Day At The Track

Bill still turning out winners at 86

11:00 AM 23 Dec 2020 NZDT
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Bill White, harness racing
Bill White and his stablehand granddaughter Lauren with Blis Valley after their Maryborough win

Veteran Bendigo harness racing trainer Bill White made a rare appearance at the races this week - and the wily horseman returned home with the spoils.

"Dad is 86 and prefers to stay at home and watch them on television. He usually tells us that there's really no need for him to go," his son Ian said.

"But when we had three runners at Maryborough on Monday, he decided he'd better come along for the ride."

And Bill may have just been the needed lucky charm as five-year-old gelding Blis Valley (Skyvalley-Suelaurian (Keystone Salute) gave a faultless display to take out the Volstead @ Haras Des Trotteurs Trot with Rod Lakey the successful driver.

To watch the video replay click on this link.

Ian and his wife Susan bred and own the square gaiter, while their stablehand daughter Lauren, 17, was on hand at the meeting to help her Pa Bill out.

"Both Lauren and our 14yo son Brent are following in the family harness racing tradition - we were talking about it just recently and they are actually fifth generation participants although Brent didn't go to Maryborough because he had soccer," Ian said.

"Dad drove a lot of winners for his father Jack, who was out Eaglehawk way. He used to make up all his horseshoes, using a forge, shaping them and putting in the nail holes.

"I now do all our shoeing - I'm self-taught and have picked up plenty of tips from dad."

Ian said Bill was proud to have driven winners at the old Showgrounds track, then Moonee Valley and Melton.

"He doesn't drive them at home anymore, but he still potters around doing a load of joggers or anything else that needs doing," he said.

"Some of the good ones he had over the years included Mystic Robert, a winner of 22 races. He won the Shepparton Cup beating Adaptor (Jack Hargreaves) and also took out the Italian Cup."

Among the notable White performers were also Jane's Choice, Brother Pete, Keys To The Ute and a $500 bargain in Miss Tiny Tot.

"We got her at a Graeme Board clearing sale that they used to have, and she weighed in at 320kg which was the reason behind her name, of course, but she won $118,000," Ian said.

"We haven't had a pacer for years, we're just specializing in trotters. There's a lot of races for them now, but they are getting quicker too.

"We breed most of our own and have had a great deal of success from the Keystone Salute line. Occasionally we might see a bargain buy because we always keep an eye out.

"My mum Betty has always supported dad with his horses. She follows them but loves her garden these days."

Apart from horses, Ian is a teacher, having been at the Castlemaine secondary college for the last 27 years.

"While the COVID pandemic didn't work out so well for the students, I ended up with a bit more free time to work the horses. We are doing six at our Huntly property," he said.

"When school finishes and once I get past Harcourt on my way home, I'm no longer a school teacher! We just love our 60 acres and the horses. It's on the edge of a State Forest and it's a great lifestyle."

Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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