A different view of the track
By Hayley Clarke
There’s something a little special about the Clerk of the Course’s trusty stead at the Central District harness and gallops meetings. The six-year-old gelding is a retired Standardbred who had four starts in the sulky before switching to a new role on the racetrack.
Midnight Hour had four starts for trainer Doug Gale for one placing. After his last start in February 2017 he was retired to Melissa Lammas in Palmerston North. It was a match made in Heaven for Lammas and Midnight Hour (better known as Chevy).
“I started (Clerk of the Course duties) by using Lydia Pickford’s horse, I was looking on Facebook as I needed a horse who didn’t mind carts and I came across an ad for a little pacer, unbroken but quiet. I messaged the lady and went out Easter Sunday to meet him and jumped aboard. After a round of the track I jumped off and said well I'm happy if you are. Mrs Gale (Wendy) and Erin just smiled. He was one of Erin's favourites. Mr Gale (Doug) brought him in on Anzac day and six days later we were on the job.”
Two years on and Lammas and Chevy are covering harness meetings at Manawatu, Whanganui and Kapiti. They also work at the gallops at Manawatu and Woodville, Wellington chase day and also Otaki and Whanganui if needed.
Chevy’s favourite part about his role is getting pat's over the fence from anyone who will. Lammas’ favourite part about her job is making sure everyone is ready to race, walking around the stabling area “blowing my whistle” to get the drivers and horses out to the track. She also enjoys helping with the “naughty” horses when needed.
For Lammas the desire to become Clerk of the Course came from her parents, Robbie and Rosie.
“I started with the gallops aged 12 when five Clerks were wanted. Then I started helping out when Mum or Dad couldn't do it. I Started at the Manawatu harness a couple of years ago. I Had a bit to learn but lucky dad had done Hutt Park and everyone was very helpful and happy to explain things about the code.”
Both of Lammas’ brothers are jockeys, Buddy and Cameron so racing runs in the blood.
When Chevy isn’t doing his Clerk duties he’s out and about doing a variety of activities.
“We have been to Taupo hunt week, a few little sport days and last January we competed at Levin A&P show. We also go to the beach and we have jumped round a cross country course.”
“In preparation for race night I lead my grey horse off him every now and again just to keep his eye in. I work him most days around the track or in the paddock.”
“He’s very special.”