Day At The Track

Outback trip pays dividends for Danny

09:38 PM 13 Mar 2019 NZDT
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Broken Hill, harness racing
Broken Hill's tight 602 metre harness racing track, regarded as the smallest in the country

Country New South Wales harness racing trainer-driver Danny Gibson has always had a bit of a fascination with the famous Silver City mining town of Broken Hill.

“It’s probably because we live at a small town called Elrington, near Cessnock (2 hrs north of Sydney) and there’s mining history there,” Gibson said.

“It’s a little different to Broken Hill because it’s known for coal, but the similarities are there. At Elrington, though, there’s been a shift over the years because a decline in mining has seen a huge growth in the wine industry.”

The other attraction to the ‘Hill was Gibson’s inquisitiveness regarding the town’s tight 602 metre harness racing track, regarded as the smallest in the country.

“I’ll have to be honest and say that racing some of our horses at Broken Hill and meeting the local people ended up being on my ‘bucket list’ of things to do,” Gibson laughed.

So, when he got two weeks’ holidays from his employment with a hydrocarbon company coinciding with the Broken Hill Carnival of Cups, it was obvious where Gibson and his wife Janelle were headed.

Danny and Janelle Gibson

They couldn’t have scripted it any better, scoring an all-the-way win with seven-year-old mare Evils Afoot (Live or Die-Smooth Idol (Smooth Fella USA) in the $3000 Seymour Ladyship Pace, one of the features at last Saturday night’s lead-up meeting to the cup.

“It was a big surprise because she put on her nervous pre-race performance and that’s never a good sign,” Gibson said.

“I was in two minds whether to go forward from the two alley because she had nearly run her race beforehand with all her antics, but I thought ‘what the heck’ and sent her to the lead.

“We just lasted, but that’s all you have to do.

“It was her first win in 33 starts and she took to the tight circuit like a duck to water!”

Gibson said winning the event brought a welcome bonus, in the form of a free stallion service donated by generous supporters Kevin and Kay Seymour.

“The main part of the trip, which took 13 hours all up, was to take a break and have a holiday.  We’ve done that and thoroughly enjoyed every minute,” he said.

“We’ve found the trots people to be fantastic, but that also goes right across the board. Everywhere we’ve gone around the town we’ve found everyone to be great.”

Local horseman Alan Rennie is playing host to the visiting horses, who are “right at home” being trained out of paddocks.

Gibson said he was accustomed to driving on small tracks.

“I’ve been in the game all my life.  My father Brian raced horses and when I started driving in the 70s, some of the clubs like Tamworth, Maitland and even Newcastle had little tracks,” he said.

“Tamworth was special because that’s where I got my first winner during the 1975 Easter Carnival.”

But without doubt a huge highlight of Gibson’s career was winning the final of an Indigenous Drivers’ series, transferring his small-track specialist skills to the wide expanses of the 1400-metre Menagle circuit.

“I think it was around 2009 when I had my first drive at that track, and it was amazing,” Gibson said.

“The horses don’t feel like they are going around corners and they also don’t feel they are going as quick as they are.

“I’ll never forget that particular race because it provided me with a win in 1.54-7 - the first time I’d ever run a sub-1.55. That was certainly a huge thrill,” Gibson said.

The Gibson team will be at Broken Hill’s only TAB meeting for the season on Friday night (featuring Sky Channel coverage) with last start winner Evils Afoot and traveling companion Kenny Rees (Major In Art-Straight Left).

But win, lose or draw, you can bet Danny and Janelle are sure to be talking about their trip to the Silver City for many years to come.

Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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