By Duane Ranger
A fifth-generation member from the New South Wales-based Hewitt family has settled in Queensland, and is wanting to further his harness racing career in the Sunshine State.
Thirty-one-year-old Jason Hewitt, who is the son of Bernie and Cath, last month started shoeing and working horses for Australia’s top trainer – Grant Dixon and his wife, Trista, who are based at Tamborine.
“I’m keen to make a real go of it here. I’m working horses for Grant and Trista in the morning and shoeing for them and Ben Battle in the afternoons.
“If a drive pops up I’ll take it, but for now I’m really concentrating on my farrier work and ultimately would like to make a living from that,” Hewitt said.
Up until May this year, Hewitt had spent seven years away from harness racing.
“I moved back home when Dad and Doug (brother) needed a driver. Then later in the year I got talking to Ben and he said there could be an opportunity up here. Ben used to work for Dad a few years back,” Hewitt said.
Born in Crookwell (NSW) and educated at Kelso High School, Hewitt moved to Bathurst when he was young, and like his father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great grandfather before him, he soon became hooked on harness racing.
“I started out in 2004. I worked for Dad when I left school, but I also did work experience for the Fitzpatricks back home, and when I was 19, I actually worked for John McCarthy up here, when he was really going well at the time.
“I was 19 back then and when EI (equine influenza) hit everyone, I left the industry for seven years and initially worked in construction and only pottered around with the horses when I was needed. I then moved to Canberra and worked with machinery before working in the mines, and then the Railway,” Hewitt said.
“Then earlier this year I helped Dad out and it’s all blossomed from there. I think I even drove five winners last season,” he added.
All-up Hewitt said he had driven just over 1000 times in his stop-start career, winning 116 races and placing 269 times. He now has an A-grade licence.
“I’ve always loved driving, but these days it’s not the be all or end all. Who knows I may even train my own little team one day, but for now it’s all about getting established here, and getting a few more horses to shoe.”
Hewitt said his most memorable drives came behind By The Left in the (January) 2006 Bathurst Cup and winning his first race behind Mark Shannon at Bathurst in 2004.
“They are two that come to mind. I also trained and drove Forever in Blue Jeans to third in a Sires stakes race as well. I’d like to do more driving, but like I said shoeing is my income,” Hewitt said.
Hewitt is the grandson of Thomas Hewitt, the son of Bernie. His brother Douglas and sister Gemma Rue are also quality drivers.
“My cousins, Brad, Scott and Sam all drive, as does Dennis Picker, who is Dad’s sister’s oldest boy. It’s a real family affair.
“I tried other jobs, but once harness racing gets in your blood it’s hard to get rid of it. I love Queensland and I enjoy the racing here. I just want to let people know I’m up here and keen to help them,” Hewitt said.