The Blue Pearl Classic is an event for female drivers that is a proud partnership between the sponsor of the race – Kiel Tiling and the Swan Hill Trotting Club. A mid-January warm summer’s night provided the perfect evening for an all-female star studded line up at one of Victoria’s most progressive harness racing clubs – the Swan Hill Trotting Club in northern Victoria. The second running of the Blue Pearl Classic over 2240m took place in near perfect conditions. Irrespective of the code of racing, sponsorship is paramount to any club’s longevity and Tony Kiel of Kiel Tiling certainly went over and above providing race sponsorship. His constant presence and passion for the harness racing fraternity and in particular womens’ opportunities was warmly received by all on Blue Pearl Classic night and no doubt the future, as Tony’s desire to continue to develop the pacing race, into a national event for women in harness racing is extremely admirable.
Tony’s respect for the arduous role fulfilled by reinswomen in the sulky is obvious and with the stunning blue pearl pendant that he had arranged as a gift for the winning driver on the night Monique Burnett who steered Pocket TheDeal to victory, had many reasons to be very pleased! Additionally my own appointment as the race broadcaster was a huge honour and fabulous opportunity of which I thoroughly enjoyed and I would like to express my sincere thanks to both the Swan Hill Trotting Club and Kiel’s Tiling for my engagement on the night.
With Australia boasting some of the greatest reins-women of all time, including the world record holder – Kerryn Manning, whose tally of race wins now well exceeds that of American superstar jockey Julie Krone, the standard of racing at Swan Hill was world class. Including Group One winner – Park Life from Queensland, however Group One glory and world records aside, nothing could detract from the incredible sense of timing, stamina and wonderful guidance of Monique Burnett with her horse Pocket TheDeal, trained by Glenn Douglas, taking out the Blue Pearl Classic for 2018.
The evening also provided plenty of fun for spectators and race goers as well. With blow up bouncing horses on the lawn providing many laughs for both onlookers and those attempting to ride their inflatable mounts first across the finish line in front of family and friends – no easy feat I am told.
Lastly a massive thank you to owners, breeders and trainers of the incredible standard bred horses that provide not just a wonderful spectacle for race goers and punters, but for so many women including myself, a life filled with the joy of the horse and so many amazing opportunities.
The field for the Blue Pearl Classic, 2018
Victoria Shaw. Race caller & HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Arabian Racing Journalist of the Year 2015.