Simon McMullan has decided to end his junior driving days on a high.
The 25-year-old Franklin horseman steered Take A Hint to victory on co-trainer David Butcher’s 50th birthday at Cambridge Raceway last Thursday night – and then said that’s his race-day driving was all done and dusted.
“Who knows I might return to the sulky one day, say if I lease a trotter and have to drive him, but that’s it for now.
“I certainly won’t be driving as an open horseman next year. I want to concentrate on one thing at a time. I’m in a privileged position working for Steven and I want to keep improving as a trainer.
“That’s where my focus is now,” McMullan said.
Take A Hint won the last race of the season at Cambridge. He and McMullan sat in the trail and then pounced to win the $7,000 Fairview Motors Mobile for C2-C4 pacers.
They won by three quarters of a length pacing the 2200m mobile in a slick 2:42.8 with final 800m and 400m sprints of 58.5 and 29.8 seconds.
The black Washington V C gelding won with a 1:59 mile rate. It was the 4-year-old’s fifth win in 28 starts. He was the third favourite and paid $8 to win.
“He’s a nice horse. Not many pacers can go 2:42 and that tells me he’s got a couple of wins left in him yet.
“It’s a drive I won’t forget in a while,” McMullan said.
Pukekohe-based McMullan has driven 55 winners since taking out his licence in 2008. He’s also placed 130 times from his 648 starts, and won $428,521 in stakes.
Training-wise he has won 29 races and just over $360,000 since joining forces with Reid at the start of the season. They finished 19th on the national training premiership.
But McMullan has been with ‘The Reid Man’ for eight years now.
“Steven had no right to make me a partner in his stable at the start of the season. He has rewarded me for my loyalty to him and for that I’m extremely grateful.
“That’s why I want to give the driving away. I want to repay Steven’s faith in me and keep doing my best and learning from him,” McMullan said.
McMullan’s first training wins came via Roger Ramjet and Sweet Jane in races one and four at Alexandra Park on August 16.
McMullan was educated at Burnside High School and has worked for Brent Lilley, Brendon Hill and Doug Gale prior to coming to Reid’s Pukekohe stable.
His work ethic soon ensured he was stable foreman before being promoted to a partner on August 1.
Reid and McMullan are working a team of about 25 out of the Franklin Trotting Club’s complex on Station Road.
“We’ve got some nice young horses coming through the ranks. Potentially I think our rising 3-year-old Art Major colt - Zennart is the most promising racehorse we have got. He won really well first-up at Alexandra Park on Friday.
“My ambition is to train a Group One winner next season. Hopefully some of the younger horses or perhaps Unforgiving can do that for us,” McMullan said.
By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)