Horsham harness racing celebrates 100 years

HORSHAM and District Harness Racing Club is expecting a bumper crowd at its anniversary meeting at Horsham Racecourse today.

The club is celebrating 100 years of trotting in the region and the 60th anniversary of the first night meet in Horsham with the running of its 24th annual Noel Smith Memorial Horsham Invitation Drivers Championship.

Club spokesman Tony Logan said he hoped people would attend for a good day's racing and to help the club celebrate its history.

"With the invitation drivers championship, the two anniversaries, the launch of our book and good weather, I'm confident we'll get about 800 to 1000 people," he said.

"We really want to make this day a great success.

"We've had many inquiries from families who have been a part of trotting in the Horsham region about being there.

"Hopefully this can become our second feature day every year."

Defending invitation drivers champion Dexter Dunn, of New Zealand, will head a field of top drivers from across Australia.

"It's a crackerjack field," Logan said.

"There's a few familiar faces none better than Gavin Lang and Chris Alford.

"Western Australia's Colin Brown is cool, calm and experienced, then there's the younger brigade as well.

"The sort of names and the sort of quality is fantastic to see in Horsham."

Alford and Lang will be joined by fellow Victorians Daryl Douglas and Glenn Sugars, while NSW driver Amanda Turnbull, Tasmania's Gareth Rattray, Queensland's Grant Dixon and South Australia's Ryan Hryhorec will also compete in the three-race championship.

Other events in the eight-race meet include the Wonwondah Memorial Trotters Handicap, The O'Keeffe and the GJ Gardner Series Final.

Minister for Sport and Recreation Hugh Delahunty will attend to help launch the club's 72-page book Horsham Harness Racing History written by John Peck.

Free black and white copies of the book which relives the club's history by the decade will be available, while colour copies can be purchased for $15.

Another highlight will be the return of the Westside Horsham Sulky Challenge, which offers a $2000 prize pool.

"It's great to see the sulky challenge back," Logan said.

"It's a good opportunity for football and netball clubs in pre-season training to get together for a bit of fun and a good day out."

There will also be children's activities, including a merry-go-round, mobile wildlife zoo and jumping castle, plus live music and giveways for adults and children.

Two free bus services will operate to and from the event, running through Hopetoun, Rainbow, Jeparit, Dimboola, Beulah, Warracknabeal, Minyip and Murtoa.

Gates open at 1pm, with the opening race scheduled for 1.49pm. The final race is on at 6.18pm.

Entry is $10 for adults, $5 for aged concession and free for children.

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