Saturday, 7 September 2013


It seems to have been forever since I had a horse of my own and any real involvement in racing.

I still have a very good knowledge of local racing, attending regular meetings and watching the rest on pay TV.

I have taken interest in the career of a horse owned and trained by the son of a long time friend and former trainer.
I could see some problems that the horse was having and I knew the training methods being used by the young trainer and his father.
They had some success with the horse and neither father or son were open to any suggestions from anyone, so I was very surprised when the son phoned me and asked if I would be willing to help him.
He wanted to take his family for an interstate holiday but wanted the horse to keep up with his work and retain his fitness----his father has been sick, and father and son usually argue badly over everything with horses, so he wanted me to work the horse for him while he was away.
I really don't like their methods but I enjoyed the idea of being back in harness myself, so I agreed.

The deal was that I would work the horse to the sons planned schedule, early each morning and work the horse by himself and that I would not let the father interfere.

First morning, I was there at 6.30am and on the track by 7.00am. Of course the father arrived and tried to supervise me and give me his ideas, but I worked the horse to the instructions I had been given.
I spoke to a friend of mine during the warm down jog laps and asked if he was working any other horses later in the morning----he was and I arranged to meet him at the track at 11.00am

He laughed when I arrived with the horse again, with father no where to be seen----I wanted to work with another horse at about half pace and try to teach this horse to race.
That work suited my friend and we worked together over 2 miles at half pace and sprinted to the post with the two horses going head and head along side each other.
I arranged to meet him again the next day

On day two, father was there for the early morning work out and was nowhere to be seen  for the 11.00am two horse war. This time I worked on the outside of my friends horse and we went strongly for 2miles, stepping up the pace to the line, but finishing with heads together.

This went on for four mornings but on the fifth I asked my friend to work his horse behind me over the 2 miles and then come around me and race to the line. I had watched my horse race a few times and he gets very lazy when in front and needs to be driven with the whip to keep him going to the line, so holding him back to a three quarter pace work out and yelling at him all the way seemed to confuse him and when the other horse came to him for the sprint, I just gave him one flick, screamed at him and urged him to the line. They finished with heads together
The sixth morning I worked my horse behind my friend but still kept talking to him and growling at him, even though we were at three quarter pace and I had him under a good hold----I sure he wondered what the hell was going on, even more so when I eased him out for the sprint home and only yelled at him. He raced up easily on the outside of my friends horse and they finished with heads together.

We mixed up their work for another week, both horses having victories, neither knocked around with the whip and both learning to race each other.
I phoned the race driver of this horse, who trains in his own right and asked if he could bring another horse or two to work with us, but not tell the owners father.
He arrived with his daughter and two handy racehorses-----I told him what we had been doing and I told him that I thought this horse could race without being chased with the whip and would sprint to the line a lot better if yelled at and only being flicked with the whip----he laughed but agreed to the match race and see if this horse had changed his ways.
We set up with the daughter in front, my friend in behind her, the driver with his horse and me in last place.
We worked strongly over a mile and a half and then stepped up the pace----as I eased out to make my run, the driver came out in front of me and my friend popped out in front of him----as we came to the home turn, the driver eased out to three wide to make his run with my horse right on his back and as he went to the lead, I screamed at my horse, gave him one flick and he went straight past them all.

I have to admit that I was as surprised as everyone, not only that this horse could sprint like that but he had learned to race so quickly.
The driver said that he couldn't wait to tell the owner and his father. I asked him if he could keep it to himself until race night which was a week away---and the owner would be back to take over in 3 days.---he agreed.

The owner came home, phoned me and thanked me and told me that the horse was in on Saturday night.

I went to the race meeting---I asked the owner if he thought it was worth having a small bet on his horse. He told me that he thought that the field might go a bit quick for his horse but that he could run a place.
The driver came to the stable to get his racing colours and told the owner that he had never seen this horse work so well as the morning of our little race set-up.
The owner and his father were not impressed that I had been working him my way and giving him extra work and I walked away with them fighting with each other over letting me work the horse at all.

Any way, I had a fairly modest bet on the horse, the driver's daughter had a few dollars on him and my friend, who normally doesn't bet opened his wallet.
The horse did his bit---he showed unusual pace out of the barrier and took up a great position in behind the leader and race favourite---the driver was talking t him and yelling at him to keep his place, no whip driving was required.
We got a lot of good luck with horse coming to tackle the favourite a few times during the run and as they rounded the home turn, there was horses coming from everywhere to make their runs---the driver eased the horse into the sprint lane under a hard hold, screamed at him and gave him one flick with the whip. He even amazed me as scooted past them and won running away.

The driver told me later that he had told the owner and his father that that was the way he finished off his run in training---but both told him that it was just the way the race was run---it suited him.
Who cares---we backed a winner that paid $23 on the tote.
Maybe he will go on as a better racehorse---I hope so