Ardmore-based junior driver Tony Cameron won his first race in six lifetime starts at the Cambridge-Te Awamutu Harness Racing Club's meeting at Cambridge Raceway tonight (Thursday September 6). But that win pales in comparison to what the 24-year-old has already beaten in life.
Three years ago Cameron was diagnosed with cancer. He was told he had Hodgkin's Lymphoma (also known as Hodgkin's disease). The cancer originated from white blood cells called lymphocytes.
Cameron said if hadn't contracted the disease he may never have followed his father Dale into the harness racing game.
"I'm the youngest of four children in our family and the only one who got into harness racing. When I left high school I did brick laying for a couple of years and then worked as an engineering labourer.
"Then when I got cancer I thought life was too short and it was time I did something I really enjoyed. I learnt the basic skills off Dad and have been working for Tony Herlihy at Ardmore for just over a couple of years now. He has been really good to me and taught me heaps. You can see why he is a champion horseman," Cameron told Harnesslink.
Tonight Cameron drove second favourite Attitude Adjuster to a 1-1/4 length victory over favourite Miss Madoff (Simon Lawson) in a Junior Drivers race for 1-2 win pacers. Roughie, Captivating (Andrew Veint) were a length back in third.
Cameron had Attitude Adjuster in the lead early before trailing when Motu Just In Time (Zac Butcher) lead at the 2400m.
In the straight the son ofwhipped along the passing lane for his second win in five starts.
Winner's time for the 2700m stand: 3:29.1. Mile rate: 2:04.6. Last 800m: 59.8. Last 400m: 28.4. Winning dividend: $4.30.
Attitude Adjuster is trained by Tony Shaw at Cambridge. Cameron secured the drive after finishing second behind the 4-year-old at Alexandra Park on August 17.
"Tony (Shaw) had the horse with us for a while and I actually won my first work-out drive behind him a couple of years ago.
"But this win will stay with me forever. It's one of the best feelings I've ever had. Beating cancer was obviously my highlight but that aside this will take some beating," Cameron said.
Cameron says he still gets regular checkups but nine months of chemotherapy and radiation saw him cleared of the nasty killer disease.
"I just want to thank Mum (Annette) and Dad for everything they have done for me. I also want to thank the Herlihys. Tony is a great man to work for. Without these people I would never have won tonight," Cameron said.
Cameron is bred to be a top horseman. His father Dale has trained and driven more than 30 winners, while Dale's cousin - Robert was the 1993 World Driving Champion in Macau.
Cameron was born on December 3, 1987 in Southland but shifted to Pukekohe when he was two. He was educated at Waiuku College.
Watch Tony Cameron's first winning frive in the videos below:
FIVE STAR ANVIL WINS TE AWAMUTU CUP
Meanwhile $2 favourite Five Star Anvil justified favouritism when winning the main event of the night - the $9,000 Te Awamutu Cup for 3-7 win pacers.
The Doug Gale trained 6-year-old hesitated slightly from his 30m handicap but was balanced soon after and was then situated third in the six-horse field with two laps remaining.
Driver James Stormont then took the son ofto the lead at the 1100m. From that point the race was for second.
At the line he had almost five lengths to spare over place-getters Clive Bromac (Simon Lawson) and Aslan (Josh Dickie).
It was an equally meritorious performance from Aslan, who was brought back to racing by Robert Mitchell after a last being seen at the track on October 29, 2010 - when winning at Alexandra Park.
Winner's time for the 2700m stand: 3:26.9. Mile rate: 2:03.2. Last 800m: 57 even. Last 400m: 27.1.
Five Star Anvil has now won 11 of his 56 starts and placed in 17 others for just over $460,000 in purses.
It was his second win from five starts at Cambridge and first from 14 attempts over the distance.
by Duane RANGER (editor)
CAMBRIDGE RACEWAY HIGHLIGHTS:
Tony Cameron drives his first winner in race four.
Top Junior Driver: Simon Lawson (j) 2 wins.
Top Driver: Simon Lawson (j) 2 wins.
Top Sire:2 wins.
Top Trainer: Nine races and 9 winning stables.
Results from the Cambridge-Te Awamutu Harness Racing Club's meeting raced at Cambridge Raceway this evening (THursday September 6, 2012) were:
Race 1: The Geoff Small trained GEORDIA'S JURY () Simon Lawson (j).
Race 2: The Peter Ferguson trained THIS TIME DYLAN () Zac Butcher (j).
Race 3: The Adrienne Matthews trained UNCONDITIONAL LOVE () Sailesh Abernethy.
Race 4: The Tony Shaw trained ATTITUDE ADJUSTER () Tony Cameron (j).
Race 5: The Dane Alexander trained and driven PHOEBE GLADIATOR ().
Race 6: The Doug Gale trained FIVE STAR ANVIL () James Stormont.
Race 7: The Wayne Ross BE ATTELL () Simon Lawson (j).
Race 8: The Graeme Rogerson & Peter Blanchard trained BETTOR CULLEN (Bettor's Delight) David Butcher.
Race 9: The Jay Abernethy trained and driven STORMY BREEZE ().
By Duane RANGER (editor)
Tony Cameron winning his first race behind the Tony Shaw trained Attitude Adjuster:
The Doug Gale trained and James Stormont driven Five Star Anvil winning the 2012 Te Awamutu Cup for 3-7 win pacers: