Local trainers Matthew White and Mike Berger had the perfect night at Cambridge Raceway on Thursday, recording a winning double from just the two starters.
To make things even better White reined home Emmber to win the Amber Garden Centre Mobile Pace (2200m), his first victory in the sulky since his horrific crash at the Waikato track in January.
“It was my first win back. It was good, it’s been a while,” White said.
It has been a steady road to recovery for White who sustained a number of injuries from the incident.
“The only footage I saw were the clips that were on the news,” White said. “I can’t remember any of it, which is probably a good thing.
“I had a bleed on the brain, a concussion, and I fractured three vertebrae. It’s called the Transverse Process, which is the outside of the vertebrae where it attaches to the muscle.
“It’s not too bad as far as breaking backs go.”
White said he was overwhelmed by the support he received following the crash.
“Everyone was a bit worried and it was quite humbling all the support I got from everyone in the industry, friends, and family.”
White acknowledged he was relatively lucky to recover so quickly from his injuries and said he isn’t suffering from any after-effects.
“I just had six weeks of rest after the crash,” he said. “I was really lucky, I didn’t have any physio or anything like that. I didn’t have any headaches or after-effects from the concussion.
“I had a little bit of forgetfulness earlier on, but apart from that everything was okay, it could have been a lot worse.”
White was delighted to get the win with Emmber, the daughter of multiple Group One winner Lauraella, but believes she still needs time to mature.
“It was a good run, she had a nice trip,” he said. “On paper she has raced better fields than that, so we were quite confident. The way she let down and hit the line was the most pleasing thing.
“We will just take it race-by-race with her. She might have a couple of more starts and then have a bit of a let-up.
“She is a nice, honest filly. With a spell, next prep she will hopefully get a little bit stronger and a bit more mature.
“She needs to grow up a little bit more and fill out a bit, she has got quite a big frame on her.”
In the following race, stable junior driver Luke Whittaker recorded a stable double when steering home Mach Little Soaky to victory in the Mitre 10 Mega Cambridge Handicap Pace (2700m).
“Luke drove him well,” White said. “Mach Little Soaky had been racing well without a lot of luck.
“He is a bit of a one trick pony where he has to be ridden with a sit. It all worked out pretty well for him on Thursday and he got the job done.”
While pleased with the winning double on Thursday night, White said it was a little bit eerie racing in front of an empty grandstand.
The racing industry has implemented measures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, which meant that owners and the public are unable to attend race meetings.
“When I came back into the winner’s circle with Emmber it was a bit weird not having anyone there,” White said.
“After the horse has won you can’t share it with them.”
White said the impact the pandemic could have on the industry is worrying, but there could be a silver-lining if racing is allowed to continue operating behind closed doors.
“Owners may be affected, which would have a knock-on effect for us. If they can’t invest anymore then it is going to be hard. Getting new people into horses may be difficult for a while as well.
“But as long as we can keep racing, that is the biggest thing. If we can’t race we are in a bit of trouble.
“We do need the turnover, that is going to be the biggest indicator. It’s hard to say how that is going to go.
“If there are going to be more people sitting at home betting, without other sport being on, that would be good.” – Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk