YOUNG Cessnock reinsman Blake Hughes brought up his 100th career win in the gig last Thursday at Tamworth.
Amazingly, Hughes is still short of his 18th birthday and is in just his second season of driving.
So, to achieve the amazing milestone so early in his career, when he scored a win with Yosemite, is certainly something special.
Alongside his “boss” Clayton Harmey, Blake is experiencing a stellar season as he currently sits on 89 wins and sits in fifth spot on the New South Wales Drivers’ Premiership table.
And his effort to be where he is at is even more amazing given that he had no previous background in harness racing.
Hughes grew up in the Hunter region and caught the harness racing bug simply by following the sport as a spectator.
He left school 18 months ago and decided to pursue a career as a reinsman.
Under the watchful eye of Clayton Harmey, who is full of praise for the youngster, Hughes just kept making the most of his opportunities and his confidence and ability has continued to blossom.
Harmey explained that Blake had a great work ethic and was adamant that without his help, the in-form trainer would have struggled to achieve the success he had also enjoyed this year.
“Blake is a great kid and I am proud of him racking up 100 wins so early in his career,” said Harmey.
“He is now on target for getting 100 for the season and I have no doubt he can do that.”
Today at Newcastle Hughes begins his pursuit of those last 11 winners to bring up a century for the season and has four strong chances that are all trained by Harmey.
The best of his drives appears to be Kanye Crusader in the final event on the program.
Coming off a last-start third, the unhoppled pacer has drawn on the inside of the second row in gate nine and will need some luck in the run although Hughes is confident that if he gets clear running he will be hard to beat.
“Kanye has been so good to us this season,” said Hughes.
“He won a group one and has become very consistent.
“I think taking the hopples off him was the key as he hasn’t missed a beat since then.”
Former Kiwi pacer Huey Lewis is another that Hughes rates highly and he’ll go around in Race 7.
He, too, needs to contend with gate nine, but has drawn behind a speedy beginner.
– MICHAEL DUMESNY