A huge night for Smith at Forbury
Craig Smith is the happiest man in harness racing tonight after producing a peach of a drive to get home on Vanhalem, a horse that he also holds a share in.
Smith is currently based in the south in Mosgiel, looking after a small team that had been sent south from John Dunn's Woodend beach arm of the stable. While a busy man preparing the stable runners this evening, Smith had time to hop in the cart and go around with Vanhalem a horse that he was recently given a share in.
"Nigel Armstrong (of Westview fame) brought all that about saying that he wanted me to have a share in the horse, after I lost my own horse Ohoka Benson. I couldn't believe it really, but thats the sort of guy Nigel is."
Smith had a degree of confidence about his chances tonight after a decidedly unlucky run last week.
"Well we were pretty stiff to be fair and I did think that perhaps tonight could be the night."
After drawing well, Vanhalem soon lost any advantage early being crossed by two runners and Smith thought that the writing was on the wall.
"It was touch and go really. I was nearly planted four back and I knew that we would be stuffed if that happened. Luckily though I managed to pop off getting a nice run. Then down the back when a few had gone around I managed to pop off again and got that great run into it. I was pretty confident turning for home and he ground out the win so well."
For 24 year old Smith, this was win one at his 29th drive.
"I've probably stuffed up a few along the way but I have tried to keep learning and take something positive out of each drive. Instead of thinking about when that win was going to come I focused more on the attention to detail and I think that has been invaluable really."
"Its quite a surreal feeling. I can't believe it to be honest," was his reaction soon after the race.
Smith was quick to pay credit to a number of people.
"Marty (Denton) has been great to work with since I have been down here. John is just amazing and such a great fella to work with. RJ (Robert) is the one that first gave me the opportunity to get into this game so a lot of credit goes to him too."
There was no time for celebrating for Smith though (tonight anyway) as he had to get Music on the track ready for his assignment and was then heading back home to Christchurch after the last race.
"I'm heading back with Kimberly Butt, because I am needed at Woodend Beach over the weekend. John and Ross are away with the two day Nelson meet and Mitch Kerr (a new addition to the stable himself) has rugby on Saturday. I'll head back down south at the start of the week. I'm picking that there may be time for a celebratory drink after next week's Forbury meeting."
But for now, Smith can revel long in the glory of that first win, something that he is not likely to forget anytime soon.
Posted: Thu 09 Jun 2016