FOR someone still making his way in the training caper, Paying Your Way is the gift that keeps on giving for Darryl Peace.
The eight-year-old gelding has provided his Longlea trainer with all three of his career wins to date, with each of them coming within the last four weeks.
Paying Your Way, by Live Or Die out of Heavenly Pocket, has quietly established himself as one of the Central region's most consistent performers since the move to the revised racing model in early April.
The Peace-trained gelding has won three of five starts under regional racing and has finished second twice.
He has proven the quintessential gift horse for a trainer, who only obtained his licence back in November.
"I've pretty much had him all along, even though he only went into my name as the trainer in November," Peace explained.
"I've been associated with the horse since he was yearling basically.
"He was originally trained by Rob O'Connell, but then he came to me as I had gone out on my own.
"I had actually got him ready for the yearling sales, but he never got a bid on him, or got sold.
"When the owner didn't want to be involved with him anymore, four or five months ago, he basically gave him to me."
What started as 'a freebie' has earned Peace and co-owner Godfrey Pianta more than $16,000 in his last five starts.
Peace said Paying Your Way, who has now won nine of 48 career starts with 16 placings, had always had plenty of ability
"He ran in a Breeders Crown final and went really well, but he has always had injuries since day one," he said.
"He won as a two-year-old and all the way through, but he's always been unsound and has always had bad legs ... he would have one race start and then break down," he said.
"This time in, I have been treating his legs and really looking after him and have been able to get a lot more runs closer together under his belt.
"It's definitely the fittest he has ever been. Five starts in about a month and a half tells the tale really.
"If I race him every week then I don't have to work him as much on our home track. That's protecting his legs and his joints."
Paying Your Way has been driven in his last three starts (for two wins and a second) by young Heathcote reinswoman Shannon O'Sullivan, for whom Peace predicts a bright future.
"She is going to be a really good driver, she really knows how to rate a horse," he said.
"And because she's really light they run for her and she has really good hands,
"She will be a force to be reckoned with within the industry."
The son of former multiple premiership-winning trainer Ron Peace, and a brother to top former reinsmen Andrew and Harry Peace, Darryl has taken the long route to training.
"I mainly preferred to focus on the cattle on the farm - and I pretty much like the breeding side of things," he said.
"I ended up deciding to get my trainer's licence just to have a go and here I am.
"I've got six horses at the moment, pretty much young ones. I have room for others.
"Lounge Art will be racing this Thursday and I have what I think is a really good horse called Be Who You Are. He's had a few leg issues but he's probably the best I've had."
Peace is grateful for the support of harness racing legend Brian Gath and son Matthew since his foray into training, especially for the use of their stables.
It's been a vintage performance by Brian Gath since the introduction of regional racing, with the champion reinsman collecting seven winners to add to the more than 4500-lifetime winners.
His latest came aboard the John Davidson-trained Mulberry Pie last Thursday.
"Matthew actually drove my first winner, which was Paying Your Way (on April 23) and it's great to see Brian, one of our best ever drivers, doing so well," Peace said.
"You can't beat experience. Brian's up going at 6am and he's still going at 6pm and works all day every day.
"Both Brian and Matthew have helped me out so much."
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