Racing in Hills’ blood

HARNESS RACING FAMILY: Gary, Danielle, Wayne and young Paige Hill with Altana Blue.
HARNESS RACING FAMILY: Gary, Danielle, Wayne and young Paige Hill with Altana Blue.

Harness racing drivers Wayne Hill and sister, Danielle, were brought up with horses in their blood and were lucky enough to have a great start to their driving careers. When Dani had first obtained her driver’s license in the season of 2000/01, dad, Gary, had been a leading trainer in South Australia.

Gary and wife, Sue, had been involved in harness racing for quite some time with quite a large contingent of horses at their Penfield stables. Although still actively involved with the game, Gary spends most of his time at the track working as the strapper to his son and daughter. The baton has been handed on. Nothing stopped Dani, even after a serious accident at Globe Derby in 2010. She has gone on to win an exuberant amount of awards and titles, as has Wayne, her equally successful brother. Trotting is securely embedded in the Hill family’s blood. And I don’t think that it stops there. Wayne’s nine year old daughter, Paige, has ridden at the Adelaide Show, showing great potential but at this stage is not interested in driving. It is her brother, however, who has his sights set on taking to the sulky, another generation of Hills to succeed on the track.

Last Saturday night, the first Saturday night in the three month new programme, seven races had been run. Of these seven races, Danielle Hill had one win, two seconds and three thirds. Wayne drove a treble of wins, a second and a third. Just for interest’s sake, the other three races had gone to Jayden Brewin, Leah Harvey and Ken Rogers. And so, the first race in the programme, the Ubet Claiming Pace was run. Rate Highly driven by Wayne Hill and having raced in Victoria in recent times, had started as favourite. It had been Arnoux though who would have caught the spectator’s eye. An 11-year-old gelding, recently clipped, and looking like a pot of mustard which had started at $237/ 1, he had entered with his head held high and to the side and during the race had proceeded to fall further and further behind as the race had gone on. Altana Blue, the eventual winner had run his race at the tail end of the field until into the back straight when he had rounded up a few, racing three wide to the bottom bend. Into the straight and three wide, Altana Blue had taken the lead with Major Kiwi in hot pursuit. Mohegan Sun had run a good race to finish third.

A false start had seen a restart of the second event, the $7000 Laucke Mills Pace, when Weaponry had broke his stride in the set up behind the mobile. He had taken the lead in the restart and may have run a placing if not for breaking once again in the back straight for the last time. The Dali Express and Ultimate Won had fought it out in to the back bend but it was in the run to the straight that Atomic Blue Chip, with Jayden Brewer on board, had found a run through the middle and had managed to run down the leader to win by a head. Antaeus Blue Chip had sneaked up to finish in third spot.

Eleven horses lined up for the $7000 Follow the Stars 3 year old pace. When the mobile had let the horses go, Waitpinga Poppy and Our Front Page had taken the lead, with Scrawl positioned beautifully in behind the leader. Little Queen Me, a dainty little mare, had started from the sixth position and found herself in quite a good position also. To the bell and Melody’s Daughter was sitting four wide, finding her place for the rest of the race. Speak Easy had taken off down the back straight in an impressive run, however, that had been all that he had on offer. It had been Melody’s Daughter, giving her three out of three for this season with Scrawl in second place, his sixth second place for the season. Our Front Page had held in there to finish in third. Melody’s Daughter, starting favourite, had both a pre-race and an after-race  swab.

The commentary for the evening had been by Ray Fewings, a race commentator from years gone by. Just by listening to him you could tell that he was a wealth of knowledge as he had brought up Radiant Venture and Minor Derby. I was speaking to him a bit later and had mentioned that there had been a horse that had won 20 races on the Pirie track. He asked what was that horse’s name. When I said Snippet, he had replied, straight of the top of his head, Les Joyce’s mare. Orange with a black sash. They were his race colours – not bad for someone who does only commentate occasionally these days and the fact that those colours have not been around for many a year.

So we got to race four, another race with a good stake, another $7000 race, the Northpoint Ford Pace. Leah Harvey had been aboard the favourite, Look at the Stars, starting from pole position. Leah had sooled him to the front, challenged for the lead by Ingoodnik with Rhyflective tucked nicely in behind. To the judge and Look at the Stars had kept his lead followed by Ingoodnik, but Ingoodnik was spent and had dropped out over Bettorhavtime. But in the clear and Bettorhavrime had nothing left in the tank  but had been in trouble right from the start .Tough little Look at the Stars had gone on to take the win with Rhyflective running a well earned second and Rockin Safari a good third. The race showed the fastest time of the evening with a mile rate of 1.57.9. The Sweet Lou Mares Classic Heat One, seen the beginning of the Wayne Hill treble take off. Having the drive on the favourite, Supernova Silvia, Hill took her to lead from the very start. At the siren there had been three across the track, Supernova Silvia, Blue Beach Angel and Althegirlsinmylife, all vying for the lead position. In the back straight She Envy had taken off from the tail of the field, gaining 10 metres in a 20-metre run. In the bottom bend into the straight and to the line and Supernova Silvia had shot away with Gotango hot on her tail, sister Dani not likely to concede lightly. But Supernova Silvia was too strong and had held off a late run from Cora Jaccka, who had found the inside sprint lane and Gotango in third.

A standing start with one on 10 metres and another on 35 metres, not something that you see a lot of these days but interesting all the same. Only six in this race, so this would help the horses on the handicap. Bettor Party, staring favourite, not the most stand out looking horse, an eight year old gelding, had the pleasure of the 35-metre handicap. It was Floyd Mayweather, a 10 year old black gelding who was the one to catch your eye. Up until Saturday night he had won $322,060 over the period of his racing career. And he was out to add to that total. Magic Trump, starting at $51 at the bookmaker, and had taken to the lead with Floyd Mayweather sitting in third place. Most of the race was raced in indian file with only Bettor Party having made a move with a lap and a half to go, in the back straight. At this stage Floyd Mayweather, named after the boxer, had found himself hemmed in but at the siren Hill had him sitting on the outside of Make Mine Joe behind the leader. Into the straight and the old warrior was fresh and raced to the line, giving Hill the double. Make Mine Joe tried to the very last finishing second and the favourite Bettor Party claimed third position. A mile rate of 2.02.02, showing that there may not be that much difference between the mobile and standing start. And so we come to the last event on the card, The Henry Osborne Fodder Store Pace, Heat 1. A couple of horses to grab your interest in this race, Canada Bay, Alldaybliss, Reva and Starlight Rainbow. Another race of 2050 meters, Canada Bay had started favourite. On release Starlight Rainbow had raced to the lead but it had been Alldaybliss that had challenged for the front position and Ken Rogers on Starlight Rainbow had to concede that place to sit in behind the leader. The race continued in indian file with Canada Bay pulling the arms off his driver. At the siren Alldaybliss continued in his comfortable run in front with Reva looking to be a bit of a danger, putting in a short burst of speed and shaking up the field a bit. Into the straight for the post and Canada Bay was four wide on the bend but it was Alldaybliss who had held on for the win, giving Wayne Hill his treble for the evening. Starlight Rainbow finished in second with Barney Fella in third. And so concluded the first Saturday night meeting for some time. Next week, I hope to do a profile on trotting stalwart, Lefty Matters - if he doesn’t take the batteries out of the door chime or take the phone off the hook.

Coming events in the club are Workouts on Sunday, August 19, next race meeting is on August 25 and not forgetting the AGM on Monday 27th. There are still positions on the committee, so put up your hand to make a difference. See you at the track!