Day At The Track

Burgess rewarded with Edgar Tatlow Medal

03:33 PM 23 Sep 2013 NZST
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Rod Burgess with one of his team Tessanzo
Rod Burgess with one of his team Tessanzo
Peter Staples Photo

North-West Coast harness racing stalwart Rod Burgess has been rewarded for his dedication to the industry by being awarded the 2013 Edgar Tatlow Medal.

The award was presented at the Tasmanian Harness Awards Dinner at Wrest Point Hotel, Hobart on Saturday night.

The Edgar Tatlow Medal commemorates the major influence of the Tasmanian pioneer breeding legend Edgar Tatlow, whose stallions and their progeny have dominated Australasian Harness Racing since the 1930’s.

Burgess was born at Wynyard in 1948 and spent his formative years at Smithton. He started driving track work at 14 and, at 17, drove his first winner at Spreyton.

Over the years Burgess became involved in most areas of the industry – trainer, driver, owner, breeder and administrator.

From his base at Smithton on Tasmania’s far North West, he quickly established a reputation as a quality conditioner of horses.

He travelled statewide to compete in Tasmania’s best races with the trip from Smithton to Hobart taking a minimum of 6 hours one way and, in the early days, having an overnight stop at Hagley on the Friday and Saturday nights – a three day venture.

His best horses included Byatic, Vespasian and Captain Byrd.  Vespasian won the Easter Cup in 1972 and won twice at the Melbourne Showgrounds at Ascot Vale the same year.

In 1973 he moved to Ulverstone and the winners continued.

Burgess was the state’s leading trainer for two consecutive seasons (1974/75 and 1975/76) and he was the state’s leading driver in 1975/76.

His best performers were Captain Byrd, Fringe Benefit (Tasmanian Derby), Ben Ean (Carrick Cup and second in every major cup that season including the Tasmanian Pacing Championship) Junee Royal (City of Glenorchy Cup), Junee Princess, Karlindon (Devonport Cup) and Our Lady Lindy (Scottsdale and Hobart Metropolitan Cups).

Nubeena won consecutive Easter Cups at Elphin in 1982 and 1983.

Burgess represented Tasmania in driver’s invitation races in Sydney and Perth, winning the Sydney event at Harold Park.

He was a professional farrier and he continues to successfully train a small team at his Ulverstone property.

His contribution to harness racing includes administration where he has demonstrated his commitment to improving harness racing statewide.

He joined the North West Tasmania Light Harness Association at age 17 where he is Life Member and he served as President for a total of 30 years.

Burgess also is a past President and committee member of the now defunct Tasmanian Light Harness Association.

In 2006 he received a Meritorious Service Award from Harness Racing Tasmania.  

Rod was an active volunteer at the Ulverstone track when it existed and fought hard to maintain the track for the sake of the industry.

He has driven the mobile at trials, and occasionally at race meetings, at Devonport and Burnie.

He has assisted with track maintenance at Devonport and was a committee member of the Burnie Harness Racing Club for six years.

He has been a member of the Harness Advisory Group for the last six years.  

Previous winners of the Edgar Tatlow Medal reads like a who’s who in Tasmanian harness racing – Doug Martin (2001), Peter Cooley (2002), Keith Stanley (2003), Pauline Barker (2004), Darrell Rockliff (2005), Don Cornish (2006), Eric Fleming (2007), Eric Bean (2008), Tem Fish (2009), Henry Pullen (2010), Doug McKillop (2011) and Gerald Gee (2012)

Peter Staples

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