Bruce Hadley finally added a driving win to his rather unconventional harness racing career when successful on the grass at Te Aroha on Saturday.
He led all the way on Mrs Zippy, a horse he had paired with in amateur drivers’ races six times previously, including for a second at Cambridge late last month.
It took him a decade to record that elusive first win in the cart, but that’s slightly misleading given he lived overseas for a vast majority of it, and only had five drives in that time on sporadic trips home.
“I lived in Hong Kong for seven years for work and I’ve only been back a year.
“All credit to Adrienne (Matthews) for giving me the opportunity to drive the horse; she’s been a terrific supporter of not just me, but many amateurs.
“In fact, she’s given quite a few of us our first winners.”
Hadley actually drove in the first ever tote race for amateurs, at Alexandra Park back in May 2009, finishing seventh behind Mymumdidnotwantme.
“It was a really steep learning curve.
“We went from having five or six-horse trials to 14-horse races.”
Four drivers from that inaugural race – the others being Steve Phillips, Ival Brownlee Snr and Danny Blakemore – were in action today, but the other three have all recorded wins in the interim.
Hadley has now joined the somewhat exclusive club and joked that he was ready to go professional.
“The world’s my oyster now; watch me go.
“I’ll be racking up the toll calls chasing drives now.”
Most probably won’t remember, but Hadley already has seven training wins on his card, the first way back in 1991.
“I’ve actually got a better UDR as a trainer.
“Charlie Hadley was my uncle and back when I was 13 or 14 he was training a few horses in Waiuku.
“I used to help him out and then started training a few of my own.
“Bernie Hackett was out there too and he picked me up off the track a fair few times, as he often reminds me.”
Hadley has had five stints as a trainer, the most recent last year, and produced his last winner, Atom Zona, at Taranaki back in 2002.
The first half of the Te Aroha grass track meeting – the first at the track in four years – was dominated by Central Districts visitors.
Leesa Castleton won the maiden trot for Stephen Doody, Uncle Drew snuck up the markers to win a maiden pace for Wendy Devenport, and Fred Mitchell recorded a stable with maiden pacer Geoff’s Legacy and 209-start veteran, Jack Bates.