NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK: Donna Grisedale with her seven-year-old gelding Waltzing Willie at the Coffs Harbour Racing Club.
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK: Donna Grisedale with her seven-year-old gelding Waltzing Willie at the Coffs Harbour Racing Club. Sam Flanagan

Dynamic duo are relishing a fresh beginning

HORSE RACING: The racing industry has been built on a risk versus reward economy.

From punters laying down their hard-earned cash, breeders deciding to which stallion to send their mare and trainers deliberating in which race to place their gallopers, every decision in the game can affect your bottom line.

A couple from down south have recently rolled the dice and taken the ultimate leap of faith. The result has seen them land in Coffs Harbour, a town they had never been to before.

"We decided we wanted more of a country theme and we looked at a lot of options, but this was the best because it's got every facility we need,” trainer Donna Grisedale said.

"The only person I knew in Coffs Harbour was Sally Taylor, so she looked into a few options for us and found this stable.

"So we flew up one day and had a look at it and that was it.”

Donna and her husband Jon have relocated from Kembla Grange and are intent on making this all-or-nothing move pay off.

"We've spent a fair bit of money knocking down the barn and rebuilding it, so we don't plan on moving any more,” she said.

Donna has been training for nine years, while her husband Jon has been a jockey since he was 14-years-old.

Donna admitted working together could put a strain on the relationship at times, as the pair had their good and bad days.

"I have most of the say at the stables and he does his part race day,” she said.

"If we win everyone's happy, but if we lose and I'm not to satisfied with the ride it's a very quiet trip home,” she added, laughing.

Coming from a provincial track, Donna is in awe of the facilities Coffs Harbour posses for a country location.

"The tracks are good - there's plenty of options out there to work on, the pool right next to the barn is perfect and the beach is five minutes away which we've used every single day, so no complaints at all.”

Having trained winners from Gosford to Kembla and everywhere in-between this season, Donna said the lay of the land down south had become an increasingly tough slog for trainers.

"Kembla Grange is more like a midweek meeting now, fields are full of Chris Waller and Peter Snowden horses,” she said.

"It's very, very hard for your average provincial or country horse to win races any more at Kembla. The only country track options around us were Goulburn and Nowra but you're getting those city trainers going there as well because it's only an hour and a half away on the freeway.

"It just makes the country trainer travel a bit further again to what they usually would to try and get away from the city horses coming in.”

Now the Grisedale's, who have bought a home in Woolgoolga, have their sights focused on the future. They have six-year-old mare Clara Et Moi racing in a 1400m maiden at Coffs Harbour on Tuesday.



Delays expected during vegetation clearing

premium_icon Delays expected during vegetation clearing

Pacific Highway work will cause a delay.

Stonewalling on bypass rolls into court

premium_icon Stonewalling on bypass rolls into court

It was a frustrating day in court with the RMS for Cr Sally Townley.

OPINION: Why Rugby Australia should be thanking Israel Folau

premium_icon OPINION: Why Rugby Australia should be thanking Israel Folau

THE fullback has given rugby union a parting gift in this sorry war.