Rothwells keen to make mark in Queensland harness ranks

The Rothwell surname will certainly be one to keep an eye on in the Queensland harness racing ranks through 2023 and beyond. 

Twin brothers Nathan and Will Rothwell have recently returned to the Sunshine State after a spell learning the tricks of the trade in Victoria over the last three years.

The 20-year-old Nathan already boasts six victories as a reinsman – as well as eight as a trainer – while brother Will is nearing his debut in the sulky on race day.

The Rothwell clan go in search of their first winner back in Queensland on Friday afternoon at Albion Park when pacer Tommy Bligh starts over 1660 metres.

Originally hailing from the Sunshine Coast, the brothers relocated to Warragul in Victoria to further their knowledge and skills in the harness code by completing a Certificate IV in Racing (Harness Race Driver) at Community College Gippsland. 

While the Rothwells father – Mark – has been around the horses for much of his life, Nathan notes it is tough to break into the harness racing game if your family is not deeply ingrained in the code.

That is why they decided to study in Victoria before opening their own barn back home in Queensland. 

“We decided to stay down there another year after the course as we had the team going pretty good,” Nathan said.

“We eventually decided to come back after finding a property to train out from.

“We were always definitely going to come back to Queensland but it was a bit hard to leave as we were going so good, having a couple of winners a few days before we left.”

The Rothwell clan have set up shop at Mount Hallen with three in work and are optimistic of expanding their stable to as many as half a dozen in the near future.

As well as preparing his own team of horses, Nathan is keen to take outside drives for other stables as he builds his network of contacts in Queensland.

Will – who is younger than his brother by a minute – will soon join his twin in the driving ranks.

He needs around five more trials to be completed before he can drive in races.

Mark also has a stable hand licence and helps prepare the team of pacers, as well.

When Will is approved to drive on race day, Nathan says the brothers will split the drives for their stable.

Nathan (left) and Will Rothwell with their first winner as owners, and Nathan’s first as a trainer-driver.

Nathan has high hopes for five-time winner and A Perfect Dance.

She is the stable star of the three currently in his team, he says.

A Perfect Dance has won two of her last three starts – the victories coming at Cranbourne and Melton – and she will soon return from a break.

“I think the two mares are good, A Perfect Dance I think will get to metro grade and race consistently on a Saturday night,” Nathan said.

“I think she is the really good one of the three.

“Playa Blanca should be back within a month and A Perfect Dance is just a little bit behind her.

“A Perfect Dance has untapped ability; she has only shown a little bit of what she can do.

“She is a powerful horse and it is pretty exciting.”

Tommy Bligh has had four starts back in Queensland after relocating north, with his best effort a fourth-placed finish at Redcliffe last month.

“Little Tommy goes ok but he is a limited horse,” Nathan said.

“If he gets a soft enough run, he can definitely finish over the top.”

The Rothwells have been around horses for much of their life as Mark has been a long-time owner and stable hand.

Nathan considered being a jockey when he was a teenager – walking around at about 60kgs now – but opted to go towards the harness code instead.

By Jordan Gerrans