JIM Grant will never be accused of winning out of turn.
But then again, for the happy-go-lucky Lockwood hobby trainer, winning isn't everything or even close to it.
"One (win) a decade is about my strike rate," he said with a hint of pride following Yankee Twister's maiden win at Bendigo's Lord's Raceway last Friday night.
"But that one was certainly worth the wait."
The win broke a more than four-year drought for Grant as a trainer since his last win with Yankee Twister's half-brother Lofty Success, at Maryborough, in February of 2017.
His most recent winner before that was Breakeven Point, who won a handicap at Donald in 1994.
Grant, who has called Bendigo home since 1973 and has enjoyed success as an owner and in syndicates over the years, achieved the first of four career wins as a trainer in 1985, at Wedderburn, with another trotter Ebony Rio.
There, of course, have been long gaps between having a horse to train, most notably between late 2011 and mid-2016 and 1995 and mid-2008.
But he has always been lured back to the training game and is currently having plenty of fun with Yankee Twister, the son of Yankee Spider and Telern Grace (Keystone Crosby), who took 26 starts to break his maiden, but had been placed 10 times previously and finished fourth on four other occasions.
Despite his modest success, Grant is steadfast that he has never contemplated giving training away.
"No, no, no ... not when you have a horse like him, who's always competitive," he said.
"They're hard to find, competitive horses, so I like to keep him going.
"I bred him, so I've had him from day one. I only have one (horse) at a time."
"He's always shown he's capable of something like that. For a trotter, he rarely does anything wrong."
Grant paid plenty of credit to Ron Wicks, who drove Yankee Twister to victory on Friday night, and whose Lockwood property he uses to train his trotter.
"Ron has done a wonderful job with him - he broke him in and he's driven him in every race bar one, so it's been a team effort," he said.
"Lisa Miles drove him for a second at Kilmore one day, but other than that, Ron has been there all the way.
"A good draw and the pace being on all race made all the difference."
Grant already has designs on improving his 'one a decade' win average and is adamant that in Yankee Twister, he has a trotter competitive and smart enough to do just that.
"I'll keep him going for another three or four years, as long as he remains competitive," he said.
"I like the trotters. I thought he might have broken through before now, but he's had some very bad draws of late - some sevens and some second-row draws - it's hard to win from back there.
"He got all the luck (on Friday night), he got a good draw and was driven perfectly by Ron."
Grant admitted his confidence of a breakthrough grew when a group of three horses comprising Gooroc Gambler, La Serena and Yankee Twister cleared out from the rest of the field in the back straight.
In the end, Yankee Twister was able to cruise past Gooroc Gambler in the straight to record an overdue and impressive win.
He's always shown he's capable of something like that. For a trotter, he rarely does anything wrong.- Jim Grant
To harness racing participants like Wicks and the dozens who swamped Yankee Twister's trainer on the terrace and in the stalls at Lord's Raceway to congratulate him following the win, people like Grant are the 'lifeblood' of harness racing.
"He's just that passionate about the game - he's happy to just have a horse that is competitive," Wicks said.
"People like Jim keep the trotting game going. We need more people like him.
"One thing about him is he doesn't like to travel that far, which is why he's always at Bendigo and Maryborough.
"I said to him there was a race recently at Ballarat he could have won - a $10,000 race - but he said 'I'm not going to Ballarat, I've got footy training on Thursday nights'.
"I think we all know he just didn't want to travel."
IN a twist of irony, the horse Yankee Twister flashed past in the straight, Gooroc Gambler was once trained by Wicks, but is now stabled with Trevor Monk at Junortoun.
"(Yankee Twister) is a horse, who is going to get better with a few more seasons - I'm sure he'll keep on improving," he said.
"He was always a bit gangly and early on he couldn't do much, but as he's gotten older it's started to come a bit more naturally.
"Jim comes out here every day and does most of the work himself. I just do a bit of the fast work for him.
"It's a credit what he's been able to do with the horse."
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