Queen’s ninth crown


GWENDA Markwell would have been happy to let the whole thing blow over. At Kembla Grange today, Markwell will be called on to accept the champion trainer and leading Kembla trainer awards for the Illawarra Turf Club’s 2010-11 season.

Anyone who knows the "Queen of Kembla" knows winning awards and receiving public recognition aren't important to her. But anyone who wins nine straight trainers' premierships - while preparing only 40-50 horses each year - deserves a pat on the back.

Markwell trained 33 winners and 39 placegetters at the premier South Coast track last season. Her horses tallied 155 points as she finished a whopping 90 ahead of premier metropolitan trainer Chris Waller, and 94 in front of Peter Snowden's powerful Darley stable.

Her 33 individual winners also gave her an easy win in the Kembla trainers’ premiership, 19 clear of Diane Poidevin-Laine and 25 more than Kerry Parker. The Markwell trained Minnisaw, with 35 points, won horse of the year at Kembla while her gallopers Wealth Park (third), Heroically (fourth), Lunchtimesover (sixth) and Gay Blade (eighth) finished in the top 10.

On the five NSW provincial tracks, only Gai Waterhouse (52) and Snowden (47) trained more winners than Markwell (37).

Typical of Markwell, she puts her success down to good support from owners, especially Ross McConville, booking top jockeys and having great stable staff.

"Good people, we’ve been lucky," she said this week. "I've got top staff, lots of casuals and plenty of work riders. And Corey [Brown] is a great jockey. He rides for us in town and Christian [Reith], Scott Pollard and Mitchell Bell [provincials]."

Once named by the late Colin Hayes as the best horsewoman to set foot on his famous Lindsay Park training complex in South Australia, Markwell has been in the racing game for over 30 years but has no intention of easing up.

She still gets up at 3am every day, rides some trackwork and isn’t frightened to grab a rake and bucket to muck out a box.

"You get used to it [early starts] and I love it [training]," she said. Markwell will send her horses almost anywhere to win a race but tries to stay within 3-3½ hours drive of Kembla. Today she sends recent Kensington winner Miskish to Warwick Farm and has eight horses entered for Kembla’s first meeting of the new racing season.

And while there’s no Grand Zulu - which Markwell trained to win Group 1 BMW at Rosehill in 2004 - in her stable, there are some promising types, while old marvel Lodge The Deeds is holding together and could be aimed at the Newcastle Cup.

Hoofnote: Jeff Penza was champion jockey at Kembla, riding 32 winners and 41 placegetters last season, clearly beating Bell and Grant Buckley. Adam Hyeronimus took the apprentices’ premiership with 37 points, nudging out Ben Vassallo (35) and Sam Clipperton.


Taken from the Illawarra Mercury, 20 Aug 11 Edition

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