Joy for legend Keith Joy

03 January 2018 | Graham Fischer

There was plenty of emotion with the win of Waitpinga Poppy at Victor Harbor on Wednesday, December 27.

The Waitpinga prefix has been used for about half a century by Victor Harbor harness legend Keith Joy.

Poppy is the last horse to be bred by Joy, who turns 84 this month, but his daughter Vicki Leane intends carrying on the tradition.

Joy is suffering failing health but was on course to celebrate the win of Waitpinga Poppy.

“It is a great thrill,” Joy said.

“I love harness racing, and I love the meetings here (Victor Harbor).”

The club has honoured the trainer-breeder’s contribution to the sport by naming the track’s back straight after him.

Waitpinga Poppy, trained and driven by Ryan Hryhorec, was the $1.90 favourite, and ran home strongly to score a half-head win from Culzean Castle ($3.30) which also ran home well with Jagged Shadow ($6.20), seven metres away third.

The three-year-old filly can be “a bit of a girl”.

Vicki Leane said her father had been working Waitpinga Poppy when the filly was about 18 months old but she had tipped him out during trackwork around Victor Harbor.

“At 82 I said, Dad, that’s enough,” Leane said.

“So we decided to look for a trainer and decided on Ryan.”

Waitpinga Poppy greeted her transfer to Hryhorec’s stable outside Two Wells by double-barrelling him and one hoof contacted his face damaging his nose.

“It wasn’t the ideal introduction,” Hryhorec said.

“She made a mess of my nose and I still have a scar.

“However, she does have ability and is on the improve and we now have two wins as compensation.”

Hryhorec said the filly had a leg injury as a younger horse which would prevent her from reaching her full potential.

“Her record of two wins a second from just four starts is good, but I think she could have been among the best of her age without that injury.

“Today’s win was good coming from back in the field and it was fantastic to have Keith on course to enjoy the victory. He has been a successful trainer-driver as long as I can remember, and he has done a wonderful job for the club here.”