Gray dealt winning hand

11 March 2018

ARMIDALE PREVIEW | MICHAEL DUMESNY

AFTER spending 10 years in the harness racing wilderness Moonbi mentor Wayne Gray never thought he would see himself back in the game training pacers.

Gray met with great success back in the 1970’s with top juvenile pacer Rowan Garry who defeated the champion Rip Van Winkle in the 1973 2yo Country Championships at Harold Park.
But after bumping into a former client and old friend at a Miracle Mile meeting, Gray found himself being tempted back into a sport that he had never stopped loving.

That friend and former client is Dubbo man Greg O’Sullivan who persisted with Wayne to take on a filly that he had purchased to race.

It was a tough task for O’Sullivan to lure Gray back into the game but his persistence won over in the end.

“Greg was very persistent on me training and driving again and it took him 12 months to convince me,” Gray said.

But once his decision was made [to get back into the sport] Gray’s enthusiasm grew with him taking on training the filly, a daughter of Aces N Sevens by the name of Aces Reign.

“She done a top job for us, winning 11 races and was an ultra-consistent mare,” Gray said.

Aces Reign took Wayne and Greg on a great ride winning at many centres throughout New South Wales including Dubbo, Newcastle, Bathurst and Tamworth.

Towards the end of her career the mare found her way into the Bernie Hewitt stable as Wayne found he needed to travel too longer distances to compete in suitable races.

Now four years on, Gray and O’Sullivan are again riding the crest of a wave, this time with the progeny of their bonny mare, a gelding named Shadow Dealer.

The promising three year old by Shadow Play will be contesting one of the feature events at this afternoon’s Armidale meeting when he lines up in the Ducats Earthmoving Armidale Golden Horseshoe (1980m).

Gray admits his youngster will face a tough assignment today against some inform three-year-olds but believes that his horse is getting better with race experience and is starting to hit his straps to become a serious racehorse.

Shadow Dealer is coming off a brilliant last start victory at Inverell last weekend and should not be taken lightly by the opposition, as from gate 8, Gray should be able to track through into a prominent position.

If the horse is able to pick up the major spoils today, it will be a shot in the arm for owner O’Sullivan who has been battling ill health over the past year.

It would also be the first feature win for the combination since they reunited, a partnership which goes back 35 years.