Day At The Track

Historic Carrick a crowd pleaser

08:58 AM 22 Feb 2021 NZDT
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Tim Yole in action in the Lead ‘Em Footwear Harness Up Competition, Harness racing
Tim Yole in action in the Lead ‘Em Footwear Harness Up Competition
Stacy Lear Photo

How quickly do you reckon you could gear up a harness racing horse?

Racegoers at the recent cup meeting at the historic Carrick Harness Racing Club in Tasmania know.  And if you thought breaking the two-minute barrier would be pushing it, you’d be wrong!

Carrick Harness Racing Club in Tasmania is one of the oldest in Australia— but the club is out in front of the pack when it comes to innovative ideas to please its loyal racing crowd.

The Lead ‘Em Footwear Harness Up competition was a highlight at the Carrick Cup meeting recently – and the enthusiastic president Leigh Dornauf says that’s just one of the fresh ideas the club is using to build on its success.

“We only have three twilight meetings a year, so we try our hardest to put a lot into it,” Dornauf said.

“We’ve tried a lot of things over the years. Two years ago, we had a polocrosse competition and then another time there was show jumping, and I would say they’ve all been successful one way or another because we keep attracting big crowds to our meetings,” he said.

The feature event on the card was the $12,000 Page Transport Carrick Cup. Victory went to bay gelding James Dean (Santanna Blue Chip-Alegria (Caprock), trained by Ben Yole and driven by Troy McDonald.

Each winning trainer received a $500 feed voucher while, at the club’s previous fixture, Kate McLeod was the lucky recipient of a new Missile race cart, worth $6000, on offer for trainers who had prepared less than 10 winners last season.

The Cup meeting also featured the Tasmanian Harness Yearling Sale, between the last two races, with 12 youngsters going under the auctioneer’s hammer.

Dornauf said the club was most pleased with the prices.

“There were some lovely types, and the average price was $20,000, which we were very happy with,” he said.

The harness up competition was a returning feature and again a crowdpleaser at Carrick. The winner needs to not only gear up the horse correctly but do it in the quickest time.

“We started it last year and it created so much interest we decided to go with it again, and this year we had four contestants harnessing up their horses out on the track,” Dornauf said.

No prizes for guessing which stable the winner came from, though.

Reinsman Tim Yole showed that being number one reinsman for the massive Team Yole operation (known to take as many as 60 horses to race meetings in Tassie) also requires solid “strapper” skills! He took out the $400 first prize – and completed the job in just under two minutes.

Winners Lily Blundstone and Tim Yole (Stacey Lear Photography)

“Tim was going to win it last year, but after getting all the gear on the horse, he went to sit back in the sulky and the cart went straight up in the air,” Dornauf laughed.

“He’d missed clipping it onto the saddle properly and was disqualified, so I guess he was pretty determined this time!”

Tim Yole, assisted by Lily Blundstone, getting the sulky clipped on right this time! (Stacey Lear Photography)

Dornauf, who has been club president for the past six years, comes from a strong harness racing family.

“I’ve been involved most of my life. I reckon I would be up to about 40 years regarding the training and driving part, and I’ve got five brothers who are all tied up with the sport as well,” he said.

“But we’ve got a hard-working bunch of people at our club, who just love harness racing.  We do everything from organising the activities, to running the bar and a shop and we’re pretty proud of the fact that we own our club property.  There wouldn’t be too many other clubs in the same boat I reckon. We’re on 40 acres and people can train on the track. It’s a great set-up.”

Dornauf said the twilight meetings have a great atmosphere and the club would continue to innovate.

“We’ve got a few other novelty ideas in the back of our minds for the future and we won’t ever stop coming up with the entertainment. The spectators just love it and keep coming and it makes a day at the races fun for everyone.”


Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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