Todd Woodward knows he could still be making a living from driving tractors both here in New Zealand and in Western Australia.
But after doing exactly that for a couple of years, the 43-year-old was back in the winner’s circle on Sunday when winning the sixth event on the Rangiora grass.
Outsider Full Of Options provided him with his first victory since the 2010-2011 season. The 4-year-old Presidential mare, who was having her first start, is trained by Woodward’s boss, Robbie Holmes at Leithfield Beach.
Holmes drove stablemate Cyclone Kiwi into second, resulting in a $65.40 stable quinella.
“It’s good to be back and having that winning feeling again. You can’t beat it. I guess you could say it’s a bit like I’ve got a second lease life.
“I did drive a couple of winners for former Kiwi Graeme Bond when I was contracting in Australia though. I helped him out for three months.
“From May to July on I was driving tractors in WA and working with various crops like wheat. I did that stint twice,” Amberley based Woodward said.
Woodward left harness racing after driving for 20 years and training for 10 (1998-2008). He has won 226 ($1.6m) and 40 ($175,583) races respectively.
“I got bored and I knew I could get a tractor contracting job the day after walked away from racing - and I did. It was time for a change. Things were going stale.
“But I must admit it is good to be back amongst the horses again. Once it’s in your blood it’s there for good. It’s something I have always done,” Woodward said.
“It’s good to know that I’ve always got tractor driving to fall back on though,” he added.
The punters rated Full Of Options the seventh favourite of 12 in Sunday’s Country Feasts Catering 1950m maiden, and she surprised most of them by paying $24.70 to win.
Woodward got her up in a tight finish to get the decision by three quarters of a length in 2:33 even (mile rate: 2:06.2). Final 800m and 400m sprints: 60.8 and 28 flat.
“She’s coming to it nicely and the ways she’s going I think she can certainly win at least a couple more. Cyclone Kiwi is a pretty smart horse and she did well beating him.
“I was rapt with her performance. It was a bit of a thrill alright,” Woodward said.
Full Of Options, who is owned by her breeder Mike Bidwell, went into her first race-day assignment with a couple of trial placings.
She is the second foal of four out of Live Or Die mare, Two options. She won three of her 32 starts for Holmes.
Her first foal, and only other racehorse – Armbro Operative 6-year-old mare, Opting Options, won two of her 21 starts for Holmes.
Woodward said Holmes was working a team of about 40 on the beach. He said he was enjoying his time with him.
“He’s a quality horseman and I think we work well together. Between us we both have a little bit of experience to call on.
“Robbie has also got a quality team. If I was to single out one it would be Smiling Star. He’s a son of Grinfromeartoear, won eight races, and is very smart,” Woodward said.
by Duane Ranger (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)