Scott Iremonger is all smiles after his first career driving success, at Cambridge. Photo: Trish Dunell
They say the best wins are the ones you least expect, so it’s fair to say Scott Iremonger really enjoyed the first victory of his driving career at Cambridge on Sunday.
Iremonger was victorious on his father Dave’s horse, Atom Hanover, which was the rank outsider in a lowly Rating 40-51 field, paying $48.50 on the tote.
It was a heady drive from the Morrinsville-based rookie, who relaxed the noted front-runner in an unfamiliar trailing position before scooting up the passing lane to win.
“The plan was to lead, actually. Dad told me to do so if I could because we knew he had the gate speed,” said Scott.
“But when I saw Idealistic coming across, knowing how James Stormont drives, and if he wants the lead he holds it, I decided to take the trail.”
It proved to be a sage assessment of proceedings because Stormont kept hot favourite Rock N Shard (Scott Phelan) out parked and it took the sting out of her in the run to the line.
To wear his dad’s colours for his first win was something Iremonger was especially proud of.
“That definitely made it even better, that it was my dad’s horse.”
Iremonger wasn’t destined to be in the harness game, but a Christmas gift from his father a few years ago got the 19-year-old interested.
“Originally, growing up, Dad always had a horse or two but I was never really interested.
“I had a drive on one when he was training them in a paddock at Te Puna (near Tauranga) but it never really got me going.
“Then, two-and-a-half years ago, he gave me and my other siblings a 10 percent share each in a horse for Christmas.”
That horse was Waipipi Falcon and while he failed to win a race for the wider Iremonger clan before being consigned to Tahiti, he achieved the job Dave Iremonger had hoped.
“Once I started following that horse a bit, I got more interested and eventually started helping dad out at the stables.”
After plenty of trials and workouts drives, a race night driving career started in May this year.
It’s fair to say he hadn’t exactly been getting on favourites in his first 12 drives, so a win until now was never really expected.
So, to break his duck this early on is a big boost for the confidence of the well-spoken junior driver.
And it’s definitely made him hungrier for more.
“At the moment I am just enjoying every drive I can get. I understand not many trainers will want me on their horses due to my lack of experience.
“So, I’m grateful that Dad has got the numbers to be able support me and get that experience.”
He has set himself a goal, one that seems very achievable in the next couple of seasons.
“Long term I want to be dad’s top stable driver for his career.
“Looking back at the moment I think it’s Colin Butler with nine, so the target is to drive 10 winners for dad.
“Beyond that, I definitely want to get in to training in the future and perhaps even take over dad’s colours.
“There are so many good drivers out there, it will be pretty hard to crack that.”
Ironically, Butler is often on hand to give Iremonger advise at the Cambridge track.
“I commute from Morrinsville to Cambridge every morning and work for Mike Berger.
“Colin has been helping us quite a bit lately and it’s been good to learn off him, as well as Mike.”
Earlier on the card, Credit Master recorded another win for husband-and-wife team Andrew and Lyn Neal.
It was his fifth win of the season, all five coming at his local track, and it was enough to earn him the title of Dunstan Horse of the Year.
It earned the Neals a $4,000 bonus as his owners, plus a $3,000 Dunstan Foods prize as his trainer.
Sailesh Abernethy recorded the 200th win of his career when leading all the way behind Caroline Wozniacki.
Dave Iremonger meets son Scott and Atom Hanover after their unlikely victory. Photo: Trish Dunell