The Holberton name continues at Wayville

03 October 2017 | the Office of the Chief Executive Officer, John Lewis



Any mention of harness racing at Wayville and the name Holberton will almost certainly come up. Trainer Alby Holberton was a record breaking trainer at Wayville from the 1950s through to its eventual closure in April 1973. Holberton was the first trainer in Australia to prepare 100 winners in a season which he did in the 1961/62 season finishing with 105 winners plus two deadheats.

Harness Racing South Australia’s Retro Night return to Wayville on Friday 27 October will again see the Holberton name on the program. Josh Holberton is one of the 12 drivers selected to take part in the meeting.

“I’m thrilled to have been invited to take part and proud to represent the family, especially my grandfather, on the night,” said the 27 year old Holberton.

Despite a strong family involvement in harness racing, Holberton did not take up driving until he was 24 years of age, but has made a strong impact. Since then he has driven 102 winners, an excellent achievement considering he is a freelance reinsman with no stable backing.

As a 10-year-old, Holberton started driving in the Pony Trots and continued through until he turned 16. “My best pony was called Houdini,” Holberton recalled. “He was named because very often he found a way to escape from his yard. “Houdini was a wonderful pony and won countless championships.

“I remember Grandpa (Alby) coming across to watch me on the ponies but unfortunately I was too young to absorb some of the wonderful stories of Wayville.

“Dad, (Alby’s son, Lance), took me to Wayville during the Royal Show and showed me the old stable barn where Alby’s horses were on race night and it was not unusual for him to have as many 25 runners each meeting.”

Holberton said his biggest win was achieved just recently on 19 August when he drove Arm A Princess, trained by his father, to victory in the Mermaid Stakes at Globe Derby Park.

“It was very special because the filly was coming back from an injury which threatened her career and she is owned by family members and trained by Dad.”

Another important win for Holberton was a victory on Lolasflyingfantasy at Strathalbyn on 12 June as the filly is owned by his other grandfather Don Lee and family members.