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Double sulky driver says to Ekka winners, ‘stay calm and relax’

Showgoers fortunate enough to experience the thrill of sitting in a sulky behind a harness racer at close to full speed at the Ekka should “stay calm and relaxed”, says experienced reinsman Darren Ebert.

The once-in-a-lifetime dual sulky ‘drive’ is on offer to four winners of a Racing Queensland competition.

They will sit alongside a professional driver in a specially designed sulky and complete laps of the Main Arena track at about 50km/h.

Trainer-driver Ebert will be one of four drivers in command on the night, with a competition winner in the adjacent seat experiencing the first-hand thrill of harness racing.

Ebert has been the driver of a dual sulky several times at the Ekka and says it’s one of the best experiences any showgoer or harness racing enthusiast would enjoy.

“People have thoroughly enjoyed it, and no one really freaks out although at the start they get a bit concerned, they have a handle to hang on to on the side of the gig,” Ebert said.

“The best they can do is stay calm and relaxed the person driving has control, and just sit back and enjoy the ride.

“We got a pretty steady pace.”

It would be hard to find a more experienced driver of the Ekka Main Arena than Ebert, who had his first drive on the track as a 16-year-old in the late 90s.

He also won an “Ekka” driver’s premiership before the sport went into hibernation.

This year he will spend more than a week eating sleeping and driving at the Ekka, but that also means utilising his downtime with his three children and wife Rebecca enjoying the spoils of the show.  

“I like doing the shows than racing at the big track, and that’s what I grew up doing,” Ebert said.

“It’s about going there and having a good time and it’s a great family atmosphere.”

Harness racing was a regular staple of the Ekka until 2002 before it returned in 2014.

Besides the sport providing a thrill for competition winners, there is also $15,000 up for grabs in the Garrards Final on Sunday, August 14.

It’s here where Ebert will be his most competitive, with a solid team of 10 horses to compete across all nine days of the Ekka, with racing starting at 6.30pm in the Main Arena.

“I’ll be taking a team of 10 horses, and we camp there with the horses,” Ebert said.

“There is the main final but there are a few finals but it’s also a chance to catch up with friends and enjoy the Ekka.”  

Torque Factor in full flight at the Ekka’s Main Arena with Darren Ebert in the sulky.

By Darren Cartwright