Day At The Track

Thirteen proves lucky for Sydney youngster

03:00 PM 01 Oct 2019 NZDT
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Ryan Sanderson in action in trackwork,Harness racing
Ryan Sanderson in action in trackwork

The number 13 is synonymous with bad luck. You just don't have 13 guests at a dinner party. And many people avoid getting married on a day marked by this dreaded number.

But it's not a superstition that's going to hold much water with young Sydney harness racing driver Ryan Sanderson.

The sixteen-year-old recently landed his first winner as a reinsman -- you guessed it - at his 13th attempt!

"I've had a few third placings, but I really hadn't got close to getting a win," he said.

"When I headed off to drive at Newcastle last Saturday night, I really thought I could be in the money somewhere."

But showing the poise and experience of a driver well beyond his years, Ryan drove eleven-year-old gelding Don Boston (Ponder USA-Full Pleasure (Armbro Operative USA) to perfection to land first prize in the $6630 Wolf Blass Pace.

"Gee it was a great feeling. I was pretty excited when I went across the line," he said.

After an early burn with an opening quarter of 27.2, Ryan steadied the pace to 30.7, 28 and 29, for a mile rate of 1.54-9.

"I had a talk with trainer Brad Abbott before the race. We decided to try and lead all the way because that's how Don Boston has won a lot of his races," Ryan said.

"It was the first time I've driven him, but he was always travelling nicely. He's a great old horse who has now won his past three races."

Don Boston will line-up for his 200th race start at his next outing and has been a grand campaigner over the years, with 34 wins, 25 second placings and 23 thirds for stakemoney of more than $266,000.

Ryan said he had been around horses for as long as he could remember. His father Shane is a former A Grade rugby league player in Queensland and represented Australia in an under 20s competition but is now a highly-regarded trainer.

Shane Sanderson has been associated with a number of classy horses over the years, with well over 450 winners to his name.

"My mum Naomi loves the sport and lends support as well as doing well lots of hands-on stuff around the stables," Ryan said.

"We've cut down our stable numbers a bit in recent months. I think we are down to 11, but that's still enough," he said.

"I'm doing Year 10 at school now, but mum and dad have decided to let me try to pursue a career in harness racing at the end of the year.

"I came through the pony trots. Then there was a heap of track work and I drove in trials to get my B Grade driver's licence.

"Most of my race drives so far have been for dad, but I'll take other drives as long as it doesn't interfere with my studies - school comes first for the moment."

The family has been based at Menangle since early 2016 and previously trained at Gatton, west of Brisbane, in the Lockyer Valley region.

Ryan said that while he used to enjoy playing rugby, he was more focused on harness racing.

"I've only ever wanted to do the horses," he said.


Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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