Clerk of the course horse salutes at Parkes

Many a tall tale has been spun about the clerk of the course horse beating the field home at a race meeting.

Well, it happened on Saturday at Parkes!

However, to be more specific, in a round about way.

Purchased by Heidi Smith to be her clerk of the course mount at Broken Hill harness racing meetings, the 10-year-old gelding Meteor’s Man prevailed in a thrilling three-way photo finish to the 1000m Telescope Tyres & Batteries Benchmark 50 Handicap.

The road leading to the stables of Broken Hill trainer Heidi Smith has been a long and winding one, starting out with the then three-year-old Meteor’s Man being trained by Robbie Griffiths in Victoria.

After placings at Moe and Cranbourne, Meteor’s Man was sold to Queensland and trained at Rockhampton by Jacko Sigvart won three races during 2015 and 2016.

John Poots, another trainer from Rockhampton, then had Meteor’s Man and there were numerous placings over the next 23 starts.

In late 2019 Meteor’s Man came to New South Wales and the Broken Hill stables of Michael Wayman.

Finding a race to suit, Wayman won with Meteor’s Man at Lock, a small town in South Australia on the Eyre Peninsula, about 300 kms north west of Adelaide.

Back to Victoria and at the last of 15 starts for Swan Hill trainer Con Kelly, Meteor’s Man won at Mildura.

Formerly from remote White Cliffs where her mother and brother still run the family station, Heidi Smith has held a trainers licence for several years and more recently moved to Broken Hill

Heidi is also the clerk of the course for Broken Hill Harness Racing Club which conducts about 10 meetings per year.

Requiring another mount for the next season of harness racing she purchased Meteor’s Man from Con Kelly at Swan Hill.

Before starting his new career as a clerk of the course mount, Meteor’s Man was nominated by Heidi Smith for a race at Parkes.

Setting out on the 820 kilometres  journey to Parkes, she reached the half way point at Cobar on Friday where she had arranged to meet another outback trainer Wayne Marsden from Menindee who also had horses to race at Parkes.

Travelling together the next day the trainers from remote locations in the far west completed the long journey to Parkes.

Saturday was to become the first day of the Statewide lockdown due to the worsening Covid 19 outbreak and in a rare occurrence there were no bookmakers or tote operating on the Parkes meeting.

If there had been betting, the veteran gallopers from the outback, Smith’s 10-year-old Meteor’s Man and Marsdens two 9-year-old’s Late Return and Three Rar would have most likely been the outsiders in the final event.

Coonabarabran trained mare Jewel Of The Clan and Three Rar led for home from Meteor’s Man, Williamson and Drummed Out with Late Return well back.

Desperately ridden by Clayton Gallagher, Meteor’s Man wore down Jewel Of The Clan (Jake Pracey-Holmes) to win by a short neck with a further short neck to Three Rar (Daniel Northey), which fought on gamely while Late Return (Kath Bell-Pitomac) finished fast for fourth.

As dusk descended on Parkes Racecourse, horses were loaded for mostly relatively short trips home.

Those on the back of the truck heading to the remote far west of New South Wales included Meteor’s Man the intended clerk of the course mount at Broken Hill trots which had maybe delayed those duties for a little while longer.