Two long years of hard work culminated with Sunday afternoon’s inaugural harness racing meet at Orange’s Towac Park and, appropriately, the opening race of the program was taken out by central west harness racing royalty in the Turnbull family.
Bathurst’s Mitch Turnbull steered $2.30 favourite Adore Ruby, trained by his father Steve, to a comfortable, four-and-a-half metre victory in the Orange City Welcome To Towac Park Pace (1609m), etching his name in the record books as the first driver to claim victory on the grass track.
“It’s really exciting to be the first winner here,” Mitch Turnbull said.
“It was an excellent run, the horse got around the track really well, it was a good race,” Turnbull said.
“I was lucky to get two trials here, so I was reasonably familiar with the track.
“You watch it on the grass in New Zealand and they’ve got 17 in a race, not seven, so it was hard to know what to do as a driver a little bit but I was lucky she’s a bit stronger which probably suits the grass.”
The meeting attracted some of the region and state’s best trainers, drivers and trotters to Towac Park for the inaugural grass track harness racing meet.
Spring Hill’s Kel Winnell, played an integral role in bringing the trots to Towac, along with Orange Harness Racing Club supremo Frank McRae and Orange City Council.
“It’s been a good two or so years worth of work to get it out here but it’s all come together well in the end,” Winnell said.
“Everyone’s looking forward to it and I don’t think there’ll be any issues at all [at Towac]. You know, it’ll probably take some of the horses a while to get used to the grass track but that’s all part of it.
“Everyone was pretty happy with everything during the trial runs we had on it but obviously trials are a little bit different to race day so we’ll have to wait and see how it goes. I think we’ll be right though.”
Winnell said having the carnival back in Orange is a huge boost for harness racing not just in the colour city, but also in the Central West region, one series in particular – the Honan Family Jack Honan Memorial.
Appeared first in the Central Western Daily (Fairfax Media).