Day At The Track

Bronte on the burst in Tassie

08:00 AM 03 Nov 2020 NZDT
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Bronte Miller scores narrowly on Arctic for her dad Clayton at Launceston,Harness racing
Bronte Miller scores narrowly on Arctic for her dad Clayton at Launceston
Stacy Lear photo

A teenage Tasmanian schoolgirl who just four weeks ago landed her first harness racing winner in the sulky, has gone within a whisker of landing a double.

Bronte Miller scored her second career win when Arctic (Artesian-Atlantique (Walton Hanover) won the $5500 Carlton Draught Stakes on Sunday night, then in the very next race went down narowly, finishing runner-up with Jakes A Joy.

"I really thought I might have got there right on the line-and the guys in the judges tower said later there was only a very, very small margin in it," Bronte said.

"But to drive another winner and then finish second was still so exciting," she said.

Arctic put up a huge performance to the delight of some excited Miller stable owners and family members who were on track.

Ecstatic owners John Stevenson and his partner June Walker, with trainer Clayton Miller and his wife Claire    --Stacy Lear photo

After being snagged back at the start to settle near last at least six lengths off the lead, Bronte waited for a trail and that came at the bell when Hannah Von dongen made a three wide move with The Cobblers Piece.

"Arctic's trained by my dad (Clayton) and it was a huge surprise to get the money because no-one gave us much hope. We drew barrier 13 and he started as a bit of an outsider at $17," Bronte said.

"He felt great in the run and I didn't worry when I had to pull him out four and five wide on the home corner. He just got up by a short half head and when I was still on the track I could hear mum and dad and the owners all cheering.

"Some of them hadn't been to the track before to see the horse run so they were over the moon-and still are! It's the first share they've ever had in a racehorse.

"My brother Blake was away camping, but he watched the race on his phone and he was the first one to call and congratulate me."

Only a pixel in it – (top) Bronte Miller gets the photo decision on Arctic, ahead of Emjays Black Chip. But (bottom) in the very next race, when she drove Jakes A Joy the decision went the other way in favor of Resolute Ruler.  Bronte is on the outside in both photographs

But unfortunately, sometimes, what comes around, goes around! And Jakes A Joy (Mister Big-Joy To Behold (Fake Left) was runner-up for Bronte by the narrowest of margins. The gelding still has a special place in Bronte's heart, though, having provided her with her maiden victory at Hobart back on September 27 at her tenth drive.

"He's a lovely horse and since that win, I've had three more drives on him for two second placings," Bronte said.

The 16-year-old said she was "horse mad" from an early age and had been involved in the pony club since she was three or four.

"I've always loved horses and after pony club I went on to equestrian and then did the pony trots. I enjoyed the pony trots and driving at Carrick and Launceston," she said.

"Dad's a hobby trainer and I first started doing trackwork for him. We get a bit competitive and I've found that I can get a bit aggressive when I'm driving!"

Proud dad Clayton, PetBarn manager at Launceston, said he worked out pretty quickly that the horses would run for his daughter.

"I think she was 14 and had a stable hand licence when we started working horses together. Bronte beat me one morning, so the next week I swapped horses-but that didn't quite work because she beat me again!" Clayton said.

Bronte, a Year 10 student at Star Of The Sea Catholic College in George Town, says she's "at the pointy end of school with exams about to start soon".

"I hope to be a teacher and definitely want to still do harness racing if I can work it. I sometimes get anxious before a race, but later it just feels so comfortable. I'm really enjoying it," she said.

"I've been lucky to learn firstly from dad and I've now probably been part-time with the Ben Yole team for 12 months. He's 25 minutes away, but I'm out there on school holidays, weekends and even public holidays.

"Ben's drivers have been fantastic in giving me advice. I'm really lucky getting support from guys like Mark Yole, Gareth and Todd Rattray, Rohan Hadley and others."


Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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