By Duane Ranger
One of New South Wales finest horsemen, Howard James, has nothing but praise for Racing Queensland’s recent Winter Carnival, despite winning just one race during his six-week stay.
The Jambaroo horseman recently campaigned two horses in Queensland and now wants to return again in 2020.
“This trip wasn’t necessarily about winning. It was about getting away from the cold and having a warm holiday. It was great. We covered our costs.
“I’ve raced horses all over Australia with Brian Hancock. We came to the Winter Carnival four or five times a few years back with some nice horses like Thorate, but this was the first time I have brought a couple of my own.
“The racing was great. Racing Queensland did a good job and the weather was warm. I really noticed just how nice it was in Queensland when I got home. Gee it was cold back here.
“It was a good holiday and a great way to spend six weeks. I think I’ll do it again next year,” the 62-year-old said.
James was ‘Interdominion King’ Hancock’s right-hand man for almost 20 years. He said he learnt everything ‘harness’ from him.
“I’ve always been able to work two or three of my own because of what Brian has taught me over time. I was a civil engineer for our local Harbour City Council for 35 years and the horses have always been a hobby – a passion that will always be in my blood,” James said.
James drove the Hancock trained Thorate to win the 1990 Interdominion Grand Final at Globe Derby Park, and then seven years later piloted Our Sir Vancelot to win the 1997 Miracle Mile.
“I got to know Brian when he lived 10 minutes away from me at ‘Tweeny Lodge’. It all stemmed from there,” James said.
“I’ve always liked to breed a few and then race them since then,” he added.
Elsu 8-year-old, Mortenson, was one such standardbred that James bred and raced here during the Winter Carnival.
That James trained and driven brown gelding won first-up at Albion Park on July 5 at odds of $19, and then placed twice in five more starts here.
“He’s out of my six-win Panorama mare, Tiarna Jay. I raced his older half-brother (by Ifihadyourluck). His name was Hachem and he won 16 times (from 232 starts).”
James’ 5-year-old, Thanks Jack, lined up seven times in Queensland from July 5 to August 9 for a last-start third at Albion Park on August 9.
“The horses paid their way and we had a great holiday away from the cold. I would recommend the Winter carnival to other trainers.
“If there was one complaint though, we did cop a lot of ‘visitors draws’. I’m sure the horses would have done better had they drawn better, but that can’t be helped and it is all beyond anyone’s control,” he laughed.
He said Queensland would always be memorable to him.
“I remember driving my first ever winner at Redcliffe back in the 1970s. She was a New Zealand Thor Hanover mare named Te Anau Miss. I’ll never forget it,” James said.