Wayne Hamilton was a pre-schooler when he visited his uncle’s harness racing stables at the Newcastle Showgrounds in the 1970s and though he was little more than a toddler, it made a huge impression.

It took the respected Naval officer thirty years to rekindle his interest in the sport but he has really found a niche as a breeder of quality yearlings in the last few years.

“My maternal grandfather, Albert Warby, was a freelance rider and driver around Newcastle,” Hamilton said. “He served in the Pacific during the Second World War and returned to harness racing after. He drove at the first Newcastle Showgrounds meeting under lights in 1949.

“His sons, my uncles Kevin and Ian Warby, both trained from the showgrounds and they used to take me to the stables quite a bit. “But after I started school they moved away chasing work, and I did not have any involvement in the sport for a long time.”

Hamilton joined the Navy and worked as an officer on frigates and destroyers for almost two decades.

He spent time in active war zones in East Temor (2000-2001), Afghanistan (2004) and two tours of Iraq (2004 and 2007).

“It wasn’t until the early 2000s that I got involved in harness racing. I started helping my uncle Kevin at his Denman stables when I wasn’t on active duty,” he said. “The naval lifestyle can be pretty intense and I found the horses to be a great escape – a good way to decompress.”

“In 2003, I started driving in trials to get my reinsman’s licence and did the TAFE course while I was on active duty.”

Hamilton was on an exchange program with the NZ Navy in 2004 when his ship was sent to support troops in the Iraq War. By sheer luck, he was able to catch the Interdominion final in Perth, won by Jofess, before deployment and it really sparked his passion for the sport.

“The Perth Interdominion was the last weekend of freedom before I deployed to Iraq,” he said. I had just completed three months of intensive training and assessment.”

“Literally, we sailed into Fremantle that Friday morning after passing our final assessment and I headed for Gloucester Park to take in the final. Come the Monday, we were off to the Gulf.”

He left the Navy in 2009, got married and bought a 100-acre property in Ellalong, near Cessnock, and started to build his standardbred portfolio with his wife Eliza.

“It is a family operation. I couldn’t do it without Eliza. She keeps the operation going and the kids love spending time with the horses, giving them carrots,” he said.

The Hamiltons will offer a colt and filly at the APG Sydney Yearling Sale on February 25.

Lot 369 is a colt by American Ideal from Our Poppi Girl and is a half brother to Hamilton’s good race mare Frankincense, who won eight races and made the finals of the Victoria Oaks, the Queen Of The Pacific and the 4YO mare Vicbred.

“Our Poppi Girl is a big sturdy mare. She is boss of the paddock and this comes through in her foals,” Hamilton said “The colt is a flashy type. He is a good, strong mover. His grandam, Shes Cool, left 10 winners and her daughters continue to produce a swag of top class horses.”

The filly (Lot 314) is by Art Major from Comin In Hot. Her grandam, Chip And Gale, won $563,000 and is out of broodmare gem Bar Ron, who produced eight winners – including Bar Ron Boy ($1.51.8, $336K) and Laterron (1.52.9, $217K).

“The filly is a cracking type and just glides across the ground. She is from the family of Beautide and Ignatius but they also produce outstanding fillies” he said.

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