by Duane Ranger
Not many indigenous women train standardbreds, let alone nail their first winner at just their fourth attempt, but Danielle Fitzgerald achieved that – and some – at Redcliffe Paceway last Thursday.
When Artistic fella mare, Bambole Nere and Paul Diebert won the NR45-49 third race by 4.7 metres, Fitzgerald also claimed a $10,000 bonus on top of the winning stake of $2,815 – all from a horse that was gifted to her for free.
“It was a great thrill and an unbelievable feeling. Not many indigenous women train and own a harness racing winner – and I’m very proud of both that and my culture. It still hasn’t really sunk in. Paul Diebert said he was going to be the one to get me my first winner and sure enough!
“The QBRED Bonus just topped it all off. It is a fantastic initiative because it keeps horses and trainers like me in the game. It’s an incentive that just makes all the training worthwhile. I’m hoping she can go on with it and win the $7,500 next season. She’s still only five and got plenty of time,” Tarampa-based,” Fitzgerald said.
It was Bambole Nere’s third win in 34 career starts since her debut fifth at Albion Park on December 1, 2017. She’s also placed three times for $11,009 in stakes.
Diebert settled the brown mare in fourth position early from gate two, and then had her in the one-one ready to pounce. That she did, pacing the 2,040m mobile in 2;32.2, which equated to a 2:00 flat mile rate.
“If it wasn’t for well-know Queensland breeder, Steve Clements, none of this would have happened. He gifted the horse to me, so a big thankyou to him.
“She has had three trainers before me – the last being David Rodger (Jr) who trained her for two wins. She’s had two fifths and an eighth for me since late January.”
Fitzgerald only has one horse in work.
“I will be commencing veterinary science in 2021 at James Cook university but until then Im going to immerse myself in as much harness racing as I can. My next goal is to have a race drive. For me life has definitely begun at 40.
“I got my licence last year in August but haven't had the opportunity to train until now.
“I left Kenny Belford’s stable last year to go work for Grant and Trista Dixon. I left there to work and live at Richard Hutchinson's. Richard has been the biggest influence on my style of training to date. He's taught me so much and I admire him a lot." Fitzgerald said.
And speaking of admiration there was no-one prouder than Fitzgerald’s mother, Quandamooka woman Cynthia Stone.
“She was so proud. My Mum is very happy to see me carrying on our mob's involvement in the horse racing industry. Her Uncle Colin 'Mulberry' Anderson was a jockey and he won the Ipswich Cup.
"My Mum also owns part of a galloper called Whistling Arrow, who is a race winner.
“Family is very important to me, and these past few weeks have been painful after losing my sister-in-law recently – so this win was a nice pick-me-up for all of us,” Fitzgerald said.
In fact Fitzgerald said she was not the only family member to record a winner last Thursday.
“My cousin, Carlin Anderson, who plays for the Townsville Blackhawks, and is signed to North Queensland Cowboys, had a winner on the same day as me in the gallops.
“His horse is called Ephesian. How cool is that!” Fitzgerald exclaimed.
Family means so much to her that her lilac silks are a tribute to her 22-year-old daughter Lucy because it is her favourite colour.