Harness racing trainer Maree Campbell shares how she got into the trots, how she shares that passion with the next generation and what integrity means to her in the latest Integrity Matters Q&A.
How did you get involved in harness Racing?
I was lucky enough to have a father (Mr Edward “Ted” Zimmer) and grandfather (Gus Zimmer) who trained and drove a team of horses from their Calivil property. After moving to Bendigo my father always had one or two horses in work, so I’ve had a passion and love of the standardbred for as long as I can remember.
Do you have any mentors who have assisted you along the journey of becoming a licensed trainer?
My father has been the biggest influence, but growing up training horses from the adjoining property to Bruce Morgan I frequently jogged horses with Bruce, Henry McDermott, Ron and Ken Pocock, all of whom were always willing to give advice when asked. Although not a trainer but I will always be grateful for the wealth of knowledge I obtained from working for Dr John Brown and the numerous veterinary associates he employed over the 30 years I was there.
What have been some of your biggest successes in harness racing?
Minute compared to most but what I would consider my biggest success is breeding Belittled when he broke the track record at Bendigo going 1:51.9 in February 2020, Lucinda Mac placing second in the Group 1 four-year-old Vicbred, Lohi Liz breaking a world record for three-year-old pacers from the standing start and Union Ally winning the Oaks memorial. And all four horses put together cost less than $10,000 in service fees, that just shows you can have a lot of fun in harness racing without spending a fortune.
You currently have a role with your local pony club, tell us more about that?
I’m the DC (District Commissioner) of the Bendigo Pony Club. This role involves organising activities and instructors for our rallies, which we hold on the first Sunday of every month bar January, grading of members and their mounts and co ordinating our competitions.
Do many of the boys and girls at the pony club have an understanding about your involvement in harness racing?
The majority of our members and their families know I’m involved in harness racing. Quite a few of (daughter) Holi’s pony club friends have stayed at our place and they all thoroughly enjoyed the interaction with our standies and everyone requests to come back.
What is the general understanding of the boys and girls at your pony club regarding harness racing?
Most of our members have attended harness race meeting either with their families or on a pony club outing. They enjoyed the different culture involved in the racing side of horses.
HERO attended at your local pony club previously, how was that received?
I organised for the HERO team to attend in June 2016 and again in July 2017. My husband, Paul, also borrowed the double-seater sulky from the Harness Racing Training Centre to enable our members and families to have a drive of a standardbred as well as ride a HERO horse. Everyone was impressed with the calm, willing temperament of the standardbred and loved the novelty of driving a horse.
What does integrity mean to you?
Integrity is of utmost importance in all aspects of life. Our personal integrity defines who we are as individuals. Are we honest, respectful, truthful, do we take responsibility for our own actions?