Day At The Track

Haydon trotting along in family footsteps

09:00 AM 14 Sep 2020 NZST
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Joint training partners Haydon Gray and Maddie Ray with their recent winner Rigondeaux and victorious driver Abbey Turnbull,Harness racing
Joint training partners Haydon Gray and Maddie Ray with their recent winner Rigondeaux and victorious driver Abbey Turnbull.

Young Bendigo harness racing trainer Haydon Gray was always destined to take a shine to the square gaiters.

Gray is a grandson of legendary Victorian trainer Cory Van Ryn who won multiple trotting races over the years, including some of the most prestigious Group One feature events. And Van Ryn's son David was also well-respected when it came to trotters.

"They are both always ready to give us a helping hand. We appreciate it because you never stop learning when it comes to square gaiters!" Gray said with a laugh.

Gray and his partner Maddie Ray have a team of four in work and there's another half dozen to come back in-all trotters!

"I'm not really sure how it's worked out this way. We went in a training partnership two years ago and our first starter was Miranda Kay, who won the trot race at Echuca," he said.

"It was her race debut-as a 10-year-old. I drove her and that was a pretty special win. Perhaps that was the start of us both having a love for the trotters."

Gray and Ray are now enjoying the deeds of their four-year-old gelding Rigondeaux (Majestic Son-Galleons Bliss (Sundon), who recently chalked up his sixth win from just 21 career starts.

The talented trotter won narrowly at Maryborough, which provided an emotional and memorable victory for connections and reinswoman Abbey Turnbull.

"Maddie and Abbey are the best of mates. They are like sisters," Gray said.

"They first of all got to know each other when they were living out Doreen way, near Melbourne. Abbey's parents Craig and Rebecca were private trainers for the Bamfords (successful owners Kevin and Colleen) and Maddie would stay over there at weekends," he said.

"The Turnbull's were like a second family to Maddie. They were really great and later gave Maddie her first race drives. That's how she got hooked on harness racing."

Gray said it was awesome to finally repay them in a small way by giving Abbey a winning drive.

"It was the first time Abbey has driven for us, so it was a fairytale. It was just absolutely perfect. We were all so happy and the horse went huge for her," he said.

"When 'Chuck' (that's his stable name) was going through the grades, we would just sit him up and he'd sprint to them. Now he's more versatile. He can do some early work and still has a good turn of speed.

"Maddie and I own the horse along with a longtime mate in Trevor Forsyth. He's our best owner and has been a big help to us. We've knocked back some nice offers, but Maddie would kill us if we ever sold him because he's her favorite!

"We turned him out for four months late last year because he was galloping and getting into some bad habits. But the spell's done him the world of good. He's a totally different horse with six wins and six placings from his past 14 starts."

Gray is a feed delivery driver for Sandhurst Stockfeeds, and Maddie is a Bendigo Health nurse, so it's generally 4am starts for both, so they can work their horses before heading off to their employment.

"We train out of Len Mahar's place, overlooking the Bendigo track. Len is unreal. He's like a Pa to both of us and has been a great support," Gray said.

The young training duo makes no secret they have high hopes for 2yo trotter Rogue Gentleman (Majestic Son-Yankeeiron (Yankee Pace), a placegetter from four starts.

"He is a real nice type who shows heaps of promise. He virtually went straight to the races after being broken in," Gray said.

"We'll have to be a bit patient because he gets fizzy, but he's shown enough at home for us to start thinking of getting some big plans in order," he said.

Gray said Rigondeaux would have his next start at Shepparton on Thursday.

"He will be in a standing start event for the first time-but we'll be okay because Abbey's on a winning roll!" he said.

 

Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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