Harness racing industry to wrap arms around Brett Cargill

Described as an “unsung hero” in the harness code, the well-liked Brett Cargill is about to become the major focus of the entire industry in Queensland.

The long-time industry participant is fighting his way through rehabilitation following a recent stroke.

Unable to earn an income through racing and with the medical bills rolling in, the harness racing industry are set to wrap their arms around the Cargill family early next month.

Embracing Pacing will help kick-off the TAB Queensland Summer Harness Racing Season at Albion Park by hosting the “Brett Cargill Fundraiser Evening”.

The respected Cargill has travelled far and wide across his tenure in the industry but he has always made his way back to the Sunshine State and usually to the stable of Group 1-winning trainer Darrel Graham.

For the well-known Graham family, Cargill is like family, Darrel’s daughter Brittany says.

“He is a great horseman and has always been a big part and important of our stable,” Brittany said.

“We miss him around the stables as he has been a great loss to the day to day running of the business.”

For experienced trainer Darrel, he has been close mates and worked with Cargill for almost four decades.

Brett Cargill with Brittany Graham as a baby.

In his younger years, Cargill would spend the summer months in Queensland before heading to Melbourne to work for the Lang team across the winter.

“We virtually grew up together,” Darrel said.

“He is a great guy Brett, he worked for me on and off half a dozen times.”

He is that entrenched in the Graham clan that one of Brittany’s first visitors after being born was Cargill, with a picture of them together to prove it.

Sadly for the Graham and Cargill families, the stroke occurred at their racing stable.

“We found him on the floor of the bedroom, it was awful,” Darrel said.

“He has come through it but he has a long road ahead.

“His mindset and attitude is fantastic; he does his exercises.

“We saw him walking the other day and he has a long road ahead, but if anyone is going to do it, it is going to be Brett.”

According to Racing Queensland’s Senior Harness Racing Manager David Brick, Cargill’s time in the sport underlines his importance to the code.

While he trained with great success in his own right, he was often the stable foreman for other trainers to ensure their operation kept ticking along.

And, whenever the stable he was working for at the time did produce a feature winner, Cargill was rarely in the winning photo on the track.

“Brett is like many participants in harness racing, he is an unsung hero behind the scenes,” Brick said.

“He has worked for a number of trainers and he is crucial to the industry, playing a number of different roles over the years.

“It is great the industry gets behind everyone – not just leading participants – that is a fantastic thing about our industry.

“We all look after each other in harness and Brett is a well-liked and respected person.

“He has always gone about his business in an unassuming manner and no doubt the industry will get behind him in his time of need.”

Jack In Flight and Our White Night were two of the leading standardbreds Cargill prepared in his early years – with the pair combining to win more than 50 races.

“He is a horseman and a very good horseman at that,” Darrel said.

“Any time I had a horse to travel away interstate with, any of my good horses, Brett would go.

“He knew my routine and I knew the job would be done if Brett was doing it.”

Cargill has enjoyed a special affinity with trotters across his life, with Brittany driving her first square gaiter for his stable many years ago.

“I now love trotters, so Brett might have had something to do with that,” she said.

Brett Cargill in his younger days.

Darrel described his mate as a typical “journeyman Kiwi”.

While he had great success in Victoria with Jack In Flight and Our White Night specifically, he always seemed to return to the Sunshine State.

“He always comes back to Queensland,” Darrel said.

“I think he sort of regards it as home these days, maybe.”

Darrel’s wife – Linda – has been a regular visitor of Cargill since his stroke.

And, when Linda – or any other members of the family or Cargill’s friends do visit him, they often take him some sushi and a chocolate thick shake from McDonald’s, which are his favourites.

Those that have visited the recovering horseman in recent days have noted he is on the improve.

“I have no doubt that when he can get back out and amongst it all, he will,” Brittany said.

“If you asked him, he would probably tell you he could do it tomorrow (laughs).

“He is the type of person that if there is improvements to make, he will make them as he is so willing.

“He is taking the right steps but there is still a long way to go.”

Brittany notes Cargill is missing the interaction and conversations with those at the track while he is in the recovery process.

Darrel described his mate as a “likeable character” that hopefully many will support through the fund-raising efforts.

Our White Knight after winning the Group 2 Shepparton Gold Cup back in 2013.

“He is everybody’s friend,” he said.

“In the harness racing industry, we are one big family.

“He is a happy go lucky fella and would always be talking to people at the races.”

Embracing Pacing in conjunction with Albion Park Harness Racing Club is holding the fund-raiser to help support the Cargill family next Saturday night.

Click here to purchase tickets.


By Jordan Gerrans