 12) by 4.1 metres. It was Matthew Clayton’s first training success in 4,084 days.

Matthew Clayton loves a good bacon and egg roll and so does his golf mate, Grant Haviland.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.