It was appropriate that Sean Grayling drove his first winner on the Pukekohe grass yesterday. After all he grew up with horses at his father’s Pukekohe stable, and learnt to drive at Counties Kidz Kartz just across the road at the Franklin track.
It was also a just reward for the 18-year-old who on October 10 last year broke his wrist in a race-fall at Cambridge Raceway. He was rushed to Waikato Hospital and was out of action until December 29.
That was just his sixth race-day drive. He’s now had 19 drives for one win, two seconds and a third.
Grayling, last year’s North Island Cadet Rising Star Award winner, won behind the Tony Grayling (Dad) trained Brookby Prince.
The Monarchy bay gelding was the sixth favourite and paid $14.90 to win the $5,500 Tony and Anne Parker Trot.
He got the 5-year-old away quickly from his 30m handicap and was fifth in the running line early before lobbing into the one-one.
They then loomed up three-wide on the turn to win by 1-3/4 lengths from the favourite Handoverdakash and Tony Herlihy (MNZM). Roughie It’s Big Time (Phil Butcher) was 2-3/4 lengths back in third.
It was Brookby Prince’s second win from 32 starts. She trotted the 2300m stand in 3:08.1. Mile rate: 2:11.5. Last 800m: 64.4 and final 400m in 32.6.
“He was going real strong at the top of the straight. That’s when I thought this could be my first win. It was a great feeling all right,” said Grayling who is sponsored by JGH Chartered Accountants.
Grayling dedicated the win to his late mother Anne, who passed away on July 24, 2012. He also thanked his father and employer Barry Purdon for everything he has learnt in the sulky.
“I’m sure Mum would have been watching down on me. She encouraged my driving. I really miss her. I also want to thank Dad and Barry. They have been so supportive,” Grayling said.
“I’d also like to thank the owners Steve and Karen Dunn for having the faith in me to drive Brookby Prince the whole time,” he added.
He said he loved harness racing especially being employed by Hall-Of-Famer, Purdon.
“I’ve learnt so much working here. In fact you never stop learning. It’s not hard to see why Barry is a master trainer. He’s a legend.
“Zac (Butcher) also works here so I’m working alongside the best people and the best horses,” he said.
Grayling was born in Pukekohe and left Pukekohe High School at the end of Year 11 to join the Purdon barn in December 2011.
“It was such a great feeling to win. Super in fact! It might have come a lot earlier had I not been out for 10 weeks,” said Grayling who is also a loose forward in rugby, and brilliant cricket fielder and lower order batsman.
Grayling said his goal for the remainder of the season was to land a “couple” more winners and then one day to try and one day qualify for the New Zealand Junior Driving Championships, and then ultimately the Australasian Junior Finals.
“I’ve got a long way to go yet, but I’m really enjoying what I do. I have wanted to be a harness racing driver for as long as I can remember. I’m leaving my dream,” Grayling said.
By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)