NULKABA trainer Clayton Harmey will be looking to continue his good run of success when racing returns to Newcastle Paceway this afternoon.
Based in the Cessnock area, Harmey is still savouring his first group one win a little over a week ago when he combined with talented young reinsman Jack Callaghan to take out the $100,000 TAB Hunter Region Championship Final with Kanye Crusader.
And to say it was a shock to the stable would be an understatement.
Harmey entered Kanye Crusader into the series as a “stable joke” and gave the gelding little hope of making the final, let alone winning it.
And the effort to lead throughout and fight back after being headed was a massive one as he did so while carrying a broken hopple.
“If you had told me three weeks ago, I would be winning a group one race with this fellow, I would have dead set laughed at you,” said Harmey.
The ace trainer heads to Newcastle today holding a strong hand, something he has become accustomed to during the period of regionalised racing in the northern area.
Today Harmey faces the likelihood of having four short-priced favourites on the eight-race program.
One horse that will be watched with interest is Major Bob and the son of Art Major is expected to start at short odds to win first-up for Harmey after returning to New South Wales following a short stint in Victoria.
A winner of four races from 12 starts, Major Bob looked set for a promising career as a juvenile, but the four-year-old had a setback with a nasty injury limiting him from realising his full potential.
Harmey gave Major Bob a sharpen-up last Wednesday in a trial and he looked strong, strolling clear unextended to win by 15 metres, clocking 1:58.2, signalling that he was ready for a strong showing.
Harmey is in for a busy afternoon at Newcastle where he has 16 runners engaged.
Stable driver Blake Hughes will take the reins on six of them and is emerging as one of the state’s leading drivers.
No doubt Hughes has benefitted from linking with the successful Harmey stable, where opportunities are plentiful.
Driving at Tamworth recently, the teenage reinsman recorded his best night at the track, driving five winners, including three for Clayton and two for Anthony Missen.
Just 19 hours later, Hughes added a winning double at Newcastle for the Harmey juggernaut.
- MICHAEL DUMESNY