Swan Hill trainer Heath Chalmers is arguably best known for his exploits in the rodeo arena, with the popular saddle bronc rider having won major events all over Australia.
On Saturday, he traded bucking broncs for thundering gallopers, enjoying a breakout day at Balranald when preparing his first winning-double, including the feature on the program.
Chalmers combined with John Robertson, who rode Its Who I Am to victory in the 1000m Maiden Plate before Mallee Hammer came out and won the 1200m Spring Cup.
“It was a really good day, and my wife and three little boys come to the races a fair bit and they enjoyed it,” Chalmers said.
“Plus, I have known Johnny for years, and he starved himself and come and rode them for me and it was good to see him get the winners.”
Chalmers travelled to Balranald confident of at least one winner, but he was thrilled to leave with a maiden double.
“I thought she (Mallee Hammer) would go well, but there were horses in that race that are better than her, but she is racing good and going well, and she was unlucky at Manangatang the start before.
“I was more confident with my maidener (Its who I am), and she won well.”
Chalmers, who had his first starter as a trainer with Run For Ryan at Mildura back in 2017, prepared his first winner in 2019, with South Detroit emerging victorious at his home track of Swan Hill.
Now 34 years of age, Chalmers has trained 10 winners, but more victories are surely on the horizon, with the cowboy starting to wind down his rodeoing commitments, while putting more effort into the training of race horses.
“I’ve been training since about 2017 but I have been riding gallopers since I was 12, and I was going to be an apprentice jockey, but I got kicked in the head and had 12 months off and got a bit heavier and just rode track work after that,” Chalmers said.
“It’s pretty hard. My wife (Amanda Chalmers) stays home and does a fair bit with the horses plus I have got a pretty good worker that helps me, but I mainly keep it to day trips now and don’t rodeo as much as I used to.
“I have some good owners around me, so it’s been the focus.”
Chalmers has a lot of experience behind him, and he is enjoying being out on his own as a trainer.
“I worked for Austy Coffey from when I was 15 to about 12 months ago. I was riding track work and helping him run his show and he had about 20 horses in work,” Chalmers said.
“I got a bit busier on my own and now I’ve got about 12 to 15 and a good mix of gallopers and breakers.”
Being a cowboy and a horse breaker, Chalmers admitted to being given the odd problem-horse to work on, but he said it was part and parcel of his job.
“You run into those horses. I am a horse breaker, so I can kind of handle them, and you get a few ones with problems, but I treat them all the same and some horses come around and some don’t,” Chalmers said.
While he won’t be heading back to NSW this weekend, Chalmers does have a big team nominated to race at Wycheproof, Victoria on Saturday.
For full Balranald results, readers can click here.