When the horses come thundering down the track this Kangaroo Island Racing Carnival, there will be a couple of local runners.
The two local horses however might be more used to chasing after kangaroos in open paddocks at Haines than running around a race track.
They belong to David Hall, one of the last bush thoroughbred trainers on the Island, who this year has two runners, his five-year-old gelding Aquestforvalue and his five-year-old mare Masked Secret.
“I run them around on the quad bike and when I take off the halter, they run around after me,” Mr Hall said. “The other morning I spotted them chasing after kangaroos.”
The SeaLink Kangaroo Island Racing Carnival is coming up on Thursday, February 14 and Saturday, February 16. Read more
A mixed farmer at Ti-Tree Farm at Haines, Mr Hall has been riding all his life, acquiring his first racehorse at age 23. That horse was Prince Jack, out of a mare that was the full sister to the champion of champion hacks at the Adelaide Show.
A well-rounded horseman, he also loves showjumping, participating in the Kingscote Show every year and he also rides with the Kangaroo Island Hunt Club, his property having one of the oldest courses on the Island.
While his two five year olds are racing in the KI Carnival this weekend, his two three years olds went to Strathalbyn last weekend for some track training in front of stewards.
Aquestforvalue might be at home in the paddocks but he is no slouch on the track, winning at Port Augusta in July last year while with trainer Dennis O’Leary.
Mr Hall reminisces about the heyday of racing on Kangaroo Island when there were 50 or more horses being trained every year, so many that local horses filled the field of the first race meeting.
“There were over 50 horses being trained when I first started and its a bit of pity that it’s now down to one or two,” he said. “I really didn’t want to be the last trainer on KI.”
Fellow trainer James Bates only recently left the Island and that only leaves David Huxtable at Springs Road, who is building up his racing business currently breaking in 10 yearlings bred on his farm.
Mr Hall is realistic about his chances this Thursday or Friday but just enjoys the experience of taking his horses to the track.
Given the recent controversy about the use of cruel training methods using electric shocks, he just can’t understand why someone would do that and doesn’t think horses would respond well to that kind of treatment.