THERE will be few happier racegoers than a certain 51-year-old gentleman at tonight's opening meeting of the $1 billion revamped Happy Valley track, writes Lawrence Wadey. He's going there to work, but it is going to be his pleasure and everyone else's to welcome him back. He is, of course, Jockey Club chief stipendiary steward Bernard Hargreaves whose last seven months have been right out of the textbook from hell. What started as a night with stomach cramps led to three major operations, a chunk of one lung lopped off, a bone graft to his spine and two holes drilled in his head. 'But for months I had the date of the re-opening of Happy Valley pinned up on my hospital wall,' Hargreaves said yesterday from his Jockey Club office where he is currently doing half-day stints as he eases back into the swing of things. 'It was a great incentive and it will feel absolutely brilliant to be back. 'I'm delighted, especially as at one point it looked more like I'd have to settle for the International Races on December 10. 'But I've made it and it feels terrific.' Hargreaves' delight is shared by the tight-knit racing community. He may be head of racing police, which isn't the kind of position to naturally endear him to trainers and jockeys, but he is known for his fair-mindedness and they will be queueing up to shake his hand before tonight's proceedings get underway. Lance O'Sullivan, the nine-time champion jockey of New Zealand, spoke for all his weighing-room colleagues when he said yesterday: 'You couldn't hope for a better man in the job. 'He is very, very fair and never gets on your case unnecessarily. 'But he also knows what's going on as you would expect from someone who has ridden winners himself. 'Don't make any mistake. He can be tough when he has to and that's been shown by the way he's fought back from all these illnesses. 'All the jocks will be glad to see him back.' Much of Hargreaves' knowledge of the sport was gleaned from his days as an amateur jumps jockey in England where he rode 38 winners in point-to-points and hunter chases. He even rode a winner of a selling hurdle at the quaint and decidedly idiosyncratic Towcester - pronounced Toaster. Hargreaves will tell you that he won despite the filly running away with him, others will say it was a brilliant front-running display from the West Country amateur. But he was never going to make a career of it a la Francome, Dunwoody or Maguire. He turned to stipendiary stewarding and is now in his eighth year in the territory, having spent 10 as a stewards' secretary in England. But not one of those days in the past 18 years will have the significance of this evening.