Queanbeyan's tight-knit racing community will come together at Sunday's annual Cup meeting to remember former Trainers Association head Darren Bailey, who lost his long battle with illness earlier this year.
Race two at the club's flagship meeting has been named in his honour, while leading trainer and Bailey's long-time neighbour Joe Cleary hopes to pay homage to his old mate by winning the $35,000 Queanbeyan Cup with war horse Havaduel.
Sunday's Cup meeting will be the first since Bailey's passing in August aged 58, after he trained horses alongside Cleary for the past two decades.
His wife Jan and daughter Molly will be on track to help the presentation to winning connections of the Vale Darren Bailey Maiden Handicap (1460m).
"When you go from seeing someone every day for 20 years to not knowing they're going to be back, it hits the system pretty hard," Cleary said.
"All in all it rocked the community as it does anywhere when someone passes away so young. He's got a good family and good people around them.
"I basically trained alongside him every day for 20 years. He was a real character, and the best bloke to drop a one liner you'ver ever seen. Just a good bloke.
"We used to be in the punters club together, four or five years in a row went down to Melbourne for the Derby and the Melbourne Cup. He was a real good character, a real good family man and gone way too soon."
Bailey was head of the Queanbeyan Trainers' Association when Brendan Comyn took over as QRacing chief almost 12 years ago.
Within months they'd struck up a close trainer-owner partnership, which included Queanbeyan star Hey Porter - a seven-time winner at the track.
He still had a training licence up until last year, and his final winner was with Linden Doom in April of 2017 at Cootamundra - a horse Comyn also had a part share in.
"He was the president of the Trainers' Association and there was a bit of grief with a couple of my predecessors," Comyn said.
"Rocked in to meet the new bloke and didn't know what he was going to get and I didn't know what I was going to get but we sat down and had a bit of a yak, no worries at all, anything we can do to help which of course means nothing but there ya go.
"He rings me back a week or so later...he said I've got a horse for ya, his name's Hey Porter, I'm getting him off Richard Clarke out at Braidwood. He's had a few starts, he's a mad buller and they can't really handle him down at Braidwood."
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Under Bailey's tutelage, Hey Porter won eight races, including seven at his home track. He was Bailey's most successful horse, but there were other stable stars along the way including Chaforind, and Dr Doug from his earlier years.
"He'd been off colour for probably two years, and he was winding down the horses," Comyn said.
"When he got diagnosed, not that he let onto anyone exactly what he was diagnosed with, but when he was diagnosed the horses got shifted out to someone else. He'd just turn up once a week to check it hadn't burned down.
"It is a big loss, and we're coming to terms with it. The racing club was very sorry to see him go."
The Queanbeyan Cup has been Havaduel's aim all year since the five-year-old joined Cleary's stable from Victoria before Christmas.
Three of his four career wins have come since moving to Queanbeyan, and Cleary was hoping he'd peak on Sunday after finishing four lengths away with a huge weight in the Cup prelude two weeks ago.
"This is the race I've aimed him at for quite a while, he gets a massive weight relief and senior rider [Blaike McDougall] back on," Cleary said.
"I worked him over six furlongs yesterday morning and he worked like a bomb. To be fair dinkum I don't think he'll beat Nicko's [Nick Olive's] horse [Pecuniary Interest}.
"He races well at Queanbeyan and he's probably a class above them but it's such a shallow Queanbeyan Cup, anything can win it."
Cleary also has speedster Kiss My Swiss in the Thunderbolt Handicap (1000m).
"She's another horse I've aimed at this particular race, she's got a really good base, she's been back in work nine weeks," Cleary said.