It's been a year of redemption for Kyle Marshall, mostly thanks to his promising mare Tyler Maguire.
The Cambridge born-and-raised junior driver has had a breakout term in the sulky this season - just his second year driving - and as a result, he will next month contest the New Zealand Junior Drivers' Championship at Addington.
Marshall, 18, is indentured to Michelle Wallis in Waiuku and has won five races this season, two with Tyler Maguire.
The daughter of Elsu is trained by Wallis, though Marshall does most of the work with her as she is leased by his immediate family, which includes father, Cambridge trainer David Marshall.
"My family love her. This is the first horse they have owned together and now they are talking about getting more,'' Marshall said.
Marshall arranged to lease the mare from Cambridge breeders Ray and Diane Kennedy after former trainer Les White opted not to persevere with her.
The move to Wallis' barn has been a good one, with over $10,000 earned from two wins and five placings.
"Being able to swim her up here and get the chiropracter to her has seen her become a much happier horse,'' Marshall said.
"She doesn't do much between races, just swim, and that keeps her fit.''
Tyler Maguire races at Alexandra Park tonight, though Marshall won't be her driver.
That's because the meeting has premier status and under the rules only drivers with 15 wins to their credit are eligible to compete.
Wallis has replaced Marshall with champion driver Tony Herlihy.
"I thought I would be driving her but I am not allowed. Luckily Tony didn't have a drive,'' Marshall said.
"She's a really good chance this week. She's got a bit of gate speed to go forward and get handy. We are lucky in that Freepsin has drawn the second line too.''
Marshall, who worked for Mike Berger at Cambridge before transferring to Wallis, said he enjoyed the quiet life in Waiuku, where he ``doesn't know too many people'' and could ``stay on the straight and narrow''.
His season did not get off to an ideal start when he was suspended for two months after he tested positive to cannabis at Cambridge in August.
But that is behind him now and with the guidance of Wallis and her husband Bernie Hackett and the deeds of Tyler Maguire, Marshall is starting to make a name for himself.
"I have the juniors drivers champs coming up and I am sitting second in that with only three races left to qualify.
"The top six from each Island go through so that is exciting and something to look forward too.''
Tonight's highlights at Alexandra Park are the $20,000 Winter Cup, in which Auckland Cup winner Sir Lincoln will start a short-priced favourite, and the $32,000 Yearling Sales Series Northern Hemisphere Time Final, where six late-born two-year-olds will fight it out.
Consistent Cambridge mare Killarney Miss is a scratching from the Winter Cup following her sale to Perth interests.
- © Fairfax NZ News