Day At The Track

Yole juggernaut rolls into Victoria

05:00 PM 15 Aug 2019 NZST
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Ben Yole and stable workers
Ben and stable workers and drivers Olivia Weidenbach, Troy McDonald, Samantha Gangell and Ben’s dad Wayne
Stacey Lear photo

All-conquering Tasmanian harness racing trainer Ben Yole has kicked off a three-month campaign on the mainland in the best possible way.

Three minor placings in the country, then a close-up metropolitan fourth certainly put "the writing on the wall" that the Yole team meant business.

So, it was no surprise to see the visitor post a winning double at Cranbourne last Sunday night.

"It was the perfect way to get things underway - let's just hope it continues," Yole said.

"We have 18 horses that will campaign in Victoria. That leaves about 40 at home," he said.

"At this stage the plan is to spend about three months racing over there. Of course, that could blow out - we'll just see how we shape up and take it from there."

The Yole stable has been going gangbusters in recent years. This is the fourth consecutive season they have topped the 100 mark with winners.

And the 2018-19 season has been a standout, eclipsing the previous Tasmanian record for most wins in a season. They are currently sitting on an amazing 174 victories.


Ben Yole                                                             (Courtesy Stacey Lear Photography)

Yole said his younger brother Tim and their Tasmanian-based driver Conor Crook would be looking after the campaign horses.

"I've been flying over backwards and forwards a few times and I realize that's the way it's going to be. We are based at the Wahring stables of Paul and Rosie Weidenbach. They're fantastic and their place is great," he said.

The Cranbourne winners were aptly named in Ready To Fire and Good Feelings....surely presenting omen bets for followers of the Yole team!

Five-year-old mare Ready To Fire (Somebeachsomewhere-Fight Fire With Fire (Artiscape USA) took out the SBG Accountants and Business Advisors Pace at the juicy odds of $23 for driver Greg Sugars.

The second leg of the double saw young Ballarat concession reinsman Darby McGuigan (who could win on a rocking horse at the moment) get home on Good Feelings (Mr Feelgood-Good Lookin Girl (Perfect Art USA) in the Hygain Pace at $3.70.

Yole said that while stable reinsman Conor Crook would be used regularly, he also planned to engage other notable senior drivers when they were available.


Conor Crook and Tim Yole with their recent Victorian winners

So far, he has enlisted the likes of Sugars, McGuigan, Chris Svanosio, James Herbertson, Kima Frenning and Kevin Weidenbach Jnr.

Despite living on the 'Apple Isle' for the past 12 years after shifting from Hamilton in Victoria, Yole has only been a full-time trainer for the past four years.

"When we first came across, myself and my brothers Mark and Tim all had full-time work. We used to squeeze our horses in around our jobs. We had probably a dozen horses then, although sometimes it got up to 20," Ben said.

"Now it's just all horses and our dad Wayne, who is retired, helps us out on a part-time basis which is great," he said.

"We are up and going at 6am and aim to have the team all done by 12 noon. Where we are is similar weather to Hamilton, although it does get awfully wet for maybe three weeks in winter."

The logistics of running the massive Yole operation are hard to comprehend.

"There are races every week and we usually have big numbers going around," Yole said.

"Sometimes it could be 30 or 40 or more at a meeting. We own four trucks which on average carry nine horses each so that's how we get them there.

"Each horse has its own gear and individual race day bag but it's a big job cleaning all the harness - and one I tend to avoid if possible!"

Somewhere in between all the work, Yole insists he still manages to find family time to relax. His wife Catherine is a schoolteacher, and they have a four-year-old son Hudson and another baby on the way.

Yole said as a youngster, the legendary Barker family, Jim and Rod, first got him into horses through the pony trots.

"From there I learnt a lot from Kevin Brough and his son Adam, who were very astute trainers," he said.

"Looking back, I now realize how professional Adam was in the way he went about things. He certainly taught me the benefits of all the one-percenters.

"After all the horses were finished, Adam wasn't. He'd be off rubbing joints or attending to other things that a lot of other trainers mightn't bother with."

The Yole training complex is on 50 acres with an 800m fastwork track, swimming pool and plenty of grazing paddocks.

"We also have a bush property with several different circuits. This, and going to the beach, which is 15 minutes away, aims to break up the same day-in, day-out training regimes," he said.

And while their massive raceday numbers seem positively scary to outsiders, the Yole stable is always on the lookout for more horses from the mainland.

"The aim is to keep turning them over and enjoy the sport - and we all certainly love being involved in harness racing and getting winners that's for sure."

 

Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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