By Richard 'Nugget' Turnbull
In every racing stable there are many individuals that make a country racing stable operation tick over.
In leading Emerald trainer Glenda Bell's Hogan Rd stable, the man at the forefront of the day-to-day operations is Kane Kenny, one of her most loyal friends and now, loyal employee.
Last week Kane was granted his strappers licence by QRIC.
The 31-year-old was diagnosed with autism at a young age.
Kane, originally from Dysart, was part of Glenda's racing operation before taking out a strappers' licence when he first expressed his interest in a role in the racing industry four years ago.
When first approached to take Kane on, Bell didn’t hesitate.
She has eased him in to the role while offering several life skills to help himself along the way.
Starting off with small racing chores, Bell thinks it's great to sit back and see how capable people with autism are and how far he has developed within the stable and with his life in general.
"The role has given Kane stability in life," Bell said.
"Kane can pretty much do anything around the stables now and look after himself with them, even the more unpredictable fierce unruly gallopers in the stable, Kane has taken it all in his stride."
Bell said it is a tough line of work the racing game with the early starts, long hours and horses that can sometimes be unpredictable and dangerous, but she has rigourious controls in place to ensure Kane is safe.
And, he has proven himself to accommodate the most street-hardened and unruly gallopers as a strapper, and is learning administration skills to follow the stables' work sheet, feeding procedures and has even learnt to swim a horse.
Kane travels with the team and has got a great rapport with horses.
"They just want to work with him not against him," Bell said.
"He has an uncanny knack with them and I think it's important for kids with autism to get a go at something, if they get a go they reward you."
Bell said it was very satisfying that she has given Kane a skillset he will be able to use for the rest of his life.
Kane when Fastnet Flyer won the 2017 Mackay Cup with Glenda, it was a day he will never forget, the biggest in his brief racing career.
On Saturday he helped lead in his first official winner as a strapper when Mono Lad ($21) took out the Benchmark 65 Handicap on Emerald Cup Day for jockey Mark Barnham.
Mono Lad is raced by Central Queensland racing stalwarts Val and Ron Beak, who weren’t on course for the win.
The feature race on the program, the Emerald Cup, was taken out by Tree of Knowledge Cup-winning Barcaldine galloper, Tuxedo Boy ($5.00).
Tuxedo Boy was piloted by 3kg claiming apprentice, Thomas Doyle, who made it two country cups in-a-row when he nabbed the Jared Wehlow-trained Worthy Hero in the shadows of the post.
Racing action in the Highlands heads to Bluff on June 9 for the club's big Cup and Newmarket meeting.