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Lee's Labours Of Love Far From A Hassle

By Ray Hickson

It’s never easy to combine two jobs but Orange trainer Lee Van Den Bos finds her careers as a nurse and racehorse trainer complement each other.

In the morning Van Den Bos tends to her team of horses with her husband Alex, she tries to get in a nap then heads off to work in special support for young men with disabilities such as Autism and other intellectual and behavioural issues.

In the lead up to Sunday’s $150,000 CDRA Country Championships Qualifier (1400m) at Mudgee, Van Den Bos has had to perform plenty of juggling to make sure her two runners, Loves A Hassle and Beau Hoffa, are on song for their biggest moments.

But she takes it all in her stride, aided by Alex taking on the afternoon feed shift.

Lee Van Den Bos with Country Championships runner Beau Hoffa. (Pic: Nick McGrath).

“I find that both go together,’’ she said.

“A lot of the people I work with are vocal but they can’t actually speak. So they are non-verbal as such and when you work with horses they are non-verbal.

“You have to use your skills of observation, it teaches you a lot of patience. The way in which you work with the horses is very much they way you work with them as well.

“If you rush a horse it gets upset and it’s the same with these guys, it takes them a while to understand what you’re saying and what you want.

“I’ve got two jobs, nursing and horse training, and I love both of them so they’re not jobs.’’

Van Den Bos certainly loves her horses.

Loves A Hassle, affectionately known as Romeo, and Beau Hoffa, who goes by the name Johnny at home, are stabled next to each other, work together, are both chestnuts with a baldy face and white legs and will jump from adjacent stalls at Mudgee on Sunday.

Romeo was given his nickname because he’s a lover and a very friendly horse according to Van Den Bos, while Johnny is so named because he was bought on impulse by her husband for his likeness to actor John Wayne’s horse Beau.

Loves A Hassle is a last start winner at Bathurst while Beau Hoffa, an Orange winner in October, had no luck in a Highway at Warwick Farm first-up from a break.

Van Den Bos said Beau Hoffa’s run at Warwick Farm should be forgotten.

“The horse next to him blundered and he blundered and the jockey was nearly dislodged,’’ she said.

“We went to the barrier trials after that because we were restricted with starts. Three times he’s been in races that have been run in track record time and he’s won two so he has the ability there.’’

Loves A Hassle has had a perfect preparation for the Qualifier and she said not much more can be done to have both ready for Sunday.

There is some conjecture in the Van Den Bos household though over which horse is the better chance.


Loves A Hassle wins the Championships Preview at Bathurst on February 11.

“My husband has a lot of faith in Loves A Hassle, I favour Beau Hoffa out of the two,’’ she said.

“They are different horses, Beau Hoffa has high cruising speed and sticks on at the end and Loves A Hassle has a brilliant sprint when he sees daylight. He can put two or three lengths on horses.’’

Travis Wolfgram rode Beau Hoffa last start at Warwick Farm but rides Loves A Hassle ($26 TAB) on Sunday while apprentice Chris Williams, who rode Loves A Hassle to win at Bathurst, will partner Beau Hoffa ($41).

Van Den Bos said there are some nerves ahead of the big day and should one or both qualify for the final at Randwick those nerves would definitely increase.

“Even to get them into this race is like a dream come true,’’ she said.

“You plan these things and it’s a privilege to get your horse a start. To make the final would be a double privilege.

“You dream of these things, they are pipe dreams for horse trainers.’’

All the fields, form and replays for Sunday's Country Championships Qualifier at Mudgee

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