Day At The Track

Horsham proves a happy hunting ground

04:00 PM 28 Aug 2019 NZST
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James Herbertson,Harness racing
Gun junior reinsman James Herbertson has landed 100 winners for the first time in his short career

He's rising star of Victorian harness racing ranks, but James Herbertson is certain to always have fond memories of the Horsham circuit in years to come.

Herbertson, based at Lexton, near Ballarat, landed a winning double there on Monday afternoon -- and, perhaps more significantly, took his winning tally for a season to 100 for the first time.

"It was good to get the monkey off my back," an excited Herbertson said.

"I haven't had time to celebrate. I drove back home afterwards, and it's been business as usual at the farm with dad, along with more driving engagements," he said.

The 19-year-old, who burst onto the scene with a win at his very first drive in March, 2016, has continued to raise the bar. He drove half a dozen winners in that first season, followed by 48, 62 and now 100-plus.

Herbertson's Horsham double was in consecutive races with Image of Starzzz (Four Starzzz Shark-Illustrator (Artiscape) for the Tindale training team; and Our Supreme Girl (Union Guy-Quintessa Bromac (Holmes Hanover), prepared by Ken Dihm.

"I get a great deal of support from a lot of trainers. You need this and I'm most appreciative," he said.

Had Herbertson not ignited his driving career here so quickly and successfully, life's path may have taken him overseas working in harness racing stables.

"I did get a taste of what it would be like over there when we had a family trip that took in Sweden, Austria and Switzerland in 2010," he said.

"We won the trip in a trainer bonanza promotion that was conducted by the Cranbourne Harness Racing Club.

"One of the highlights was meeting a track farrier at Solvalla, in Bromma, Stockholm, Sweden, who took us on tour. That was amazing. We were just so lucky."

Herbertson said attending the Elitloppet, one of the most prestigious international trotting events in the world, was an absolute "eye opener."

"It is so big. I'd compare it to like the Melbourne Cup, or perhaps bigger," he said.

Solvalla opened in 1927 and is regarded as the biggest harness-racing venue in the Nordic countries, conducting about 80 race-days annually. Solvalla hosts the Elitloppet - which began in 1952 - on the last Sunday in May.

"We just loved the people over there in those countries, but I really enjoyed Austria," Herbertson said.

"I certainly left there thinking I wanted to return as quickly as possible. Just working in a stable would be invaluable. You would gain so much from an experience like that, but I had to put that on hold when things took off so quickly here."

Herbertson said he had received interest over the past 12 months from a few top New Zealand stables.

"That will definitely be something I will look at down the track, along with hopefully working for a stable in America. But for the moment everything is cruising along okay here."

 

Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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