02/04/2016 3:44PM

Harness: Meredith Noble following in the family footsteps

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Meredith Noble won four races in 2015.

Meredith Noble had attended harness races at the Greene County Fairgrounds in her hometown of Xenia, Ohio, for years, but can never recall a sound at the racetrack there like she heard on Aug. 5, 2015.

It was the roar of the crowd. And it was loud. And it was for her.

The 28-year-old Noble, driving in the third race of her newly-started career, was on her way to a 4-1/4 length win with Reckoning Day in an Ohio Ladies Pace Series event at the fairgrounds. The race was contested over a track named after her late father, Sam “Chip” Noble III, a member of the Ohio Harness Racing Hall of Fame who had passed away in January 2014, and Meredith was wearing her father’s helmet and colors.

In addition, Reckoning Day was trained by her older brother, Dan, for local owner Christi Pokornowski.

“When I’m on the track I’m so zoned into what I’m doing and what’s going on in that moment I don’t hear anybody else,” Meredith said. “But when I came down that stretch and I got right before the grandstand, I could hear that entire crowd cheering. I’ve never heard a crowd cheer like that. I don’t know if it was because it was a ladies race or if it was because it was my dad’s home track and I was wearing his colors, but I can’t even begin to describe how good of a feeling that was. It was just absolutely amazing.

“That was also very emotional; definitely bittersweet. But it was a wonderful win. Coming here and being at my home track where I spent so much time, whether I was just watching dad or helping out, I can’t explain how much that meant to me.”

Noble finished last year with four wins in eight drives, all in the Ohio Ladies Pace Series. She got her first career driving triumph three days prior to her win at Xenia, guiding April Roach’s Monibags Bluegrass to victory at the Preble County Fair in Eaton. Then a week ago she added to her resume by getting her first win as a trainer, as brother Dan drove Addys Way to victory in the Fillies & Mares Open at Miami Valley Raceway.

“I do it for the love of it, honestly,” said Noble, who works as a dental assistant Mondays through Thursdays and spends much of her remaining free time working with her brother and a stable of 18 horses.

“It’s a little bit of a transition since dad only messed with 2- and 3-year-olds. Dan’s given me the chance to mess with some of the older horses as well. I do like seeing the horses develop, and then once they’re developed I like helping them reach their potential, make them the best they can be. Even with some of the older horses there are still things inside of them that you can bring out that maybe somebody else hasn’t yet.”

Noble was always around harness racing growing up, helping out here and there, but her focus through her teenage years was on riding and show horses. About four years ago, she began helping her father more and more and soon she was helping train horses with her father and brother.

“I did that before we found out dad had cancer,” Noble said. “I had a lot of fun. I decided I wanted to give this a try. I always wanted to have a race with him and Dan, but we weren’t fortunate enough for that. I did training miles with the two of them. I will always have that memory. I will always have the memory of just the smile on my dad’s face of pure joy with the three of us being out there together on the track. I carry that with me.”

Following the passing of her father, Noble received encouraging words from Dan --- who himself has driven more than 4,200 winners and was the national dash champion in 2011 --- about continuing on a path to becoming a licensed driver and trainer.

“Dan came to me and said I’d worked really hard and I needed to do this,” Noble said. “He said that he saw it and dad saw it, that I had the talent to do this. He said he would keep working with me.

“I’ve been working with him on my days off. He keeps reminding me of things. It’s nice to have that relationship and we can reminisce and keep dad alive. He can teach me things that I didn’t get to learn from dad that he got to learn. I’m just really glad that I have him. It’s given us the opportunity to get closer as brother and sister.”

Noble has two horses racing Friday night at Miami Valley, Addys Way in the Fillies & Mares Open Handicap and E Ticket Ride in a condition/claimer. Dan Noble, who is fifth in wins at Miami Valley but only three victories behind co-leaders Trace Tetrick and Tyler Smith, will drive both horses and owns E Ticket Ride. Addys Way is owned by Perkins Racing Stable.

Although Noble is fully enjoying her time with the horses, she is not ready to make training and driving a fulltime career. She plans to continue working as a dental assistant for the foreseeable future.

“I work with some great people and for some great people,” Noble said. “It’s truly a team effort. I get to see something different every day. It’s kind of like coming in and working with the horses. I definitely have a passion for both.

“I’m pleased with how the horses are doing. I have no complaints. As long as they stay sound and everybody stays safe, I’m happy. I love the business, I love the horses, and I loved having that opportunity to learn from my dad.”

-Courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, please visit www.ustrotting.com