Day At The Track

Country boy at “Hart” loving city life

04:31 AM 25 Apr 2019 NZST
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Cameron Hart,Harness racing
Cameron Hart
Former Riverina young gun Cameron Hart is happy to call Sydney home at the moment – and it appears city life is agreeing with him.
 
The junior driver posted the 200th winner of his relatively short harness racing career at Brisbane’s Albion Park last Saturday and he’s a model of consistency in the sulky, with his win-place ratio running at more than 50 percent.
 
And the 20-year-old showed particularly fine touch over the past week. 
 
An enviable winning streak kicked off at Penrith on Thursday when Hart landed the win with eight- year-old gelding Raffaella (Mach Three-Slipinn (Holmes Hanover) for his boss Shane Sanderson.
 
He then got the money in Brisbane on Saturday, again for Sanderson, with Castalong Shadow (Shadow Play-Leslie Jay (Grinfromeartoear) and followed up at Sunday’s Wagga Cup meeting with a win on Beetson (Art Major-Erin Jean (Classic Garry) in the feature event.
 
“I’ve been clocking up a few airline frequent flyer points with the travel I’m doing, but I’m not complaining because travel is a big part of the industry and we all have to do it in one way or another,” Hart said.
 
“It was a bit of a pain when there were no suitable flights to get back to Wagga for the cup, and I had to do a four-and-a-half hour road trip after getting back from Brisbane,” Hart said.
 
“But it’s worth it when you get the win.”
 
Hart is hitting the road again today (Thursday) for another Carnival of Cups meeting, hosted this time by Coolamon. He is booked to drive Brobenah Boy for Guy Retallick in the $10,200 Cup and Flaneur for Gary Lang in a C1 event.
 
“It will be a huge day. It always is at Coolamon and I’m going to enjoy being there, that’s for sure,” Hart said.
 
The trip to Coolamon will be almost back on home turf. The rising star reinsman grew up at Junee, just 30 kilometres down the road and it seems a career in harness racing was almost inevitable.
 
Hart’s mother Michelle is a niece of the late Alan Harpley who steered the mighty Welcome Advice to a 1972 Inter-Dominion grand final win. And it also didn’t hurt Hart’s prospects that Junee and the wider Riverina is home to some of Australia’s best horsemen and horses.
 
“There’s certainly a good bit of pedigree there and in addition, Bruce Harpley, a well-known trainer- driver, is my second cousin,” Hart said.
 
“So, I guess it was pretty much a sure thing that I was going to head into the sport,” he said.
 
The pathway to a harness racing career began at the age of five when his parents purchased a pony and the youngster got heavily involved in the mini trotters.
 
“That was a great learning ground and all of us had heaps of fun,” he said.
 
Later on, Kim Hillier loaned Hart a pony called Energizer and the pair took all before them.
 
“We won all the big ones. The Inter-Dominion, Miracle Mile and State Championships for the ponies. I can still remember the first time I competed at Menangle with Energizer and it seemed like a huge circuit,” Hart said.
 

Flashback to 2014 – young Riverina pony trots competitors Tegan Judd, Jordan Seary (who is also a promising young driver) and Cameron.
 
As he got older, every spare minute at home would be spent off helping his uncle, Michelle’s brother, Trevor White, a household name in harness racing circles in the Riverina.
 
“I would help Uncle Trev with trackwork when I was only 12, and three years later mum and dad agreed to let me go there and work full-time,” he said.
 
“It was an awesome time and I learnt so much about training, care and feeding.
 
“Uncle Trev also showed faith in me as a driver as well, and he gave me my first race drive on a horse called Ideal Investment at Albury in April, 2016.”
 
The horse won, two days later, at his second drive, Hart tasted more success at Canberra with Ravishing Girl for Sloys Company and trainer Noel Morris.
 
“I suppose I could say that it went downhill from there!” he laughed. 
 
It obviously wasn’t the case, but the popular young reinsman’s good humor, along with his natural ability, provided him with plenty of opportunities.
 
He showed rapid improvement and a cool head beyond his years racking up an eye-catching tally of 60 wins in his first season of driving
.
“While I enjoyed driving at country meetings, it was always on my mind to get to the city when the time was right,” Hart said.
 
It was a matter of waiting for a break and it came when Cameron’s sister Ashley, 21, also a driver (now in Victoria with Andy and Kate Gath) approached Menangle-based Shane (Sanderson) regarding job vacancies.
 
“That was my lucky day because I couldn’t have wished for a better place to work – Shane and his wife Naomi have been awesome,” Hart said.
 
Hart is now the stable driver for the Sanderson team, and says the timing for him was fortunate.
 

Shane Sanderson and Cameron Hart (Courtesy Ash Brennan Photography)
 
“Shane and Naomi have kept building the team and getting stronger horses, so that’s been fantastic for me. It’s not only driving good horses that helps you to be a better driver, but also driving against the best as well.
 
“While Shane provides me with the most driving opportunities, David Waite is also good and several other outside stables.
 
“The recent Wagga win was my third Group 3 success, with the other couple at Menangle. I’m just so glad I made the move.
 
“Sydney is a fantastic city and I’m really enjoying the racing side of it. And in my leisure time I’m finding my golfing is improving!”

 

Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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