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Articles Today is 17/04/2014
DID YOU KNOW THESE HARNESS RACING FACTS? [ More Items ]  
13/05/04
Women were not allowed to drive at harness racing meetings against men until August 1977. The first female reinswoman to win a registered race against the male drivers anywhere in Australia was Miss Debra Wicks when she steered Darwin Boy to victory at the Hawkesbury track in New South Wales on December 22, 1977 at her first drive after being licenced. Debra subsequently married in 1980 and as Debra Wicks-Moss still drives her fair share of winners and retains her passion for the industry.
FOOTNOTE:- Her 22-year-old daughter Donna Moss followed her mother into the industry and had her first drive the week she was licensed, on a pacer called I Love Toby at the Victorian TAB meeting of Geelong on Sunday September 10, 2006. I Love Toby was trained by Donna's mother and ran 7th in the field of nine.
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The first “female drivers only” race was held at Globe Derby in May 1973. Fran Donohue won the race.
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Margaret Frost, the former wife of Vic Frost, drove the first metropolitan winner against men, when she won driving Juanita Belle at Globe Derby on 3/6/78. Margaret Frost then became the first woman to win a mile race (1600 metres) in under two minutes when All Humour scored at Harold Park in October 1981 and ran 1.59.5.
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The first woman to drive a winner at Brisbane’s Albion Park was Leonie Williams who drove Frosty Thor to victory on 28/11/78.
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North Queensland pacer Cane Smoke trained in Mackay by the Manzelmann family holds the record of winning the most races in a harness racing season – he won 34. Champion Victorian trotter Maori’s Idol holds the record for trotters or square gaiters at 22. 
 
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Whilst female driver Kerryn Gath blows all previous driving records in a season away, some of the top drivers of the past have large numbers of winners in a season to their credit. Vic Frost drove 106 winners in 1969-70. Brian Pelling held the Australian record in 1973-74 with 108. Kevin Thomas, who lives half an hour up the road from me, drove the most winners in Australia for 3 years in a row 1974-75-76-77. The biggest number of winners he drove was 174 in the 1976-77 season. 
 
Fellow Queenslander Bill Dixon drove 153.5 winners in 1977-78 to win that seasons title. 
 
Ted Demmler from Victoria drove 175 winners in the 1981-82 year.  
 
The late Vin Knight drove 157.5 winners in 1984-85 year.
 
The trainer of the great thoroughbred Northerly – Fred Kersley – dead heated with Victorian Gavin Lang in 1985-86. Amazingly they both drove a dead heat winner in the season and finished up with 130.5 winners each.
 
Western Australia’s Trevor Warwick drove 164 winners in 1986-87.
 
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The record for the most number of consecutive wins by a pacer or trotter in Australia is held by Western Australian San Simeon at 29. Equal second on 24 consecutive wins are the great Victorian trotter Maori's Idol, champion pacer Courage Under Fire and the Queensland pacing icon Lucky Creed..
 
Just for the record, Aachen won 20 in a row, Satinover 19, Garry’s Advice 18, Village Kid 17 and Popular Alm 15.
 
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The shortest priced pacer or trotter ever in Australia was champion Popular Alm, who was officially returned at 100-1 ON when he won at Brisbane’s Albion Park on 29/10/83.
 
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How’s this for “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not”. A pacer called Wanderer won an official race at a track called Croxton Park in Victoria on 15/6/1872 - yes 132 years ago. What was his handicap mark? Try 900 yards (or 823 metres). He won the 4 mile (6.4 kilometres) race by 15 yards (13 metres)! That’s amazing.
 
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If at first you don’t succeed – just keep sending them around, until they are giddy! The Australian record for the most number of starts without winning a race is held by South Australian pacer Aastar’s Image who raced between 1978 and 1985. In 144 starts he could not win a single race.  At retirement day, he had run 12 seconds and 15 thirds and earned $1327 in prizemoney. I promise there is no zero missing at the end of the prizemoney tally!  
 
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The first official harness race in Australia was run in Sydney – at Parramatta – on 30/4/1810. The winner was a mare called Miss Kitty. That’s extraordinary as it’s only 40 years after “Cookie” got here!
 
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Hopples were first used in America in the 1880’s.
 
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Queenslands first harness race was conducted at Eagle Farm racecourse on 11/8/1888 by the “Brisbane Driving Park Club”.
 
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Sydney’s current harness racing track Harold Park has been known by different names. It was originally called Lillie Bridge Racecourse then Forest Lodge then Epping and then Harold Park. If you think racing harness horses under lights is new – it’s not. The now Harold Park conducted a meeting under electric lights way back on 6/2/1890.
 
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The mobile barrier was first used at the now Harold Park track on 2/11/56.
 
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On the 6th June 1921, the largest ever official field of harness horses met – a staggering 44 – at a track in Tasmania. It should have been easy to give one an easy run, in traffic, over on the fence!
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