First training win for Halliday
By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk
Journeyman horseman Dean Halliday has spent more than three decades in harness racing, but it’s a maiden race at Methven that has proven to be one of the highlights of his career.
That race was the Ryal Bush Transport Ashburton Pace (1700m) on Friday, with its victor Arizonawildcat securing Halliday’s first win as a trainer.
Halliday previously trained for two seasons in the late nineties, before a stint in the United States, and he said chalking up that first win was a big thrill.
“It was a relief, that’s for sure,” he said.
Halliday was first lured to harness racing upon leaving school and spent the better part of two decades working for a number of trainers in Australasia.
“When I left Lincoln High School I went up north and lived with my Mum and her partner was Dan Corrigan, he was a good trainer, and he got me into helping him break horses in,” Halliday said.
“My very first job was the track man at Pukekohe at the Franklin Trotting Club. I used to drive the mobile and get the track ready for trials.
“I then worked for Vinny Knight for seven years. It was good working for Vinny, he was my best mate.”
Halliday returned to Auckland to work part-time in stables before eventually heading to America to taste a different style of racing.
“I worked for an air conditioning company in Auckland and in the afternoons I worked horses for Peter Blanchard, Derek Balle, and Peter Wolfenden.
“I then went to America for five years working as the second trainer for Junior Wilkinson in California. It was awesome.
“Peter Blanchard got me over to America. He got me in contact with Junior Wilkinson, he buys a few horses off Peter.”
Upon Halligan’s return to New Zealand in 2005, he had a five year hiatus from the sport before being drawn back as an amateur driver.
“I have been working in factories since I came back to New Zealand,” Halligan said. “I couldn’t afford to train myself as I didn’t have a property, so I decided to give it up for a while.
“Then in 2010 I got my amateur driver’s licence. I won a heat and the final in the South Island versus North Island amateur drivers championships at Riccarton on the grass.”
While he has enjoyed his time in the amateur ranks Halliday said it was great to be back training, a pursuit he said would not have been possible without the support of Grant McStay, Arizonawildcat’s owner and former trainer.
“Mr McStay got me back into training,” Halliday said. “I was having a few beers at his place and he said he had a horse that we could work together, so I have been helping him work that horse (Arizonawildcat).”
Halliday was issued his licence just days prior to Friday’s result, and he said he was over the moon to get the victory in such a short space of time.
“I got my licence on Tuesday, so it was great to get the win so soon.”