Day At The Track

Jess right at home with her horses

04:00 PM 07 Aug 2019 NZST
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Jess Tubbs and Greg Sugars,Harness racing
That’s 100 winners for Jess Tubbs as a trainer. She is with the horse who brought up the milestone, Illawong Mustang, and her husband, champion reinsman Greg Sugars who was the winning driver

Up-and-coming Victorian harness racing trainer Jess Tubbs admits she loves nothing better than being around horses - something quite the contrary to when she was growing up.

"I actually disliked them big time when I was young. All my friends would be off doing fun things and I'd have to go home and care for the horses," Jess said.

"It was hard work, but I guess I was born into it, so I didn't have much choice. But over the years I grew to enjoy them and love them."

Jess now operates the successful Larajay Farms stable with her husband Greg Sugars at Myrniong and it would be fair to say that she is relishing being part of the industry.

A recent Yarra Valley win by two-year-old gelding Illawong Mustang (Mach Three-Light In Every Day (Artiscape USA) brought up a well-deserved milestone for Jess - it was her 100th winner as a trainer.

Illawong Mustang (Greg Sugars) made it two in a row with a win at Warragul on Monday

"I really had no idea. But it was a pleasant surprise when a friend told me. I've held a licence for about 18 months and we have been ticking along nicely, but it's not just about me," Jess said.

"Greg and I are so lucky to have his parents Ross and Kerry helping us out, along with his sister Kylie, and a few others," she said.

"There's a great deal of work goes into running big stables and we're trying to keep it to 20 horses. We did get up to 30, but it was too many for us to keep a handle on it."

Jess and Greg are enjoying a more than handy season - Greg (as of July 31) has driven 240 wins (365 placings) this season, with a 46% win-place strike rate.

Jess combines training with being the Racing and Marketing Manager at The Meadows Greyhounds, a position she recently moved to after three years with the club.

"A normal day for me starts at 5.30am because it's my job to mix feeds, then feed-up and help plan the daily training schedules," Jess said.

"I'm also around for a day midweek, but it's all about teamwork and everyone does their bit."

Jess and Greg enjoy a picturesque and functional setup at their property, which is about 75 kilometres north west of Melbourne.

"We have a great place here - we just love it," Jess said.

"We bought the property about three and a half years ago and started from scratch. We've put everything into it, and we are quite proud."

Jess got to know Greg while working for Harness Racing Victoria, a position she held for 12 years.

"We met at the races one day and it just went from there," she said.

Jess is now following in the footsteps of her late dad, highly-respected horseman Alan, and her talented sister, former driver Amy, who now operates an agistment property.

Alan died two years ago this October after enduring many years of kidney disease-related ill health. Who could forget the Alan and Amy Tubbs 2007-2013 roadshow when the pair combined with brilliant pacer Melpark Major (Iraklis-Golden Forrest (Forrest Skipper) to finish with 36 wins for $980,000?

And this week Jess and Amy caught up with the old marvel Melpark Major.

"He's retired at the Melton property of owners Don and Bev Smith. The horse had the biggest impact on our family that's for sure. We had a cup of tea and fed Melpark Major a heap of carrots. We all catch up quite often," Jess said.

"Dad and Amy won a lot of races with him, including a Victoria Cup. If I could have one wish, I'd love to be able to add that Cup to my list."

However, at the moment, Jess is focused on getting Tee Cee Bee Macray (Ponder-Wya Wya Macray (Pacific Fella) back into the winner's circle.

"The horse was a favorite with dad but hasn't won since he passed away. The new national ratings have helped him because he had reached the point where he was non-competitive at the top level," Jess said.

"I'm so determined and think I'm getting closer now that he's over a few issues."


Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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