Veteran harness racing driver returns to Bendigo

VICTORIA’S oldest reinsman, 85-year-young Eric Hurley, will drive at Bendigo’s Lord’s Raceway on Saturday night. 

Hurley is best remembered for his partnership with the great Minuteman, a champion that raced more than four-and-a-half decades ago.

Hurley and Minuteman won the Inter-Dominion final at the Melbourne showgrounds in 1964 and had dual success in the world’s richest standing start event for pacers, Victoria’s Hunter Cup, in 1964 and 1966. 

Born in South Australia in 1927, Hurley won his first race at Kadina, north of Adelaide in 1952.

Sixty years on, Hurley teams with five-year-old gelding Steaming, a son of Artesian, which he trains and owns with his son Jeffery, in the Alabar Pace. The pacer has drawn barrier one in race one at 6.22pm. 

This season Steaming has raced five times, placing third twice at Melton and Hurley’s wife Jeanette said that the horse just loves Eric. 

“He whines if Eric leaves him alone for five minutes when they are at the races together,” she said. 

“Horses have been Eric’s whole life, he loves them and they love him.” 

Steaming is one of two horses being trained by Eric at his Parwan stables near Bacchus Marsh. 

The other is a young horse not yet racing and the Hurleys also have two broodmares on their lot that are ready to foal this week. 

“It’s been a big week, Eric had his birthday yesterday, we have the mares about to foal and we’re racing at Bendigo,” Jeanette said. 

Jeanette said Eric was really looking forward to Bendigo’s big race event on Saturday night, November 3.

Hurley is one of 11 veteran drivers that have been invited to compete in the Veteran Drivers Challenge at Bendigo’s Anniversary Cup night. 

“Our industry does not acknowledge our veterans enough. We think it is terrific that Bendigo has organised this race on such a big night,” Jeanette said.

Eric Hurley driving champion pacer Minuteman.

Eric Hurley driving champion pacer Minuteman.