Trent Dawson on a Chariots Of Fire mission with Redcliffe Sales yearling

By Duane Ranger (courtesy of Redcliffe Paceway)

Clarendon horseman, Trent Dawson is a huge believer in ‘love at first sight’.

Twice in his 38 years on this earth, Dawson has for the fallen for the age-old infatuation adage. In the early 2010s Dawson had strong feelings for Crystal Towns, and in 2015 he asked his now wife of three years, to marry him.

The couple now have two beautiful children, Mathilda (5) and Maxi (2), and work 12 quality standardbreds at Clarendon, which is rural locality in the Somerset Region, boasting a population of about 250.

Trent Dawson in his stable colours with his 5-year-old daughter Mathilda – the next generation of Dawson brilliance.

One of their dozen horses attracted Dawson’s eye big-time at the annual Redcliffe Yearling Sale in 2021. He was Lot 38 (of 73) – a striking brown son of For Reason out of the Safely Kept maiden mare, She’s Elegant. Dawson paid $18,000 for him.

For Real Life was bred by former Queenslanders, Aaron Taafe and his fiancée, Alyce Welling, who are now living in Perth.

“It was love at first sight. Just the same as Crystal. He was a beautiful brown standardbred. I got a feeling this horse would go okay. He presented and paraded very well. I just had to have him, but never in my wildest dreams did I think he would be a multiple Group One-winning pacer, who is looking to qualify for the prestigious Group One Chariots Of Fire on Saturday 2 March 2024.

“It would be a dream to line up in a 4-year-old $250,000 race like that. We will certainly be giving it our best shot. The Group Three Paleface Adios Sprint, also at Menangle on February 24 is also a goal. Who knows, we may even come back for the 3 and 4yo Eureka in November,” Dawson said.

Beauty at it’s very best! Mathilda Dawson is donned in a floral bouquet soon after another win by Dad.

“We will be staying in New South Wales for two weeks this time, and I think that will suit everyone better – especially the horse. We just have to keep on trusting each other,” he added.

For Real Life’s only trip outside Queensland was three starts ago in Sydney on September 19 when he won the NSW Breeders Crown 3yo heat.

“That trip away will do him a great deal when we head south later this month. He will be better for the experience, and so will we. That’s why we will be away for two weeks this time,” Dawson said.

“Five-year-old, Future Assured, will also travel down in the float with For Real Life. He’s also in on Saturday (race four – 6.46pm). He’s a nice horse, but not as nice as For Real Life. Future Assured has won 14 races and more than $200,000. I’ve had him since day one as well and he’s a really nicer pacer. He won a heat of the Inter Dominions in December,” said Dawson.

Trent Dawson and For Real Life experience that winning feeling again. They should relive it all over again tonight (Feb 10) at Albion Park, before heading south for a tilt at the coveted Chariots Of Fire Pace at Tabcorp Park, Menangle.

“He is owned by Solid Earth Pty Ltd,” he added.

For Real Life went to the spelling paddock on November 18 after easily winning again at Albion Park by 10.2 metres. In fact, he won his last four starts in a row, and six out of seven, before having a break.

Dawson said he prepared well his resumption at Albion Park tonight (Saturday February 10 – race 3 – 6.12pm), with an easy 14.2 metre trial win at the same venue last Friday (Feb 2).

For Real Life paced a slashing 1:52.3-mile rate. That was just 0.3 of a second outside For Real Life’s personal best time he recorded when winning the NSW Breeders Crown 3yo heat in a slashing 1:52 by 9.4 metres at Tabcorp Park Menangle on September 19 last year.

For Real Life is unquestionably the best horse Dawson, has owned, trained, or driven.

The harness racing Dawson family from left – Trent, Maxi (2), Crystal, and Mathilda.

The gifted 4-year-old has won 11 of his 20 starts, placed four times and banked $267,535 since running second on debut at ‘The Creek’ on April 26, 2022. He has won two Group Ones – both the 2&3yo Triad Finals at Albion Park in 2022 and 2023. He also finished second behind Tardelli in the Group One 2022 Redcliffe 2yo Yearling Sales Final.

But Dawson is no stranger to training and driving Group One winners. He did exactly that with Talent To Spare in the Qbred 3yo Fillies Final in August 2021, and also repeated the dose a year later in the same race with Magical Maya.

In a training career spanning back to the 2004-2005 season, Dawson has trained 253 winners from 1,717 starts. He’s also placed 404 times and netted $2.1m in purses.

In the sulky, he has amassed 671 winners from 5,546 starts since the 2000-2001 season. He’s also placed on 1,250 occasions, and banked $4.4m in stakes

“These days I like to have quality rather than quantity in our stable. Crystal does a huge job helping out and being a great Mum. I also like to help out. I seldom get to Redcliffe because I’ve got the ‘school run’ – and of course my family always comes first.

“But I like Redcliffe Paceway. I’ve got some great memories there, and it’s where it all started off for me and For Real Life,” Dawson said.

Dawson paid a tribute to his parents Geoff and Gail, who had supported him throughout his career.

“I’m very grateful to them both. Dad taught me heaps. I hope I can keep winning for them, Crystal and our children,” said Dawson, whose younger sister Kelli has is also a Group One winning driver (Manila Playboy 2020), who has driven 523 winners ($3.4m) and trained 61 more ($408,940).

For Real Life pictured as a yearling.

For Real Life’s co-breeder, Taafe, said the gelding was the last and best of the 11 foals out of She’s Elegant. Next best was foal two, the 2008 Art Major gelding, Tightrope,, who won 23 races and $204,098 in New South Wales. Tightrope competed in two Group races, but ‘t didn’t win one.

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Speaking from Perth, Taafe said For Real Life had developed into a turned out to be a “great horse” and he was hopeful of many more wins from him.

“Trent and Crystal have done an awesome job with him, and we have had a lot of fun picking up all the breeders bonuses and watching him be such a top pacer on the race track. He’s best I’ve breed so far – hopefully there is more to come.

“Unfortunately, he was the last foal out of the mare but at the start of For Real Life’s 2yo season I purchased a half-sister by Art Major, and she is now in foal to Captain Crunch. Hopefully it will be the the next For Real Life<” Taafe said.

Photo Finish
For Real Life and Trent Dawson destroying their opposition last start at Albion Park on November 18. He should repeat the dose when resuming tonight (Saturday February 10).

“It would be just awesome to see him in Sydney competing in races like the Chariots and TAB Eureka,” he added.


FOOTNOTE: As Dawson heads into tonight’s meeting with the $1.22 favourite, For Real Life in race three (6.12pm) at ‘The Creek’ tonight, he has a huge chance of making it five wins in a row after Fact Finder and Betting Origin won at Albion Park on January 30 and February 3. Then Treacherous One and Hot Rod Harry triumphed at Marburg and Albion Park on February 4 and February 9 (last night) respectively.

Dawson should then make it six in a row when $1.40 favourite, Future Assured lines up in race four at 6.46pm.

He also has $17 prospect, Betting Origin, starting from gate one against For Real Life in race three. Sister Kelli will drive that last start city winner.

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