By Duane Ranger.
Just 27 days after turning 17, Angus Garrard, has become one of the youngest drivers in Australia to rack up a century of wins in his first full season of driving.
The equally gifted St Paul’s Year 12 student drove three of the 10 winners at Redcliffe Paceway today (Thursday), and in doing so went from 98 wins this season to 101.
That was a phenomenal effort considering the former Mini Pony Trot champion has only been driving for less than 13 months, and did it in just over 700 drives in 2019-2020.
“It’s just unbelievable, honestly. I can’t thank everyone who has supported me, enough. All of the owners and trainers who have given me opportunities to drive their horse, plus everyone who has given me advice and helped me out.
“And of course, Mum and Dad. There’s just so many people I have to thank, and I couldn’t have achieved any of it without them and I’m so grateful,” Garrard said.
“The 100 was my season target and I feel great that I’ve achieved it in such quick time. It’s all a bit hard to take in really. This is all I’ve ever wanted to do,” the talented teenager said.
Garrard’s hat-trick of wins came via the Darren Weeks trained Dapper Bessie in race seven ($1.40 favourite); the Donny Smith trained Arbit Major in race nine ($3.20 second favourite); and the Weeks trained Tuapeka Light in race 10 ($1.40 favourite).
Coincidentally the trio all wore saddle cloth number three.
But it was the locally trained, Arbit Major, that provided Garrard with his “raise the bat” moment. His half-neck triumph ensured a century of wins in just 314 days.
“I’ve driven some nice horses this season and those good horses have my job a whole lot easier,” Garrard said.
So, what does Garrard have to say about storming onto the Queensland harness racing scene this season.
“I’ve always wanted to be a driver for as long as I can remember, but I Saturday nights are the nights I remembered the most when I was growing up.
“I was a young spectator (trackside) and used to think, gee it would be great to drive under the lights on Albion Park’s biggest night. Now it’s arrived, Saturday night – metropolitan races – yes! The dream is almost a reality. I’m rapt I can now drive any day of the week,” Garrard said.
“I couldn’t have scripted it any better. It’s been a dream start to my first full season of driving. I would never have thought I would have 83 wins on the week I turned 17.
“I can’t thank my family and all the owners and trainers enough,” Garrard said.
He said if he continued to get support from stables outside his family, then the highly respected academic might be tempted to cast the books aside – for now.
“I’m still not too sure about future study. I probably would have got straight into it from school but I never ever thought I’d do this well. The generosity from other horsemen and women have almost made the decision for me – for now,” he said.
Garrard, who still has to be driven to and from the racetrack by his parents Daren and Gayle, also drove a hat-trick of winners at his first Saturday night meeting on June 20 – four days after turning 17.
His father Daren, said his son was very laid back and not much fazed him.
“He’s always been as cool as a cucumber, and not one to panic. I think Angus, being a very calm and cool character, helped him in that race. He never panicked and let the horse wind up naturally, when he still had plenty to do. Gayle and I were very proud of him last night, but he didn’t say much.
“He quite a humble kid. He seemed to take it in his stride. He has exceeded everyone’s expectations. Even though he is very disciplined and talented, he never stops surprising us,” Garrard senior said.
When interviewing Garrard (Daren) his son was studying and fulfilling his Year 12 requirements before heading off to the Redcliffe trots on Sunday night, where he had five races.
“He’s an A-grade student, and his school and principal have been very understanding. Angus’s future is in his own hands. If he wants to carry on with this career he can. If he wants to further his studies he can.
“Gayle and I never pressure him into anything. All we know is that he’s very disciplined. He’s up every morning at 5am working horses before he goes off to school.
“Then after school he either works the horses again, or his mother picks him up and takes him to the trots. He’s on top of his school work which pleases us. He’s also the scrum-half for the First XV and is an all-rounder for the First XI cricket team,” Garrard said.
“He’s an only child and we are so very proud of him,” he added.
Last year Garrard drove 10 winners from June 16 to August 31.