By Tony Megahey
Keiren Hazelton, 27, acquired his training license just this season but, as a grandson and ambitious assistant of Gilgandra racing institution Bruce Parker, he’s no “L Plater” going into Sunday’s capacity Dubbo TAB meeting.
When Keiren, just a few weeks as a stand alone, trained his first winner in Soldier Poy on his home track the celebrations were long and loud and he followed up with Japingka at Dubbo recently.
Keiren’s on course Gilgandra stable is growing rapidly and he has three value chances on Sunday including Japingka, a four-year-old Wandjina mare who contests a Dubbo RSL Class 1 (1100m) for Clayton Gallagher.
Plus former Victorian mare Streets Of Suemori is ridden by Kath Bell-Pitomac in the Aqua West Maiden (1000m) while Gallagher is aboard Riva Rialto (NZ) in an Ezyquip Hire Maiden (1000m).
The one certainty is 85-year-old Bruce will accompany Keiren to the races. Bruce was an original Country Championships contender with 14-race winner Rajes Lover and Keiren as the strapper.
“I worked at the stables before and after school and couldn’t get to the races quick enough - always wanted to train my own,” Keiren explains.
“He’ll help me load, he’ll jump in the truck and we’ll yarn all the way to the races - he loves it - been his life, still is.
Japingka runs second at Coonabarabran on October 25
“While he was training he was course curator at Gilgandra, been the starter, barrier attendant - just a marvel.
“He’s still at the stables every morning, does the boxes and handles them. We’ve build up to ten already, as many as I can handle, so he’s a huge help.
“He knows their capabilities and where we need to go to win a race. Always has.”
At last count Bruce had 14 grandchildren and 22 great grandchildren.
“He says he can’t possibly remember all the names, but at Christmas he says as long as they don’t forget his,” Keiren chuckles.
Hazleton is positive enough going into Sunday’s eight-race TAB meeting.
“Without being over confident, they’ve done well enough to be competitive in the right races,'' he said.
“Japingka struck interference and still won and she’s a mare who is improving with racing although up in grade.
“I’d have thought Riva Rialto worked well enough to be our best hope until he drew wide.
“I’ve only had Streets of Suemori a few weeks but she’s a mare with decent speed in her form, she’s drawn and run a couple of tidy races at the Victorian regionals.”
At present in overcast weather Dubbo is rated a good four track.