By Duane Ranger
It’s been more than a quarter of a century since Paul Matis last trained and drove a double at a harness racing meeting.
Yesterday (Monday) the Greek-born former University lecturer, achieved that feat on the Marburg Pacing Association’s Frank Dance Memorial Racetrack, at the Marburg Showgrounds.
“The last time I won two at a meeting was when they raced the other way around at Albion Park. I’m picking that was 25 to 30 years ago.
“I even remember the horses’s names. They were ‘Bring me Flowers’ and ‘Mavrakkie’. Any win is a bonus, but to only have two drives at a meeting and train them both is a bit special,” Matis said.
Matis led and won behind Lighthorse in race two, and then did exactly the same three races later with Reddy Fire. They both drew one, and were the $2.60 and $2.50 favourites respectively.
Matis, who has his own accountancy business in Booval, is a former lecturer in commerce at the University of New England in Armidale, New South Wales.
“I came to New South Wales from Greece with my parents when I was four and then relocated here (Queensland) in 1975. Training and driving got me through University.
“There was no crazy drinking and wild women. I knuckled down and really gave the game my all back then – and still do. I’ve loved the horses forever.
“I got into harness racing in 1971 (aged 24). It might have been a lot earlier had I been allowed a pony when I was young,” Matis said.
The 72-year-old works a team of four at Purga and ironically, he said his best two standardbreds, didn’t line up at Marburg yesterday.
“Sir Semper Fidelis and Zenmach (both 11 wins) are both 7-year-olds whom I’ve got a little bit of time for. Any day you can get a horse to work to its full potential is a good day.
“I’ve won some nice races over the years and quite a few at Marburg. I hope the crowd were listening to my parade ring chat, and your video comments before each their races,” Matis said.
Just prior to both Lighthorse and Reddy Fire’s wins yesterday, Matis said confidently:
“They simply win! Get on!”
“We had the good draw and the gate speed to hold the lead. Thereafter I thought they would pace good enough to win, and sure enough.
“No-one ever knows the future, and I’ve been wrong before today, but it all went to plan and worked out well. It was a great buzz,” Matis said.
Meanwhile, the day was also a memorable one for 29-year-old trainer, Trent Hodges.
He trained and drove his first winner back after a four-year layoff. He nailed the fourth race behind 9yo Modern Art gelding, Manoflisa.
The $8 shot led all the way to win by 7.8 metres. He is owned by Emilee Annetts.
Hodges, who works part-time for his grandfather, Norman Annetts at Hatton Vale, has been concentrating on his main job as a sheet metal fabricator since he took a break from harness racing.
“I’m still working my main job, but wouldn’t be the trainer I am now without my grandfather, and Uncles (Noel Parish & Kevin Annetts) support. They help me a lot.
“I’ve been involved since my Mini Pony Trot days and since I got into the bigger horses, I’ve probably trained two to three winners and driven maybe five or six,” the former Forest Lake State High School student said.
“Marburg’s win was special. It’s been a long time since I’ve had that winning feeling. I can’t thank the Marburg Pacing Association and my family enough,” he added.
His Uncle Noel actually drove the Hodges trained $41 outsider, Its You Not Me, to a head second in race two behind the Matis trained Lighthorse.