With the bustling sights and sounds of the track feeling like home, a standardbred seems like a natural fit for a role as the Clerk of the Course’s horse.
This is the goal Casey Parker is working towards with her handsome grey Smokey, as he develops his skills under saddle with hopes to one day don a red coat and find his way back to the track.
Parker has developed a keen eye for what makes a good Clerk horse after years working for Harness Racing Victoria as Clerk of the Course at the Warragul, Cranbourne, Yarra Valley and Melton tracks.
“Being a Clerk of the Course is such a fun job. I get to spend the whole day riding my horse, watch the races from the best viewpoint and work closely with the racehorses,” she said.
“As a Clerk, I’m responsible for making sure the races run on time and to provide any assistance the drivers may need when they’re out on the track.”
A Clerk of the Course will often bring their own, specially-trained horse with them to work. The selection process to find a horse who has the perfect combination of a calm temperament and the athleticism required to handle the different aspects of the job is quite rigorous.
Smokey, also known as Silver Surfer, had 28 starts for two wins, four placings and just over $28,000 in prizemoney as a trotter on the track.
“I’m confident Smokey will be great at this role because he’s bold, honest, willing to learn and tries really hard to get things right, which are important factors for a Clerk’s horse,” Parker said.
“Now that Smokey has been introduced to the things he’ll see and do at the track, such as leading horses off him and going to the track without an expectation that he’s going to race, the next steps will be to get Smokey out to riding club and some equestrian events to allow him to experience pressure and expose him to new things.”
Parker’s confidence in Smokey comes from her longstanding affinity for the standardbred. Having enjoyed a range of pursuits with her last standardbred Jack, including barrel racing, bush riding, riding club and jumping, she sees Smokey as having the quintessential traits that make the breed such a perfect choice of riding partner.
“Standardbreds have so much to offer. They’re generally reliable and calm horses and often retire young with so much life left to live,” Parker said.
“Standardbreds are super adaptable and I often see them out at equestrian events being good at everything!”
Parker hopes that Smokey will one day make it to the Clerk stage and that his striking colour (everyone loves a grey) and handsome face will encourage people to wander over and have a chat.
“I look forward to showing Smokey off and telling everyone he’s a standardbred. There’s a lot of misperceptions about the breed, which Smokey will be able to set straight.”
Parker is keen to discuss the many wonderful qualities of the standardbred with Smokey’s new fans, as well as promote the great work Harness Racing Victoria’s program HERO is doing to transition horses into their new homes post-racing.
She believes HERO has been instrumental in demonstrating what standardbreds can do after they finish their racing career.
“You have to have a really nice horse to be a Clerk’s horse and I don’t see any reason why Smokey can’t do the job!”
You can follow Smokey’s Clerk training via his Facebook page: Silver Surfer NZ-Smokey gets a job | Facebook