Gray wins after ten years away
By Jonny Turner
Canterbury reinsman Joseph Gray returned to the winner’s circle for the first time in over a decade when driving Dreamy Damien to victory at Addington on Friday.
Gray was having just his fifth drive of the season, and first behind the Andrew Garters trained Dreamy Damien, when guiding the horse to a rating 40-49 victory.
A race smash at the same track over a decade ago saw Gray give race driving away until recently.
Though his name has not been up in lights, the horseman has still been heavily involved in the industry.
“I have been working for the Garters the whole time, it is coming up about 17 years in total and 12 years straight,” he said.
“I gave up driving after I had a bad accident at Addington one night.”
“The horse I was driving got brought down and one went over top of me.”
“So, I chucked it in for about seven or eight years.”
Some encouragement from Garters and a successful recent workout led to Gray teaming up with Dreamy Damian for the first time at the races on Friday.
“Andrew has been trying to get me to drive him at the trials and I drove at Ashburton and he won easily.”
“So, he said to me you are going to have to drive him at the races.”
Gray showed plenty of talent as a junior driver, racking up 24 wins between 2003 and 2008.
His last victory came behind the Garters trained Dontgobreakinmyheart at Reefton in 2008.
“I had a decent opportunity as a junior driver, plenty of people gave me drives and I drove some really nice horses.”
The support of the Garters family means Gray could add more wins to his first victory as an open driver with Dreamy Damien, before the season is over.
One of the horses Gray is looking forward to driving is Raining In My Heart, who is from a full sister to Dontgobreakinmyheart.
“Andrew, Bob and Maxine have been really good and wanted me back driving the team again.”
“So, I suppose I am going to have to start driving some more.”
“There is a trotter there, Raining In My Heart, he is really crook at the moment.”
“But, he should win a few races once he is back.”
Gray also holds his trainers licence and has lined up a small number of starters in the previous two racing seasons.
He will be on the lookout for his first winner as a trainer soon.