Nelson Harness Racing Club stalwart Dan Byrne with wife Joy in the birdcage following a race named in their honour on Dan's 90th birthday. Dan part-owned I W McNik, above, which finished fourth in the race. Photo: Jacob Page.

Stalwart celebrates 90th bday in style

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Sport Dan ByrneDan Byrne’s 90th birthday celebration saw the Nelson Harness Racing Club stalwart watch a horse he part-owns earn a pay check in the race named in his honour. Dan watched his trotter I W McNik run a gallant fourth in its race debut during the Nelson Owners Trainers and Breeders Dan and Joy Byrne Trot at the Richmond Racecourse on Sunday.

Dan affiliation with the club came as a punter in 1961, two years later he was training his first horse on the track. Dan estimated he’d had 35 winners since those humble beginnings. He has also been a regular fixture on the committee for the club.
Dan says one of his first horses, Peterborough, still held a special place in his heart.
“I won five with him,” he says.
“I love racing, we’ve had so much fun over the years. I’m of Irish decent so [horse racing] is deep in my blood. My father trained gallopers in the early 1900s.”
Dan was thrilled with the first run of I W McNik.
“He got back in the running but came home really well.
“I’m hopeful it won’t be long until he gets a win on that performance.”
There was more local success with local trainer Ian Thomas winning with Taittinger Rose in the Dick Sanders Memorial Mobile Pace.
Ian says the seven-year-old mare was “a tough old tart” after she stuck on in the run home, despite an uneconomical trip to reward the faith of punters who kept her close after a narrow second on the first day of the meeting on Friday.