Day At The Track

Strong Sanderson stable to head south

09:50 AM 05 Jan 2021 NZDT
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Shane and Ryan Sanderson, harness racing
Shane and Ryan Sanderson

Menangle-based harness racing trainer Shane Sanderson has confirmed he will relocate south to be based permanently in Victoria from next month.

Shane and his wife Naomi will set up at the growing Charlton Harness Racing Training Centre, in north central Victoria, and will be the third major stable lured to the regional facility.

"It's mainly for our kids, Ryan and Abbey, to allow them more opportunities and to give them the chance to grow their careers in the sport," Sanderson said.

"But we think Victoria also gives us more options to place some of our lower-grade horses on the country tracks - that's a lot more difficult where we are at the moment," he said.

Another NSW team in Anthony Butt and fiancée Sonya Smith hit immediate success when they landed in Melbourne with a strong team last October. They have now made Victoria their permanent base.

The Charlton facility already has attracted former Adelaide trainer Greg Norman and up-and-coming trainer-driver combo Michael Gadsden and Denbeigh Wade. The Sanderson team will be another major boost to the well-resourced centre's credentials.

The complex offers tenants access to individual stabling complexes, each with a fully serviced 60 x 30 shed, lock-up harness and feed area, internal yoke up and wash areas, two internal boxes and eight adjoining day yards. They also have unrestricted use of the 820 metre Training Track, a 2,000-metre straight track and a swimming dam on site. Fundraising is also underway to install a water walker at the complex.

Sanderson said he had been impressed by the enthusiasm and energy of the Charlton officials, when they showed him around last week.

"We're bringing a team of 15 and Joe and Andrea (President Joey Thompson and Manager Andrea O'Gorman) have gone out of their way for us - I think they're even talking about building more facilities to accommodate us," he said.

"They certainly did a good sell on what Charlton has to offer and the club's obviously having a real crack, so we've really got no hesitation in deciding to go there.

"I think facilities like this one are the way for the industry to go - there needs to be something like this in every state because the price of land has just got out of hand for people coming in."

Charlton manager Andrea O'Gorman said the club was excited about the new arrivals, describing it as a real "game-changer" for the club and for harness racing in the region.

"With Greg, Mick and Denbeigh doing so well, it's another bonus for the local followers - they won't be able to keep up!" O'Gorman said.

"But that's what it's all about...creating more interest at the ground level and the development of the training centre is doing just that," she said.

"We are just so thrilled with the quality of the trainers we're now attracting - the word's out that Charlton offers a great lifestyle with opportunity to race successfully all over Victoria."

Sanderson said recent Menangle winner Loorrim Creek and the promising Smokin Shazza would be among the team to make the move south, along with ex-Victorian Leigha Miller and Flaming Fives; and several now on the comeback trail in Sapphire Swayze, Lucky Lombo and Dikerry.

The Sanderson family (L-R Abbey, Shane, Naomi and Ryan) after a win at Menangle with Loorrim Creek

The Sanderson family has been based at Menangle for the past four years after Shane got his start in the sport in Queensland.

"I didn't grow up in a harness racing family, but we did live at Redcliffe (a bayside suburb of Brisbane) where there was a whole street of trainers near the trotting track," he said.

"I'd get down to the Redcliffe trots on Friday night then eventually found my way up to the stables. I started helping out and learning what I could, then eventually got my trainer's licence.

"Then when they were setting up Menangle, we put in an expression of interest to give it a go down there."

Sanderson has established a more than creditable record since, topping more than a quarter of a million in stakes earnings each season at Menangle. His best was in 2017-18, with 62 winners amassing more than half a million in stakes. In a successful 2020 extended season, he's had nine winners from 43 starts, including a recent treble - two winners at Newcastle and one at Menangle on the same day in December.

Shane and Naomi's son Ryan, 17, is a promising junior driver who spent time in Victoria last year, and their 15-year-old daughter Abbey has also recently gained her trials driving licence.

"Ryan just loves the sport and Abbey is very keen as well, so we want to base ourselves where they can find opportunities and make the most of them," Sanderson said.

"Where we are at the moment, racing is pretty good quality and you need good horses to compete - we race most of the horses we train, and we've got a couple of handy ones, but as everyone knows, they are pretty hard to get!" he said.

"From Charlton we think we can access a lot of tracks pretty easily to place our team and we've got all the facilities we need right there, so we're pretty excited to be making the move.

"Ryan loved it down there last year, and hopefully he can take up where he left off and build on that. If we're able to supply him with a few horses to drive, that might help him as well."

Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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