By Duane Ranger
Daren Garrard is not only one of the most generous men in Australasian harness racing, but he’s also one of the most resilient.
The Burpengary horseman, rode the harness racing roller-coaster last week, and came out the other side even more focused and even more determined to train more winners.
It was an emotional roller-coaster, which saw Garrard and his wife, Gayle, experience everything from, success, to pride, devastation, and then happiness again.
Garrard trained six winners in five days, but tragedy struck his 14-strong barn on the Thursday.
Last Tuesday the now deceased Changeover 3-year-old gelding, Goldenblack won the first race at Albion Park, and a race later, Changeover mare Bourbonontherocks, repeated the dose.
Then on Wednesday at Redcliffe Paceway, Ultimate Falcon mare, Itsmegs, won the fourth event. The following day at the same venue, Garrard trained the winners of races one and six thanks to Changeover mare, Couldntellya, and Western Terror gelding, Jilliby Jackpot.
The Garrards highlight victory of the week then came at Albion Park on Saturday night when the Paul Diebert driven, Changeover mare, Charlyse, nailed the $13,000 Mares Open Pace.
"It was one of my best week's as a trainer, but it was even more pleasing to see Angus (son), drive five winners in three days. He's a good boy and a A-grade student, who is doing extra well mixing both his driving and schooling at St Paul’s.
"He's an absolute 'harness racing tragic'. The sport has been in our family for over 100 years and Angus has been driving mini trotters since he was 18 months old. We are very proud of him," Garrard said.
But a midst that pride came sorrow, and thoughts of ‘what might have been’.
After winning his debut 1660m mobile by 7.6m in 1:55.5 shortly before 3pm on Tuesday, Goldenblack sadly lost his life two days later.
"He'd won three of his four trials and ran second in the other before he had his first race last week. Potentially he was one of our best pacers, and who knows what he could have developed into, because he was only three," Garrard said of the brown gelding.
He explained that the gelding had accidentally killed himself in a paddock accident.
“We found him on Thursday morning. It sent a chill over us because we hate losing any horses to death, let alone good ones.
“Thursday wasn’t easy, but we managed to pick ourselves off the floor and then go and watch Angus win two races and place twice from the eight races carded,” Garrard said.
His son would have driven all six winners last week, but has yet to earn his Saturday night Metropolitan driving ticket.
Diebert was equal to the occasion, thanks to a patient come-from-behind drive behind Charlyse, in the appropriately named Changeover At Burwood Stud mares Pace.
It was Charlyse’s 11th win in 62 starts. She’s also placed 14 times for $62,361 in stakes, but it was just her second win at ‘The Creek’.
“She felt strong tonight and I just bided my time with her before I let her sprint down the lane. Daren has done a super job with this mare. I’m rapt I could provide a Metro win for him.
“It’s been a big week for the Garrards. I’m proud to drive for them and I’m rapt for the whole family. Angus has done an awesome job in the bike. He has a great future,” Diebert said immediately after the race.
Charlyse paced the 2,138m mobile in 2:35.4 (mile rate 1:56.9). His sectionals were 29.1, 30.3, 28.4, and 29.4.
“We have had her since she was two but she’s nearing the end of her racing career and will go to stud in the Spring. I have some Western Ideal straws so I think I will have her served by him.
“She’s been going some really nice races but hasn’t had much luck with the draws. Paul drove her well. She’s rising seven now, and it’s time for her to become a Mum. I think she will leave some nice babies,” said co-owner, Garrard.
Garrard, who owns the international company - Garrard’s Horse And Hound, wanted to pay a tribute to his father, Chris (OAM), who was bestowed with an Order of Australia Merit on Australia Day this year for his services to harness racing.
“Dad carried on what has become a century old family tradition, which was left to him by his father and grandfather. Harness racing in our family goes way back to the early 1900s. Angus is just carrying on the amazing platform Dad left us.
“He’s 78 now and all of our success is because of him. I will never forget that,” Garrard said.