By Dean Baring
Harness racing has many great people who have devoted their lives to the sport that so many of us love and get a considerable amount of joy and entertainment from. While the top trainers, drivers and some select owners seem to be fully recognised for their contribution to our code, which is great, I do think we can do more to bring to light those that have been a driving force of the industry for years. One such champion and a real gentleman of the racing scene has just clicked over 42 years of exceptional work. This phenomenal achievement from a very respected man may never be repeated.
Peter Wharton’s resume and connection to Harness Racing runs as deep and as proud as any person l know in our sport. This distinguished career started back when the average income of an Australian citizen was just $7,618 (about what l made last year), a loaf of white bread (none of that fancy stuff with seeds in it) cost just 24 cents, a newspaper was a mere 12 cents and the real kicker – a litre of standard fuel was only 57 cents.
I’m not trying to paint the picture that Peter is an old timer, however, when he started in 1975 as Deputy Editor & Advertising Manager for Australian Trotting Register, we did have Gough Whitlam as our prime mister and a population nationally of just 13.7 million. It’s also the year that North Melbourne belted Hawthorn in the grand final and Harry White rode Think Big to win the Melbourne Cup.
Harness Racing was firing in 1975 with Young Quinn winning the Miracle Mile at Harold Park in front of a packed crowd.
For the trotters, Alexander Park was the venue in 1975 that Castleton’s Pride won.
In 1990, when Peter took up the role as Advertising Manager for The Harness Racer, we had Westburn Grant win the Miracle Mile at Harold Park
In the same year, Thorate took the field apart in front of a massive crowd at Globe Derby Park to win the 1990 Inter-Dominion final. Many South Australians would love the opportunity to host this special event again and a part of me thinks it would be an exceptional move for the sport.
1996 was the year Peter started a 10 year term as the Advertising Manager & journalist of Harness Racing Weekly. Now this was the year that the mighty mare Norms Daughter won the Miracle Mile at Harold Park; later that same year, Iraklis won the 2nd running of the race as 1995 was cancelled due to renovations.
In 2006 Peter took over the role as Editor of Track Bred, a position he still proudly holds today. This is the year Be Good Johnny won the Miracle Mile
Blacks A Fake won his first of four Inter Dominion Championships in 2006 and it was the start of a very special run.
In 2014, the year Peter took over as Editor of the Australian Standardbred Stallion Guide, was when Beautide won Inter Dominion
The Miracle Mile that year was run in exciting fashion by Christen Me just ahead of Beautide and the fast finishing Guaranteed
The publication of the book that many trotting fans loved was “Great Trotters” which Peter co-authored with Ron Jenkins. While this book didn’t make the boys millions of dollars it certainly made for a fantastic read.
Peter has had an exceptional association over the years with some very distinguished studs; Aldebaran Park, Benstud Standardbreds, Durham Park, Empire Stallions, Grenada Park Mountain View Stud, and Stallions Australasia just to name a few.
Country Victorian radio station listeners would be familiar with Peters voice as he has been on commentary duties for over 1000 races – a role he enjoyed, being able to build a strong bond with people in the regional areas.
Peter has a gift at being able to find horses a new home or beginning – with hundreds of deals beings signed because of the hard work he has done. One of the more exciting transactions Peter managed was the securing of Shadyshark Hanover, the beautifully bred Cams Card Shark son now at Goodtime Time Lodge. This fast horse is from the same U44 family as Darlins Delight $2,901,926 ,Town pro $1,229,582 and Sassa Hanover winner of $1,148,621.
Peter would have lost count of the hundreds of written valuations he has done to help out breeders and owners. While he has been happy to do this, the occasional request from the courts when a dispute arises would be the challenging part of this work. While Peter’s core business has been helping people with marketing and general consulting on all things harness racing, what many people may not know is that has he has been a very successful owner over the years. Two of his favourites from a few years back are Go Van and Mandroit.
While Peter Wharton has a long illustrious career in our sport that’s spanned almost 45 years, I hope his passion and desire to help people in Harness Racing continues for many more years to come. My final words on this outstanding gentleman who has been a gift to this sport is very simply, Peter Wharton you are a star and thank you so much.
Approved By Dean Baring www.harnessbred.com
Driving The Future Of Harness Racing