Well-known Victorian harness racing owners Caleb and Laura Lewis owe a lot in every way to their trotting superstar Pink Galahs.
The couple have faced huge challenges during the COVID-19 crisis, as the operators of the Gordon Hotel at Portland on Victoria’s far south-west coast.
“Our pub, like all other businesses, has been hit hard. Last year Pink Galahs kept paying the bills for us. I would also say that mentally and spiritually the horse kept us going as well,” Lewis said after the pint-sized mare’s weekend Group One victory at Albion Park.
“We usually employ 50 staff at our pub and the cocktail burger bar. During the lockdowns we’ve provided takeaways which have been well supported by the locals and that’s at least kept a few staff going, but what Pink Galahs has done has been such a boost to us,” he said.
Pink Galahs (Skyvalley-Sweetasay (Tennotrump) became the first trotter to complete a clean sweep in the heats and final of the $52,000 Darrell Alexander Trotting Championship Final for trainer/driver Mattie Craven.
“Nearly every time the horse has won a Group One race, we’ve been in lockdown and not able to be there,” Lewis said.
“But if she keeps on winning, I guess I’m happy to stay at home with Laura and the kids and cheer from the couch!”
The four-year-old had won her two lead-up Queensland events and from her 20-metre handicap she was 12 lengths off the lead at one stage.
Craven made a lightning move three-wide at the 400 to sweep past the field and eventually win by nearly seven metres.
Pink Galahs, known as ‘Brown Dog’ around the Craven stables, has also won other group one features in the Bill Collins Trotters Sprint, Victoria Trotters Oaks and the Trotters Derby. She has had 16 wins and six placings from 30 starts for $269,000 in stakes.
“I thought her run the previous week was as good as any other. She is so small and lightly-framed, but Mattie just bores the work into her, and she gets better and better,” Lewis said.
“He told me the horse had pulled up a treat on Saturday night. We were talking not long after the race and he said she was pig rooting and carrying on while he was walking her around the marshalling yard.
“She is as sound as she’s ever been, so we are looking forward to next weekend’s Albion Park event with a lot of confidence. It’s a random barrier draw event so it would be great to get a nice alley.”
The Lewis couple race Pink Galahs with Laura’s father, industry legend Bryan Healy, who piloted champion trotter Maori’s Idol to many spine-tingling victories back in the 1970s. Healy, now retired on the Gold Coast, was on track to cheer home Pink Galahs-with Craven fittingly wearing Healy’s green and gold colors.
Lewis said he had never had a trotter before meeting Laura and her father Bryan.
“From the moment I met Bryan, he was always pushing me toward the trotters-now I’ve virtually hardly got a pacer!” he said.
Lewis said the name Pink Galahs come about through some childhood memories of driving around as a youngster with his grandfather David Lewis.
“We’d go around in his ute, mustering sheep and other farming work, where he lived up in the Mallee around Swan Hill. He’d always have John Williamson on the radio,” he said.
“Most of the horses are named after songs-and that particular year of two-year-olds I decided to go with John Williamson songs.”
By Terry Gange for Harnesslink