DAVID Van Ryn's decision to give harness racing training another crack has paid a quick dividend following a win on debut for his two-year-old Uptown Lad at Maryborough on Good Friday.
The trotting gelding won the first of two two-year-old features run on the day, both worth $20,000.
Uptown Lad, ($5.50), by the Swedish stallion Sebastian out of the mare Downtown Miss, vindicated the good opinion of his trainer by working to the line strongly to score by half a head over the $2.40 favourite Cognati (Jess Tubbs/Greg Sugars) with Aethon (Rita Burnett) more than nine-metres away in third.
Van Ryn, who is based at Marong, had spent much of 2020 and '21 away from harness racing, working as a bricklayer, but made the decision to return late last year.
Te Amo at Bendigo on February 22 was his first runner since May last year.
Before that, he had not had a starter at the races since November 2019.
The win carried a little extra significance as Uptown Lad was bred and is owned by Van Ryn, his wife Kristy and long-time owner Helen Friend.
"Helen has pretty much been with us the whole way along," David said.
"I basically went back bricklaying and gave it away and only made the decision to come back to training about Christmas time.
"It's good money (bricklaying), but the body just kept breaking down, so I thought I'd give the horses another crack and see how we go.
"The horse goes well."
Despite finishing fifth at his only trial at Shepparton the week before, Van Ryn headed to Maryborough with a good degree of confidence in his juvenile.
"His track work is really good, I've told a few people he could be as good as anything I have ever had," he said.
"It's only early, so time will tell.
"He does get a bit wound up.
"I took him to the runarounds and he did really good, so then I took him to Shepp on the Thursday night and went really good, so I thought I'd throw him into the race and see how he goes.
"It all worked out. He has enough ability, it's just a matter of whether he is going to stay sensible.
"The funny thing is he gets quite revved up here (at Marong), but every time he's been away from home he's been perfect. Hopefully, he will continue on with that.
"It was a good win - saying that, I've never had a bad one."
Van Ryn praised a top drive from in-form reinsman Leigh Sutton, who shifted Uptown Lad from three back on the pegs at the 500m, to eventually be three-wide in the run to the post.
While it was only his second drive for Van Ryn this time around, the pair has a long association stretching back to their earliest days in racing.
"I think he drove my first ever training winner, but when my nephew (Haydon Gray) started driving, he sort of took over," Van Ryan said.
"But Leigh's always driven a couple for me now and then.
"Hopefully he will stick with us. He's a great driver, he just needs the opportunities like everyone does."
Friday's win has forced a pleasing rethink in plans for Uptown Lad.
"I was going to head towards the Home Grown (series), but because we've won over $10,000 we can't do that now," Van Ryn said.
It was a good win - saying that, I've never had a bad one.- David Van Ryn
"We'll just look after him and just pick races left, right and centre and whichever suits we'll go that way."
Van Ryn, who has five horses in work, praised the concept of Good Friday racing, with funds being raised on the day for the Royal Children's Hospital Appeal.
"There was a good crowd there and everyone looked to be enjoying it," he said.
"It's probably something that can grow and get bigger every year."
The Good Friday meeting will be rotated through Victoria each year and will next year be hosted at Stawell.
Van Ryn will next venture to the races on Wednesday night at Lord's Raceway with Te Amo and Simulant.
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