Harness Racing in Dubbo has been running since the 1890’s attracting trainers across the central west and beyond. Dubbo Harness Racing Club hosts feature races such as the Dubbo City Cup, Red Ochre Pacing Championship, Furney's Town and Country Championships, the Dubbo Harness Club Christmas Series, the Golden Gig Series and the Iron Horse Series.
Come and watch the horses race under the ribbon of lights at Dubbo Paceway, 1 kilometre from the CBD, on the corner of Wingewarra and Fitzroy streets.
The track has on course catering (Hot2Trot Café), Bookmakers, parking available, an on course totalizator, bar, dining room and grandstand.
There is an abundance of accommodation available within a close vicinity and stables available for your horses on site at the track.
History of Harness Racing in Dubbo
Harness racing and the city of Dubbo have a long history. At the end of the 19th century trotting, as it was commonly known, first started in Dubbo at the annual show. In those days trotting enthusiasts were thick on the ground in the district and the annual show was always well attended in the way of spectators and participants.
Under the inspiration and guidance of a local Solicitor, CH Fitzgerald, Dubbo Trotting and Pony Club was the strongest club in the State. He was a trotting devotee who not only owned and trained harness horses but conducted a significant breeding operation. His town stables were located in north Dubbo, not far from where the current Dubbo Paceway is located.
Up until 1951 all races were run clockwise.
Night trotting commenced in December 1961. The upgrade of the track came about when 12 local Show Society members putting in ₤100, this was purchased as a life membership. Steel was purchased to erect the track fence and lights erected. The maintenance of the track was carried out by volunteer labour. The first President of this newly formed Trotting Club was Jimmy Reeves. Local business people loaned the Trotting Club front end loaders etc to place the granite on the track with the work being carried out on weekends. Trotting under the ribbon of light became a popular sport with the residents of Dubbo and district.
In 1975 a new grandstand and facilities were constructed and opened by NSW Premier Jack Lang.
Prior to this trot goers had the good fortune to witness grand mare Roma Hanover record her first race win as a two year old at the Dubbo Paceway.
The 1970’s and early 1980’s were golden years for trotting in Dubbo. Local trainer Ron Hoy enjoyed a wonderful run with the city’s “iron horse” Lone Boy, a dominant NSW pacer who capped a mighty career by qualifying for the final of Koala King’s 1980 Inter Dominion.
In that same year the locally trained Quamby’s Pride raced by long time Club President Jack Shanks and his wife Fay, captured the Group One Queensland Derby, defeating two time Inter Dominion winner Gammalite in the process.
Many other outstanding pacers have hailed from or raced from Dubbo including the classy free for aller King Toliver, NSW 3 YO Sires Stakes champion Karloo Frost, Vibrant, Honest Valley and Ladyship Mile winner Oh Carolina.
Brett Pay, who broke in and trained Oh Carolina early in her career, was selected from Dubbo to represent NSW in the Australian Junior Drivers Championship in the early 1980’s.
Bathurst legend Tony Turnbull has a soft spot for Dubbo. The master reinsman drove his 2500th and 2700th winners at the Dubbo Paceway. Furthermore he drove the last winner on the old track and the first winner on the new track which opened on 10 February 1996.
The 800 metre circuit which came into action that night had a great beginning with local icon Sam’s Memory and his trainer-driver Ron Wiegold establishing the current track record with a mile rate of 1:57.7. One of the special guests at that opening night was Rowleyalla, the fastest pacer ever to race on Australian soil. The holder of the Australian time trial record of 1:52.2, Rowleyalla paraded at the meeting with his owner trainer driver Keven Rivett.
Many of Australia’s great pacers have raced at Dubbo including dual Inter Dominion winner Hondo Grattan and Bundanoon. The track has also hosted visits from Inter Dominion champions Our Sir Vancelot and Thorate immediately after their Inter wins.
As in most other venues harness racing in Dubbo has been a strong family sport. Many local families have seen at least three generations participate including the Hoy and Lew families.
Trainers such as Garry Edwards has had many good horses with wins at Harold Park with Waikare Time, Waikare Mystery, Glenora Tess, Glenora Grant, Mr Marathon and Go Under. His daughter Kyle won the young trainer driver under 23 premierships in 1997 at Dubbo, Parkes and Orange and was the first female to win the Dubbo Open Drivers Premiership in 1997/98. Kyle also trained the 1999 two year old of the year Jaccka Leny. Other local identies include Mendooran based trainer-driver-breeder, Fred Tillman who is a hobby trainer with a small team but will be remembered as the breeder of Executioner the winner of the Bathurst Gold Crown final and the Two Year Old Sires Stakes final at Harold Park. He then backed up the next year to win the Three Year Old Sires Final the first horse to do so.
In recent times Karloo Mick has made his mark for owner-trainer-driver Barry Lew with his second at the 2006 Inter Dominion.
The Red Ochre Mares Classic has become a feature event for pacing mares commencing some twelve years ago. The inaugural edition of the Red Ochre was taken out by Londonderry trainer-driver Tony Wilson and his smart mare Candyrama.