Matt Elkins can be excused for raising his whip.
Just like a batsman in cricket when reaching a century of runs, they raise their piece of willow to signal to the crowd of the milestone moment.
It’s an expression of happiness for reaching a respectable score and acknowledgement for the applauding crowd.
For Elkins, he could’ve raised his whip when successful aboard Nicky Mattgregor at Redcliffe earlier this week (Wednesday).
The triumph was an important one; it was his 200th career victory.
And the parallels with harness racing and cricket for Elkins are similar.
A gifted and richly talented cricketer during his youth, he made the decision to give-away his burgeoning cricket career to concentrate solely on working with the horses.
Elkins was a familiar face in the junior cricket scene and represented Queensland at the under 15’s and 16’s – he was also captain of his state as a 16-year-old.
The talented batsman also represented Brisbane Metropolitan West and South East Queensland at all age groups.
Naturally, he dreamed big and hoped to represent the Queensland Bulls before donning the baggy green of the National team in time to come.
But he was equally affectionate with his passion of the horses.
And he made the choice to stick with his family and work with the standardbreds rather than sporting the cricket whites.
His father Greg has played an instrumental role in his development with cricket and working with the horses at their Calvert property.
“I love working with the horses and while I tried to do both, it just became a little too much and the horses were paying the bills more than the cricket expenses. Dad (Greg) has been a huge help and I enjoy working and spending quality time with him, yes we have disagreements but it’s all for the better.” Elkins said.
Just like with his cricket tuition, Elkins has worked hard on his craft as a reinsman.
And now the runs are coming.
Commencing his career during the 2012/13 season, Elkins went winless during his 13 drives that rookie term.
But the improvement has been obvious and constant with hauls of 16, 24, 43 and 54 in the subsequent seasons.
His haul this season currently sits at 63 and still counting.
Elkins competes at all tracks in south-east Queensland and regularly appears in the winner’s circle at Albion Park, Redcliffe and Marburg.
Quality performers like Purple Royale, Flaming Hero and Tenacious One have provided Elkins with his best thrills while his victory with Jacks At The Beach in the $15, 540 Aspirational Pace at Albion Park back in February was another highlight.
“I’ve been lucky enough to drive some nice horses so far during my career but if I was to stand one above others, it would have to be Purple Royale. A great little mare with awesome speed and a great will to win.
“I’m quite competitive and that probably reflects on the track but I think rivalries are healthy in many ways. I’m friends with Nathan Dawson but on the track we’re ultra-competitive and that even extends to the golf course, I think the best driver is Luke McCarthy.
“While dad has given me some great opportunities, it’s been great to drive for trainers like Vic Frost, Donny Smith and Trevor Lambourn amongst many others. All are really great trainers and different in so many ways.”
With so many of his former teammates forging great careers in cricket, Elkins is proud of achievements to date in harness racing and knows there is plenty more to come.
And Elkins is happy to see his younger brother Justin now competing on the track, the apprentice electrician has already booted home several winners and knocked off his big brother.
With 200 winners in the bank, Elkins is already looking for his next winner.
“I’m keen to get as many as I can, just like making runs with the bat, you can never have enough of them.
“Another goal is to land a feature race winner, which would be a great thing.”
Elkins is currently competing in the 2018 BOTRA Queensland Young Drivers Championship at Albion Park and Redcliffe.
Chris Barsby | RQ Web News | May 18