THERE was more than the usual amount of joy for Raglan hobby trainer Kelvin Davies following the win of Summerhill at Tabcorp Park Melton on Tuesday night.
The 69-year-old, who has held his training licence since he was about 18, was over the moon to see his four-year-old trotter-turned-pacer break through for his first win at his seventh career start.
Davies was equally thrilled to have Bendigo's Rod Lakey aboard for the winning drive.
The pair only met in early 2020, when Summerhill was taking his first steps towards his conversion from trotting gelding to pacer and Lakey was in the throes of regaining his driving licence following a 14-year hiatus from the sport.
The 45-year-old has since been in the sulky for six of rejuvenated horse's seven-career starts, including his past two, for a second at Ballarat in early January and Tuesday night's win.
Davies was quick to credit Lakey as a major factor in Summerhill's continued improvement.
"He's a good little driver and a great fellow. I remember him driving years ago, but he never drove any for me," he said.
"He only took up driving again around the time I was taking Summerhill to the trials.
"He drove him around a few times after the trials, so I've been happy to have him on all the way through, except for the first race when Ryan Duffy drove him while Rod was suspended.
"He's having a ball back driving; he's really enjoying it.
"(Summerhill) works on his own most of the time and has basically learned his craft at the trial and races.
"Rod has educated him very well. He's been on him from when we first took him over to the trials."
Davies, who co-owns Summerhill with his wife Margaret, has learned to be extremely patient after the gelding showed little to no inclination of making it as a trotter earlier in his career.
"There's been no pacing bred in that breed since the 1950s. He's by a European trotter called Peak and there's no prior pacing bred in him whatsoever, and he's out of Summerline, which is by Sundon, who won 11 trotting races," he said.
"So it's been 70 years. It's pretty incredible.
"When he wasn't any good at trotting, or showed no inclination to trot, I thought it might be the end of him.
"He's had a reprieve.
"I tried for months to get him trotting, but he wanted to pace.
"There'll be no turning back now. He's getting better with each run. Without getting too carried away, he's a nice, little honest horse."
After knocking over his maiden, Davies said it was back to the drawing board to find a suitable race for the four-year-old.
"I had a few planned out, but they were either maidens, or for horses who haven't won any more than $3000 in their last four starts. No doubt he'll have to go somewhere where it's a bit harder for a while," he said.
"I'll just play it by ear, but the great thing is he is getting more educated.
"When he ran second at Ballarat the other night he had a gallop not long after the start and he had to go back to the trials.
"In his half-a-dozen (previous) starts there were a few misdemeanors through greenness, but he's starting to know what it's all about.
"Hopefully those issues should be behind him. I think he will be just a good little bread and butter horse for me."
Meanwhile, Lakey will have a pair of drives for Irymple South trainer Allan MacDonald at Mildura on Wednesday night and one for Marong trainer Shaun McNaulty at Lord's Raceway on Thursday night.
Bendigo region driver wins during January: Tayla French (4), Glenn Douglas (4); Shannon O'Sullivan (3), Ellen Tormey (3); Neil McCallum (2), Ashley Manton (2); Denbeigh Wade (1), Scott Rains (1), Rod Lakey (1), Jack Sullivan (1).
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