IF THERE'S been a silver lining to COVID-19 lockdown for harness racing hobbyist Ian White, it has been the improved family time.
The Huntly-based reinsman is a maths teacher at Castlemaine Secondary College.
But with teachers and students, including Ian and wife Susan's daughter Lauren and son Brent, schooling from home throughout the past two months, there has been plenty of time for family pursuits, particularly on the sporting front
White said the biggest beneficiaries had been the family's horses, who have seemingly thrived on plenty of extra attention.
He insists this is reflected in the stable's recent results.
Trained by Ian's father Bill, Double Dot has produced a pair of consecutive wins after going without one in the first 39 starts of her career, while at Kilmore last Thursday, Full Of Fizz broke through for her maiden win at start number 13.
"With remote learning, the kids are home and I'm home from school and we can all work together," White said.
"We can run the horses against each other at home, instead of alone.
"I'm sure the attention is helping."
If there is anything Full Of Fizz has needed plenty of during her lifetime, it's attention.
The lightly-raced five-year-old mare has endured plenty of mishaps and misfortune along the journey, according to White.
"She's had a fair bit of time off because she decided to kick through a fence and nearly skinned all the skin off her back leg and needed to be operated on," he said.
"Then she got an ulcer behind the eye that had to be treated.
"She's not the friendliest of horses at times, hence the name Full Of Fizz.
"She's tried everything she could not to get to the track, but that only makes it sweeter when you win a race.
"She's one we bred on our own out of our former good race mare Miss Tiny Tot (who won 13 races, including a handful at Moonee Valley and a Loddon Valley Cup at Wedderburn).
"We bought her at a general sale at Lord's Raceway for $500 and she ended up winning over $100,000."
White hopes Full Of Fizz might emulate Miss Tiny Tot as a bit of a late maturer.
"Her mum didn't really come good until she was four, five and six, so hopefully there are a few more wins in her," he said.
A win to Full Of Fizz came on top of a second-straight victory for Double Dot, giving the stable three winners from its last six runners.
With both horses entered in the same maiden race on September 15, White missed out on the drive on Double Dot in what eventuated as the five-year-old mare's first win.
He said he was only too happy to relinquish the reins to Rod Lakey, who was also aboard the mare at her second win at Charlton last week.
"When we have two in one race, I always pick the roughest to drive, so Rod got the drive and did a great job," he said.
"He's had four drives for us for two wins, a second and third, so we're not complaining.
"Now that she is going well, Rod can stay on.
"She's basically the kids' horse. Lauren and Brent do all the work with her.
"They have a double-seated sulky and they sit there together and jog her, and then one of them will do the fast work. It's a real family concern."
Winning too is a team effort for the Whites, according to Ian.
"The wins have really put a smile on everyone's face. Dad is 86-years-old and has been doing this for years," he said.
"With me and the kids, there are three generations prodding around with the horses out here (at Huntly)."
Lauren, 17, and Brent, 14, are actually the fifth generation of the family to be involved in harness racing.
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