Names revealed for Horsham Invitation Drivers Championship

Competitors for the 33rd edition of the Decron Horse Care Noel Smith Memorial Horsham Invitation Drivers Championship have been confirmed.

Horsham Drivers Championship.
Horsham Drivers Championship. Picture: HRV

The meeting will be staged on Monday, June 17 with 10 drivers invited to battle throughout the afternoon.

"Ellen Tormey returns to defend the title she won last year with two wins, a second and a third in the four heats," Horsham Harness Racing Club president Terry Lewis said.

"She does battle against Greg Sugars, Chris Alford, Nathan Jack, James Herbertson, David Moran, Chris Svanosio, Jack Laugher, Jason Lee and Glen Craven in the five-heat contest.

"The Invitees really enjoy the competitive aspect of the day with bragging rights up for grabs, but we also make a big effort for all the industry participants who have a starter at the meeting."

Three of the five ratings-exempt heats should be especially attractive for connections of lower-rated horses. These include a $6000 up to NR45 pace selected from the bottom upwards, a $6000 pace for up to NR49 under the same conditions and the same again for a $6000 NR up to 49 trot.

The two other ratings-exempt heats, for more highly-assessed pacers, are a $9000 NR57-65 and $8000 NR 52-56.

Rounding out Horsham's program are a $7000 three-year-old maiden, $7000 two-year-old, $6000 trotters handicap and a $7000 standby for two and three-year-olds.

"This is the sixth year of Decron as naming rights sponsor of the Noel Smith Memorial," Lewis said.

"Merv Butterworth will be here with us to present the perpetual shield to the winner, along with Decron Horse Care product and merchandise showbags to the winning trainers of each heat."

"Carbine Chemicals were on board for our very first Horsham Invitation in 1990," said Lewis. "And their support has continued in every year since, with Carbine Chemicals product for trainers of placegetters in every race on the card thanks to Jensen Baker."

The 2024 field includes several young bloods along with Chris Alford, who first competed in the 1993 series. It was an inauspicious debut by the then 21-year-old reinsman with a fourth, fall and seventh in the three heats, but he returned to take the crown in '94 and again in 2011 and 2017.

Along with Tormey, other past winners in the June line-up are Sugars (2015), Lee (2021) and Laugher (2022).

The late Gavin Lang, with four titles (1991, 1992, 1996 and 2024), is still the one they have to catch.

Nominations for the meeting close at noon on Wednesday, June 12.