By Duane Ranger
Matthew Elkins has driven against some of Australia’s very best reinsmen and women.
He’s also played top level cricket against Aussie test players, Usman Khawaja, Joe Burns, Ryan Harris.
The 22-year-old, who played First Grade cricket in Brisbane at the age of 17, and was captain of the Queensland Under 16 side, still believes he made the right career decision, despite his scary good cricket talents.
“It’s still a bit 50-50. There’s some days when you are doing no good on the track you wish you were back scoring runs and taking wickets on the cricket field," he said.
“Then when you get a duck or have a bad day in the field, you wish you were with the horses. I couldn’t do both because I had to attend practises to make the top teams, and that’s when I’d lose drives.
“No, I’m still happy with the decision I’ve made. Harness racing pays the bills and you can never beat that winning feeling when you cross the line first."
He’s scored several centuries in his day including a ton in a T20 match off 40-odd balls. But he said all he is focused on in 2019 is adding to his career total of 311 winners.
“I love working with the horses and I enjoy the driving side of it the most. I haven’t won a Group One race yet but have run third twice, including last week behind Daltado in the $100,000 two-year-old race,” said Elkins, who has been employed by his father, Greg, at Calvert, since he left Rosewood State High School.
Elkins has four nice drives at Albion Park on Saturday night, and he rated all four winning chances.
Here’s what the talented young horseman had to say about the quartet (with trainer, draw and opening odds):
Race 3: The Donny Smith trained KETUT (8) $3
– “This is the perfect draw for this sit-and-sprint type guy. He gets his best chance to lead and one on the second line will suit his racing pattern. I’ve driven him quite a bit. The one horse (Outlaw Fella - $2.80) looks the hardest to beat. If I can sit in behind him and bide my time he can win. But in saying that Grant Dixon is a great judge of speed in front. Each-way.”
Race 5: The Donny Smith trained A GOOD CHANCE (2) $4
– “He’s low flying the last couple of months and he’s been going some big races in the ‘chair’. Hopefully we can cross them this time and lead up. If that’s the case then he will be hard to get past. It’s a competitive race but this horse loves the front and was beaten in 1: 51.8 when in death last time. The draw is the big bonus here. My best chance of the night.”
Race 7: The Chris Frisby trained APHORISM (5) $12
– “He did a lot of work when they went a 25 first quarter last time and ran second last start. He’s a bit of a hard horse to drive because he can fire up and if he does you have to just go with it. He does have a good one outside him (Lincolns Girl) so we will have options. If he fires up I’ll have to go and have a look at the top, but there is speed underneath me as well. I’ll just have to play it by ear. He can latch on to the bit and pull sometimes.”
Race 10: The Ron Wells trained CIRCLE LINE (10) $9
– “Eight-year-old gelding who lines up in a very winnable race. It’s never easy when coming off the back row, but I have the horse who can wait for one last run and get past them. He will need luck obviously, but if he gets it, he can be thereabouts.