By Duane Ranger. (Courtesy of Fletcher Racing)
Jordan Topping drove her first two winners behind the same horse at Marburg and Redcliffe last week – and both times ‘Pop Rodger’ came into her mind.
“I lost my grandfather (David Rodger) on June 18. I still haven’t got over it, and never will. We were close. Him and Nan (Lyn) did a lot for me when I was young.
“Both those wins behind Voodoo Fella were a dedication to him. I hope he was watching over me. Mum and Dad (Shane and Sue), and Dan Russell (son of trainer, David) were also on my mind soon after the race,” Lockrose-based Topping said.
“I just want to thank them all, especially ‘Pop’,” she stressed.
Mr Rodger never got to see his pride and joy drive her first two winners. She had her first race-day drive at Redcliffe Paceway on August 31, but sadly he was too ill to watch her compete.
However, he did get to see his grand-daughter, win at the Trials before he passed away.
“’Pop’ watched me drive in and win a few trials when he was in hospital. Sadly, he never got to see me win my first Trials win in my own colours behind the Dan Russell trained Campbell Best at Redcliffe Paceway. That was on July 15. ‘Pop’ died the month before.
“He was such a great man. He encouraged me every time I put his colours or my own colours on. Personally, they will always be a memory of him. Now every time I put them on I will think of ‘Pop,” Topping said.
“I’m only 17 and maybe when I turn 18 in January, I will get my trainer’s licence. My silks are gold with purple diamonds and black sleeves with purple cuffs (see photo). ‘Pop’s’ colours were gold with a purple sash and black sleeves (see photo),” she added.
She said her grandfather trained and drove hundreds of winners, while her father drove quite a few around the Show circuits and tracks like Rocklea.
On Sunday at the Marburg Showgrounds (November 8) Topping and Voodoo Fella drew seven of eight, and landed the one-one shortly after the start of the 1850m mobile. They sat patiently before making a bid at the 400. At the finish line the Mr Feelgood 3-year-old gelding had 2.6m to spare over Manoflisa. His winning time was 2:21.3 (mile rate 2:02.9). He opened up paying $14.
Then three days later at Redcliffe Paceway, Voodoo Fella, who this time opened up paying $7, won the third event easily by 10 metres.
Topping drew nicely at three and had the bay outside the leader after 200m, and then landed the one-one before peeling three-deep at the 400m. They then shot clear on the turn and ran away to win by an increasing 10 metres. Winner’s time for the 1,780m mobile: 2:11.3 (mile rate 1:58.7).
“He went real well both days and is credit to Dan’s training. He’s not only a great farrier, but a very underrated trainer. I enjoy working for him,” said Topping.
Topping was born in Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast and has just completed her Year 12 studies at Faith Lutheran College, Plainland.
“I’m just doing my final exams now. For now, I am happy driving and helping out Dan (Russell) at Lake Clarendon. I also enjoy helping out Dad out with his greyhound as well, but I might do a TAFE course later on so I have something to fall back on.”
However, unlike a lot of the claimers currently going around the three Queensland tracks, Topping never raced ponies. In fact, she never really got serious about the sport until she was 16.
“When I was 15, I met Dan. He was shoeing my former pacer (Over The Horizon). We got talking and before long I was doing track-work for him.
“I love it and he has taught me a lot. I’ll never forget my first two wins. It was a great thrill to break through at Marburg, and then I think Redcliffe was even better because I wanted to prove it wasn’t a fluke.
“I’ve driven a lot at Redcliffe and it’s a track you have to get used to. I just want to thank Dan for all his hard work and patience. Without him this would never have happened,” Topping said.
“My parents too of course. They have been so supportive of everything I do. I am nothing without them,” she added.
Russell was rapt for his young employee.
“I’m proud of how far she’s come and how much as has achieved in such little time out on the track! She might be a young girl with very little intel behind the sport, but she great with horses. Jordan has come a long way in the short time.
“She’s always loved working with ‘Voodoo’ because he can hold a little bit and she’s not scared to drive him.
“Jordan always asked me if she could drive him at the races. I told her she could get behind him at Marburg – and so I said u can drive him at Marburg and it’s paid off,” Russell said.
Her mother, Sue was also a proud Mum.
“I am super-proud of Jordan. She has worked very hard to get to where she is and she just loves what she is doing.
“Jordan has some big influences in her life with David Rodger Senior and Junior, her Dad Shane and now Dan Russell. I can’t wait to see what is next for her. I can talk about her all day of how proud she makes me,” Mrs Topping said.
Her husband was also a keen driver before he switched codes and became a greyhound trainer before Jordan was born.
“Dad works eight at the minute and gets his harness racing buzz through me now. We’ve always had a horse or two at home, and I enjoy working with the dogs. At 17 I am very fortunate to be able to do what I love. I have it all ahead of me,” Topping said.
Her father said he never held a trainers’ licence but did work for Glen Dawson, John McMullen, Ken Belford, and Nev Doyle.
“I drove about six winners for them before working full-time for Greg Elkins. I’ve watched a lot of kids grow up and develop into good drivers and trainers.
“It is fantastic to watch them driving, but to have your own child driving out there is hard to describe. Jordan’s first win was something that every father dreams of.
Sadly, I missed the race because I was on my way to the Albion Park with one of my dogs. Even so it was one of my proudest moments seeing Jordan achieve her goal,” Topping said.
“Huge thanks to Dan and Dave Russell who have helped both Jordan and myself out a lot. I’m sitting on 45 winners and only have a small team (8) as I have a full-time job working in steel fabrication,” the 45-year-old added.
Footnote: Topping and Voodoo Fella finished a 2.7m second in race six at Redcliffe Paceway last night (Sunday).