A locally-bred pacer has been named Bathurst Harness Racing Club’s horse of the year.
Sportygal, bred by Colin and Ben Greenhalgh and Michael Walker, had six wins, six seconds and a third from her 21 starts in the last season.
With 52 race meetings a year, eight races per event, competition for the title is fierce.
The honours for horse of the year came down to the wire: when it came to the end of the season on August 31, Mr Hayward and Casino Tommy also had six wins.
Sportygal claimed overall honours with her six second places.
The four-year-old, who is out of the local mare Rancid and Sportsrider, is now in training with Bathurst’s Steve Turnbull stables.
Both Steve, her regular driver, and his son Mitchell have achieved success with the mare.
Mitchell actually had the reins when Sportygal led and ran her best winning mile rate of 1.54.3.
She's very tough.Colin Greenhalgh
Steve Turnbull himself was named the Bathurst club’s trainer of the year, with 79 wins to his credit this season.
Sportygal started racing as a two-year-old, but was a little immature and returned to the track in earnest as a three-year-old.
But she’s really hit her stride in the most recent season – particularly at the Bathurst track.
“She’s a good consistent mare,” Colin Greenhalgh said.
“She’s not quick out of the gate, but she’s very tough.
“Wherever she starts, she makes her way forward, races in the death seat – outside the leader – and just keeps wearing away.”
Consistency is Sportygal’s secret to success: she doesn’t run the quickest quarters but she has good staying power.
So what’s next?
Sportygal is now getting up in grade, a C7 in harness racing, so Greenhalgh will be looking to take her up a level to contest an MO and possibly mare’s races at Menangle.
“We are hoping that in her next preparation she will measure up,” he said.
Sportygal has been on a spell since the end of the season in September and is returning to the Bathurst stables this week.