Day At The Track

Small stable doing mighty big things

03:59 PM 14 Jun 2019 NZST
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Craig and Gary Hoban
Father and son Craig and Gary Hoban with 2yo Rockingwithsierra
Geelong HRC Photo

When it comes to consistency, the small Hoban harness racing stable at Toolern Vale, near Melbourne, is up there with the best.

With astute long-time trainer Gary Hoban at the head of affairs, those familiar racing colors of black, white diamonds, white sleeves with black stripes, are prominent at Victorian meetings.

Gary, with a team of around half a dozen, posted the 200th win of his training career at Geelong on Wednesday night.

Rockingwithsierra (Sportswriter USA-Sierra Tango (Village Jasper USA) scored a pillar-to-post win in the DNR Logistics 2yo Pace, at bolters odds of 25/1.

"Hopefully some loyal stable followers won something, because she was going to run into it at her debut a while back at Maryborough, until she broke at the 400-metre mark," Gary's reinsman son Craig said.

"Dad added a shadow roll to her gear recently and that has certainly turned her around."

To watch the video replay click here

Gary has 10 wins and 11 placings for $107,000 as a trainer this season, but it's his percentages that impress.

His win-place to starters percentage this season sits at a most creditable 54.05; and Craig's record as a driver is marginally better at 55.5 -- six victories and nine placings from 27 attempts.

"My partner Daphne and I have a young daughter Emerson and I've just come back to the sport after a bit of a break," Craig said.

"Most days it takes at least an hour to get from home in Bulleen across to dad's property to help do the horses and it can get taxing.

"Up until a few years ago dad's brother Shane also worked with us."

The harness racing links with the name Hoban go back many years to a former great in Frank - Gary's father and Craig's grandfather. Frank, who died in 2015 at age 90, was a highly regarded horseman in the Melbourne Showgrounds racing era.

"Pop lived at Preston and would walk up to Gower Park to do his horses. He was still involved in them while in his 80s," Craig said.

The Showgrounds also played a huge part in Gary and Craig's early harness racing journey. They would travel there several times a week to train horses from their base at the time, Taylor's Lake.

It was there they befriended horseman Geoff Dodd who was renting stables. Dodd, now a vet, breeder and trainer based at Romsey, took a young Craig under his wing during school holidays.

"I enjoyed helping Geoff and at times dad looked after one of the Dodd stable's top horses Twinkletoes, who won 16 races," Craig said.

"When Geoff decided to sell a progeny of Twinkletoes in Sierra Tango (seven wins), he virtually talked us into buying it, saying that particular line would produce champions."

And Dodd was on the money.

Sierra Tango produced Dancingwithsierra (by Modern Art, winning 13 with 12 places for $161,000); Waltzingwithsierra (Always A Virgin, 7w and 22p $67,000); and Tangoingwithsierra (Sportswriter, 6w, 10p $158,000).

All three made the rich VicBred Super Series 2yo finals, so it's now up to Rockingwithsierra, raced by Craig and stepmother Kym, to make it a clean sweep of qualifiers.

"Kym does all the namings, so I'm not sure where she's going to head when she runs out of dance moves!"

But all jokes aside, Craig said he was confident the talented youngster could "get the job done" in next week's heats at Bendigo.

"This is also my big chance as I've never driven in a Vicbred Sires Series previously. It's a handy field, but we won't be far off," he said.

Bendigo Fields Tuesday June 18

Craig has had some memorable moments in the sport, including as a junior being presented with some prime claim drives by Gavin Lang and winning a Yarra Valley race in March, 2014, with 100/1 chance Mumbai Majik.

But he says winning a Melton race with Dancingwithsierra was his most unforgettable feat.

"I just love driving and if I can get Rockingwithsierra through the heats, the semi-finals and into the final, that would be a big feather in my cap," he said.

Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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