Day At The Track

Popular horseman posts number 1500

12:00 PM 07 Apr 2020 NZST
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Bernie and Jason Hewitt with the mare who brought up Bernies 1500th training success, Iamajoyride,Harness racing
Bernie and Jason Hewitt with the mare who brought up Bernies 1500th training success, Iamajoyride

One of the good guys of harness racing in the strong Bathurst region, Bernie Hewitt, reached a memorable milestone recently at his home track.

Hewitt, who is based at nearby Georges Plains, watched talented youngster Iamajoyride (Lincoln Royal NZ-Onajoyride (Grinfromeartoear USA) take out the 2yo Gold Tiara Consolation event.

The victory was Hewitt’s 1500th as a trainer, but it probably had added significance with the horse being owned by his wife Cath and driven by their eldest son Jason.

“I must be honest and say that I don’t keep records and I really had no idea until I was told that someone had posted it on Facebook,” Hewitt said.

“It was a nice surprise. I’ve been at it for a while though, probably over 36 years,” he said.

“I grew up with horses and once it’s in your blood, it’s there to stay. But on reflection, I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do anyway.”

Hewitt grew up with his two brothers Mark (now based at Grenfell) and David (Goulburn) and their sister Jenna (married to Grant Picker, of Bigga). Their parents Tom and Angela owned farmland at Crookwell.

“We were brought up with sheep, especially fat lambs, as well as merinos. Dad also had cattle, but got rid of those in the drought of 1972,” Bernie said.

“There was also the horses and dad raced a few nice ones, including Nikalong Shadow who won 10 races as a two-year-old and about just as many as a three-year-old. He also stood quite a number at stud.”

Nikalong Shadow (Shadow Star-Tondara Queen (Duke Duane USA) continued to show his brilliance as an older horse, winning many feature races in the metropolitan areas as well as on the country cups circuit. He finished with 45 wins and 50 placings for $271,000.

Hewitt said in his younger days there was always plenty of farm work to do and he also learnt the art of shearing.

“But it was the horses that all of us got interested in. I suppose you could say that we all got the bug,” he said.

“All of us, my brothers and Jenna and their families are right into it. My sister and her husband have four boys and they are all involved one way or another.”

Hewitt has a 90-acre property which includes a 700m jog track and a 800m fastwork track, as well as stabling and plenty of paddocks. He has been a full-time trainer for the past 20 years.

“We are a family affair.  My wife Cath’s always giving us a helping hand, and our boys Jason and Doug, and our daughter Gemma are here every day, too, either with training, fast work or breaking-in youngsters,” he said.

“Doug and myself have been doing a lot of the driving, but with Jason back after a stint in Queensland and Gemma doing trials driving and hoping to become licensed, there could be a bit of jostling when it comes time to do the race nominations down the track.

“It’s been good to have Jason back, though, because he’s had a win and a second on Iamajoyride and he’s also a farrier so I’m more than happy to share that workload with him!”

Hewitt said while there were hardships around racing at the moment, it was at least an opportunity for everyone to earn something.

“The authorities are doing a great job in keeping the industry going because a lot of us thought it may have been closed by now,” he said .

“All of our racing up here is at Bathurst and with big numbers of horses, there’s some missing out with balloting. We also can’t travel to Menangle with our better horses, but the main thing is that we are still operating.”

Hewitt, who enjoys nothing better than a few beers and a catch-up with family and friends (when social distancing rules permit!), is sure to keep the winners rolling in. But as for keeping tabs on records, well that’s a different story!


Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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