Thursday, 4 May 2017

2017 Season - Week 1: The season has started...

...well, in England, at least!

I know, I know, this blog is supposed to be about harness racing in Scotland but with a fortnight still to go before the first scheduled meeting of the season north of Hadrian's Wall, the only racing there is to talk about is from other parts of the UK!

The 2017 season kicked off this year at York Harness Raceway, the home of Mick Welling's Camden Stud.  Despite there being a handful of meetings staged at the track last year, the fixture on May 1st was pitted as the return of York, with a number of changes made to the establishment.  Firstly, there's a new racing manager (Craig Stevenson; you may remember him as the guy who also stood for Regional Steward for Scotland, against/alongside me.  Neither of us got the job).  Then there's the refurbished bar (ironically, not an area I frequent much at York!):

Adrian Cahill photo
And last but not least, there's a new photographer.  Some bird who thinks she's the bees knees, 'all the gear, no idea' type.  Her name is Sarah Thomas.  The jury's out on her yet.

(No, there aren't two Sarah Thomas' in harness racing.  I'm the new photographer.  I use the term loosely; I'm just a person who owns a camera - but you can see my photos from Monday here.)

After two weekends of qualifiers and workouts at the track, a five race card was all that was on offer on Monday 1st May, however this was followed by four further qualifiers and workouts.  The sun shone and the meeting was well-supported by harness racing enthusiasts and members of the general public alike.

As the photos suggest (assuming you clicked on the link to look at the photos before reading on), Team Laidler had a storming start to the season with four winners out of five, and a second in the race they didn't win.  I can't post the results at the moment as they're not yet on the BHRC website, but keep an eye out for them on the results section on the main page.

As well as the individual action shots and the presentation photos that feature via the link above, I also managed to get some other interesting photos using both my camera and also a GoPro which, with the help of starter Simon Clarke and his partner Kirsty Legrice, we managed to fit to the starting gate itself.  With no way of knowing at the time how it was all going to turn out, we alternated between continuous photos (every 0.5 seconds) and video and here are the results:




View of the race from the start car

Pretty cool, huh?!

I'm still getting to grips with where the best place to stand as the photographer is but despite placing myself just before the winning line inside the track, I was still able to take some shots down the back straight (although post-editing these aren't as clear as the photos from the home straight).  I keep saying it: trial and error.  The next meeting is on Saturday 13th May and I'll be all over the inside of the track trying to take photos, having spoken at length with Janet Cockburn about some of the better places to stand.

Here's the only long-distance shot I've actually edited so far, as my priority was to get the individual action shots and presentation photos edited and published ASAP.  Since then the focus has turned to the GoPro, so perhaps tonight and tomorrow night I can actually see what else I have saved on the external hard drive!!
Frankie Camden setting sail for home
I don't think there's much else to say right now, other than the ideas for capturing the essence of harness racing seem to be working thus far, so fingers crossed for the remainder of the season I can gain the cooperation of other promoters in order to document this wonderful sport in photos and videos!!

Over and out,

#1 Groom

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