It has been 91 years since trotting races were held in Tasmania but in Hobart on Sunday night the forgotten gait makes its return.
Trotting was originally the most popular gait used in harness racing but changes in the standardbred breed led to the pacing gait becoming more popular.
The last trot race staged in Tasmania was in 1927 but trotters continued to race against pacers and Tasmania produced some of the best trotters in the nation.
Wrenmore raced competitively in Tasmania for 17 years from 1927 to 1944 and all of his races were against pacers.
Wrenmore was driven for most of his career by Inter-Dominion-winning driver Len Moriarty and at the end of the gelding’s racing career he had the distinction of being the oldest trotter to win against pacers in Australia when he won at Elphin (Launceston) in April 1944.
Another great trotter to deliver the goods was the mare Father’s Wish that began her career as a pacer winning the Sapling Stakes in 1947 after which she was switched to the trotting gate.
She was an outstanding trotter that won numerous events against the pacers in Tasmania before heading to Victoria and then on to New Zealand where she won twice before being retired to stud in NZ.
Reintroducing trotting to the Tasmanian harness racing calendar is the brainchild of outgoing Tasracing CEO Vaughn Lynch.
“Trotting is the most popular gait internationally, especially throughout France and in Scandinavian countries where they race trotters exclusively,” Lynch said.
“It is an important step forward for the local industry and we are confident this will one day give Tasmanian harness racing the opportunity to be exported around the world.”
The first of many trot races planned for the next year arrives as race six in Hobart on Sunday night, a discretionary handicap over 2579 metres and while it boasts only five starters the race still promises to offer great spectator and hopefully punter value.
Tasmanian trainer Todd Rattray has had experienced trotter Our Summer Vacation in his care for some time preparing for the inaugural race.
“Our Summer Vacation comes from my brother James’ stable in NSW and he is a former Group winner but that was a very long time ago,” Rattray said.
“He has trialled well and is safe from a standing start but he will need to do that coming off the back mark of 30 metres on Sunday night.”
Victorian trainers Jayne Davies and Brent Lilley have accepted with Redason and All The Way Mae with the remaining two acceptors, Ten Caisses and My Jackofdiamonds, prepared by Adam Emery and Ben Yole respectively.
Rattray is hoping the experiment is successful.
“I’m sure that if people get behind this type of racing then we can make a real go of it.
“You have to start somewhere so five starters is ok but once others see we have trot racing up and going and can see the industry is serious about it then it should go ahead in leaps and bounds.”
Witness the event live at the Hobart racecourse, with gates opening from 16:00.
Or watch it live on TasracingTV with host Duncan Dornauf bringing you all the action live from 16:40.