Shane Walkinshaw after a driving win earlier this year. Photo: Wild Range Photography.
The past couple of years haven't been easy for Group 1-winning driver Shane Walkinshaw, so a win on Glens Of Tekoa in the third at Ascot Park on Saturday would be well-received.
Walkinshaw and his partner Shana McClelland race the three-year-old son of Sir Lincoln and he is the first runner Walkinshaw has trained for nearly 18 months.
The background to that was Not Bad returning a positive to cobalt when winning at Invercargill in October 2015.
Aware he hadn't knowingly administered anything illegal, the Invercargill-based horseman set out to prove his innocence.
After various product tests, the high level was found to be a manufacturing fault.
“The cobalt incident put me off for a bit,” Walkinshaw said.
“Also, I haven't got time to train a team now; I can only manage one or two.”
That is also because of an incident at Ascot Park, this time a fall from Jennys Rose in a race there on 24 November last year.
Walkinshaw suffered fractures to the back of his skull, eye socket, cheek bone and sinus area.
“I have no ill effects now, I did have some dizziness but no headaches,” he reports.
However, Walkinshaw was working at the time for Wayne Adams, who subsequently downsized his operation.
“I've been out of stables since the crash; I got a job with OnGas delivering gas bottles.
“But with most of the meetings down here on weekends, I've still been able to drive at most of them.”
And although his time away from the track has had some impact on his number of drives and wins, they continue to flow.
Four on Mighty Conqueror in the past two months mean another milestone is just six wins away.
They took Walkinshaw's career tally of 294, including of course Whatsundermykilt's 2006 Dominion.
“I don't think there are enough days this season to reach 300, it might have to wait until next season.”
But based on Glens Of Tekoa's second to Motu Top Mach on debut at Ascot Park a fortnight ago, the first of those six could be knocked off this weekend.
“We leased him from Mike Stratford as a two-year-old just broken in.
“He won a workout last month and was second in a trial (beaten a nose by Monday's winner Born To Boogie) when I didn't drive him out, so I was expecting a nice race,” Walkinshaw said.
“He's come on good since then and has definitely improved.”