HEATHCOTE'S Tayla French has consolidated an impressive ending to the 2019-20 harness racing season with a bright beginning to the new year.
The talented young reinswoman has started the 2021 season with four winners through the first 14 days of January, placing her among the state's top 10 drivers.
That number could easier have been higher, with French notching up no fewer than seven second placings and a pair of thirds.
The 23-year-old will have a chance to add to that tally with three drives at Kilmore on Thursday night, including one aboard the John McDermott-trained last start winner Ourbeachsomewhere, and a further four at Maryborough on Friday afternoon.
Pivotal to French's total of four winners this season was her first-ever treble, achieved at Cranbourne on January 7.
It was the latest pleasing milestone for one of the sport's undoubted rising stars, coming on top of a few other breakthrough moments last season, including her 50th career win and first metropolitan success.
French now finds herself on 74 career wins (three metropolitan), following on from four apiece in October and December last year and a five in November.
An extra source of satisfaction for French was two of her winning treble coming aboard horses trained by her father Terry in Hard Rock Shannon and Joey's Hangover. The third came via the McDermott-trained gelding Ourbeachsomewhere.
"It was pretty huge. It's a good feeling too, but it was really unexpected," she said.
"All of them were out the money and in double figures.
"Our two (horses) had been going well and they were both down in class, but I've never just expect to win.
"I wouldn't say both had ideal draws, but we managed to lob in good positions and go on with it."
Dual wins with Hard Rock Shannon and Joey's Hangover gave French family bragging rights over her father, who did not make the trip to Cranbourne.
"Dad had an appointment booked on that day, so he sent me down on my own," she explained.
"And they're not the two easiest horses to handle.
"I got a bit of help down there, but it always makes me happy when I get the bragging rights when dad doesn't come.
"I try to tell him to stay away," she added with a laugh.
French was quick to open her 2020 account by steering home the Keith Cotchin-trained Brackenreid on New Year's Day at Echuca in her first drive behind the six-year-old gelding.
Her continued good form has laid the groundwork for another exciting season for French, who is etching closer and closer to the 100-win milestone and having her concession claim reduced.
"I'm happy to continue to plod along, I don't ask for any drives - I'm just happy to take the drives when the trainers want to put me on," French said.
"Ideally, I'd like to keep the winners ticking over at a pretty frequent rate. It's a good feeling.
"My treble the other day was huge. Receiving all the messages I did - my phone was just going off for three or four days.
"People I didn't even know were messaging me - I didn't realise the amount of people who actually watched the races."
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