By Duane Ranger
Sixteen-year-old, Zac Chappenden, drove his first winner since leaving Tullawong State High School at Redcliffe Paceway yesterday (Wednesday).
The Redcliffe-born teenager won the first event behind the Bianca Hooper trained Pass The Speights.
It was also his first race-day win for an outside stable, and second overall.
The 6-year-old Bettors Delight gelding’s head-victory came 49 days after ‘harness-mad’ Chappenden drove his first winner.
That milestone was behind his mother Melissa Kendall’s 6-year-old gelding, Aroona. He also won by a head that night at Redcliffe as well.
“It’s a great feeling to win any race. I’m just so happy and thankful to Bianca for the drive. I’ve known her since I was at primary school, during my Mini Trot days.
“I only left school four weeks ago, and it’s really satisfying to have now driven my first winner for an outside stable. I’ve got the bug now and just want to keep winning,” Chappenden said.
“It’s the best feeling ever. My target is 25 wins next season,” he added.
Chappenden pushed the button early with Pass The Speights and they led from gate two, before handing up to the eventual runner-up Topnotch Mach.
They then bided their time in the trail before pouncing in the straight. The bay gelding, who was the $10 fourth favourite, paced the 2,040m in 2:30.6.
It was Pass the Speight's eighth win in 53 starts and third for Hooper. He paced a 1:58.8 mile rate, and his sectionals were 31.4, 30.5, 28.9, and 29 even.
“I’m just rapt to be able to drive and work horses full-time for a living. Like you, I also thought of horses at school when I should have been studying.
“I’m just grateful to my parents (Phillip & Melissa). They have made it all possible and have let me live my dream. I have learnt everything from them, and just want to keep learning more and more – from everyone.”
The young horseman, who works for his mother, bought his own pacer recently, to both train and drive.
“His name is Holdingno Currency. He's a Western Terror 4-year-old gelding and I enjoy driving him. I've already placed several times behind him,” he said.
Chappenden grew up with horses and has driven about 50 Mini Trot winners. He has also had a steer in the Miracle Mile Mini Trot.
He loves rugby league and played in the front row. He is a big supporter of Queensland and the Brisbane Broncos.
Harness racing-wise, he said Todd McCarthy was one horseman he had always looked up to.
Chappenden has two drives at Redcliffe Paceway again today (Thursday). He lines up behind the Jonah Hutchinson trained Our Masquerade (6) in race one, and the Stephen Benz trained Rayong Princess (3) in the seventh event.
"I actually thought my best winning drive today would be in the last race behind the Donny Smith trained Our Uncle Alan. He drew two and had nice form, but had to be scratched.
"That would have been three drives for three different trainers. I'm just grateful for getting these 'outside' drives. I now want to prove to people that I can drive better than just okay," Chappenden said.
The talented teen was on stand-by for the Botra Young Drivers Series this year. Certainly a name for the future...watch this space.