Dani will show true grit

WARMING UP: David Smith onboard Samara Crocker during a warm up lap at the last meeting.
WARMING UP: David Smith onboard Samara Crocker during a warm up lap at the last meeting.

Although this is a column on harness racing I do try to keep the real side of both peoples and horses alike.

If you happen to read my column occasionally you may have read a few weeks back when I wrote of the courage of two of our top women drivers, Danielle Hill and Leah Harvey, each having battled their own way back to the track from adversity and both quite successfully.

Dani Hill had a most serious of crashes in 2010 when as a result she had suffered a sunken eye socket, broken jaw, cheek and nose, resulting in the loss of sight in one eye.

It was a concern at that stage if she would return to the track.

However, she returned and has excelled at her sport ever since, catching the admiration of many along the way.

A tiny, petite woman who always makes time to speak to you, she can be seen rushing from one drive to another, changing colours, assisting in getting the horse into the cart.

But Saturday night, the worse of Dani’s nightmares came to haunt her.

In a shocking crash, in a similar spot of the Globe Derby track as in 2010, it had been reported that Dani’s drive, I’m Sir Blake, had choked down.

The horse had bumped into and bounced off Labella Rock which had been racing on the inside of them, being driven by brother, Wayne Hill.

I’m Sir Blake then fell to the ground leaving horses behind them with nowhere to go.

One of these horses had been three year old sensation Culture King.

Culture King had been driven by Paul Cavallaro, who in a strange twist of fate had been involved in the same accident in 2010.

Cavallaro had been catapulted through the air, landing heavily on the track.

Watching the footage it can be seen where a horse and cart run over the top of Dani.

Both were transported to the RAH by ambulance, Dani Hill had surgery for a badly broken tibia.

Paul Cavallaro has suffered a  broken wrist and severe fractures to his face.

The leg will heal in time, but what lays ahead for Danielle Hill, champion harness racing driver, one who has been flown interstate by trainers for just one race.

What will lay ahead for the girl who has won the driver’s premiership for three years in a row?

Will this be enough for her to give it away and perhaps train horses full time leaving the driving to someone else?

When Dani had said at a meeting recently how she had felt safe with the Invitation Drivers, knowing that they all have the experience to have their game plan mapped out and the expertise to carry out the race in a safe manner, my heart stopped.

I realized then that she is reliving that crash in her inner mind each time that she enters the track, although probably not even being aware of it.

When she hit the deck on Saturday night, right in front of the front straight crowd, I welled up, knowing that she definitely did not deserve this. Not again.

Re-watching the film over and over, it was heartbreaking to see her brother Wayne, on Labella Rock, see what had happened and his head is turned, watching as it all unfolded as he had to continue to race.

He had made a commitment to the owner and trainer and it was his job to continue to drive that horse.

They are a very close sister and brother and I cannot imagine what had been going through his head.

Four horses lay on the track, thankfully not one had been hurt and despite a report in an interstate newspaper, we seen them all walk back to the stables. Thank God!

For a time now harness racing will be without one of its shiniest ever stars.

Our love goes out to Danielle Hill for a speedy recovery and we need not wonder what the future holds.

The wonder girl is planning her comeback already, hoping to be back in the cart within eight weeks. True grit!

On a brighter note, the other star of the write-up, Leah Harvey, scored a win with Backwards in the last event of the evening.

Congratulations to the connections here, it was a fabulous run and well won.

Choking Down is the term used to describe when a horse has pulled very hard in the run and almost suffocates itself.

If a horse chokes down they will drop out very quickly or even collapse on the track.

If you see a horse racing and the driver is almost parallel to the ground trying to restrain it then it may choke down.

If you want to look at it in human terms - imagine someone having a restraint around your neck and you pulling against it for 2 full laps, when it comes time for you to sprint you would obviously run out of energy very quickly.)

The 2019 Allwood Stud Farm Yearling Sales were held last Sunday in Adelaide.

Of the 36 yearlings offered only eighteen had gone under the hammer.

One of the two offered by the Port Pirie Harness Club sold locally and the other colt may be offered either for sale or lease by the club. This is as yet to be decided.

A yearling bred and offered for sale by Rebecca Taylor from Crystal Brook won an award as one of the best Yearlings at Sale.

This a huge achievement and congratulations got to Beck on this achievement.

We attended Globe Derby on Saturday night and then were at Kapunda trots on Monday.

However, that was nothing compared to what some of the drives had accomplished.

Globe Derby Saturday night, Mildura on Sunday and back to Kapunda on Monday.

I asked one driver how did he do it – “lots of coffee” Amazing!

Waylon Hornhardt trained four winners at Kapunda with Wayne Hill having driven a treble as he did the night before at Mildura along with two thirds and a second.

A thrill of the week had been meeting Emain Macha and one of his owners John Penny.

It works out that that John Penny and this  John Penny are actually related and another link of the family tree looks like being filled in.

All through a horse called Emain Macha.

Anyone looking to enjoy a historical mystery tour at any time, call John Penny, track curator, Port Pirie club, a lovely day of touring the country side before reaching your destination is guaranteed.

In other words – you may get lost!!

Trots this Saturday night, should be a nice night, a wee bit cooler than the last meeting.

Eight races on the programme with one of the highlights being a three year old pace. First race is at 6.10pm

See you at the track!