Harness racing returns to the Bega Valley for the annual exhibition races at the 2018 Bega Show.
A five race program is planned for Saturday, February 17 starting at 6pm at the Bega Showgrounds.
The sport has experienced a resurgence in the Bega region over the last five years after insurance restrictions forced a decade-long hiatus in the early 2000s.
Race sponsor and harness racing enthusiast Norm Pearce said it was fantastic to see the return of the sport, as the Bega Valley had a rich history of harness racing in its past, and many trainers and riders hail from the region.
Harness horses are expected to descend on the Bega Show from Dapto, Young and Canberra and maybe Coolamon to put on a fine display of their talents.
Four horses take part in each race, with six breeders expected to take part in the annual competition.
Frank O’Sullivan from Wallaroo, just north west of Canberra, is one of the harness enthusiasts who supports harness racing in Bega each year.
O’Sullivan grew up close to the Canberra Showground and always had horses on his parents property, giving him plenty of experience breaking them in and working with horses.
When O'Sullivan left school he juggled his passion for racing with an electrical apprenticeship he undertook in Canberra.
The rider and trainer has had a long involvement with the Bega Valley. One of his first horses was Buck Fifty, purchased from the McPauls at Wolumla. Buck Fifty was one his first harness horse he drove as a winner.
O’Sullivan has gone on to drive harness horses all over Australia and regularly races at Melbourne, Menangle and Canberra.
He has travelled as far as New Zealand driving horses and searching for the elusive winning horse to buy.
He also enjoyed driving at the Perth Paceway. He other favourite track is the Orange Paceway as it is a tight track, similar to the Bega Showground.
O’Sullivan is bringing three horses to the 2018 Bega Show from his farm which features a training circuit resembling the Canberra paceway, a large dam for swimming the horses and numerous stables and out paddocks for the young horses for future sales around Australia.
Jason Sirl Excavations will prepare the race track, while Don Spence will act as resident race caller, Greg Grant will be the official time keeper, Stu McPaul and Gerry Bateman are course supervisors and Raymond Grant and Scott Dunn are clerks of the course.
Avid supporter of all equine racing, Jim Salway will have his eagle eye on the winning post.
Mr Pearce thanked Dennis and Brenda Whiffen; the O’Sullivan and Hodgson families; the Watling family; the Hayes and the Matthews families; Carmel Rixon and family and John and Margaret Jessop for supporting this year’s harness racing in Bega this weekend.