"I owe a lot to harness racing. It has given me so much, including my career, my fiancée, my daughter, a lovely barn, trips around Australia and the world, and an income."
Those were the emphatic words from 34-year-old Clarendon (near Laidley) horseman Trent Dawson, who has backed up those feelings by giving harness racing all he’s got in 2020. Last year Dawson resigned from his job at Gatton University to go “full-on” into harness racing. He started working at the University Equine division in mid-2010. Dawson said he had no regrets.
He has had a couple of Group One starters and drives this season, and on Saturday night he will line up Western Terror brown gelding, Love Your Work, in the Group One $100,000 APG 2yo Sales Graduate Final at Albion Park.
“He's had eight starts since April and is due for a spell. He has beautiful manners, but needs to strengthen up a bit. He will also develop more speed as he gets older. He's quite talented and should win a few races with age. He ran fourth on Friday in the Sales heat and that's as probably as far as he will go this season, but I'm pleased for Kevin. He was a nice buy," Dawson said.
Kevin is Kevin Russell, who co-owns Love Your Work with Rodney McAlpine. They were stoked to have a starter in another Group One event.
“I bought him very cheap, and Trent and Crystal have turned him around a lot to get him in the big race. I have been involved in harness racing all my life and this is a huge thrill for me. They are such wonderful trainers. “My biggest win was with the David and Lisa Miles trained Led Suitcase in the 2009 Breeders Crown 2yo Fillies Final at Melton. I’d love to win another big one, but just having a starter in the big race is such a thrill. “Trent and Crystal are just wonderful people. They work very hard behind the scenes to get the best results for their owners,” 65-year-old Russell said.
Dawson notched up his 500th career winner in March, but he has never been big on statistics. “My main objective has always been about making our way and paying the bills. That’s why I gave up freelance driving a few years ago. I’ve never placed a lot of emphasis on statistics,” Dawson stressed.
“I’ve always wanted to train my own team, and I owe a lot to my fiancée, Crystal, who has been a huge help, and I wouldn’t have achieved what I have without her. We are working a team of about 14, and enjoy what we do. We just want to keep those winners rolling home,” said Dawson, who is also Dad to 21-month old Matilda.
It was just over 18 years ago when Dawson, then aged 16, drove his very first winner. “I remember it well. It was on the Gold Coast behind the horse Dad (Geoff) trained named Smokey Dee. I’d placed on him before. He was an old favourite. A tough old buggar,” said Dawson, a former employee of the University Of Queensland’s Vet Clinic in Gatton.
But today the Somerset horseman is a quality trainer and driver - living his dream - working his own team. “My parents Geoff and Gail, have supported me throughout my career and have taught me so much. I owe so much to them,” Dawson said.
The Somerset horseman also paid a big tribute to Kevin and Kay Seymour – the owners of Egmont Park Stud. “They have been fantastic to me for a number of years now. They have allowed me to follow my dream. I have been training for them for a while and their advice – both racing and personally – has been so valuable. “I have been up to Egmont Park Stud and it is very impressive. I hope Kevin and I can keep a close association for many years to come, because he is an absolute genius and so kind when it comes to harness racing,” said Dawson.
Dawson drove the Grant Dixon trained Dynamic Dan to a head-second in the Group One $100,000 Qbred Triad Final at Albion Park on July 25. He said his best horse at present was the Hurrikane Kingcole 2-year-old filly, Talent To Spare, who had won two of her six starts and placed in two others since making her race-day debut with a win at Albion Park on March 17.
"She's a real talent but sadly broke at the start in the Final and tailed out last. She's way better than that and I think she will develop into an Oaks horse next season. She won her first two starts impressively,” Dawson said.
Dawson’s final word was directed at his fiancée. “I met Crystal through harness racing and since then great things have happened to me like Matilda. Crystal is the rock of our stables and together we want to make things happen. “I’ve been relatively happy with this season, and we just want to keep building on that. I think we are a great team because we love horses and we are both very passionate about this industry,” Dawson said.