CONFIDENCE – there’s nothing wrong with having a little, but too much just makes you cocky while delivering unrealistic expectations.
That’s a lesson veteran horseman Shane Hoban learned early in life.
While discussing the confidence he had ahead of his success with Easy Pickings last week and leading into the gelding’s pending assignment, Hoban couldn’t help but think of his late father, Frank.
A well-known trainer-driver during the Ascot Vale Showgrounds era, Frank was particularly fond of a punt, making him an expert of the appropriate time to be confident.
“It was very early on Dad said to my brother Gary and I ‘the problem with you two is you think you can win everytime you go around’…we learned pretty quickly after that comment,” Hoban said.
“Dad was a professional punter, that’s how he made his living, and sometimes what we ate for the night depending on how he went that day.
“Dad would send a couple of runners to the bookies to put a bet on and if they got the odds he wanted they’d give him the nod at the fence, if they weren’t on they’d shake their head and the horses would run accordingly.
“That’s how it was in those days!”
Scoring with ease in Kilmore with Ewa Justice in the cart, Easy Pickings faces a 20-metre handicap in Shepparton on Thursday night.
“He had been working terrifically and I knew he was ready to win,” Hoban said. “I told Ewa if you get to the front let him run along and that’s exactly what she did.
“Ewa is only young and learning as she goes, but I reckon she will be one of the best junior drivers in the state in another 12 months.
“Ewa can’t drive him on Thursday and I’ve got Jordan Chibnall, who is another talented young driver, on him and I reckon he will go very close again.”
Following his father into the sport – once his mother, Dorothy granted permission – Hoban comes from a long line of horsemEn, including his Uncle Danny, who was a leading driver at the Showgrounds.
Although he wasn’t involved in harness racing, Hoban’s grandfather, Patrick, broke in horses for the mounted Police Department.
Hoban’s brother Gary, who lost a valiant battle with cancer in May 2021, was a highly-successful trainer-driver.
“We lived in Northcote and Dad would drive to the horses in Preston then drive them over the road to Gower Park,” Hoban recalled.
“Mum made us go to school before she’d let us do anything with horses.
“I started working horses when I was probably 15. Dad was pretty strict and we weren’t allowed to do much, only clean the harness and boxes most of the time.
“To get a drive from Dad in those days was huge but it came with a lot of pressure if he thought it would win and the money was on.”
It was around the same time he started working at his father’s stable Hoban was reminded who was boss.
“I stood up to Dad one day, but I wasn’t standing for very long,” Hoban laughed. “When you’re that age you think you can take your old man, but I forgot he was Golden Gloves champion in his prime!”
Training at the Toolern Vale property he shared with Gary, Hoban explained there are moments he still feels his brother’s presence.
“It’s been 18 months and I still think Gary is there sometimes,” Hoban said. “Or something will happen and I want to tell him about it but can’t.
“Since Gary has been gone I have had to stand on own two feet, but I’ve had some great support and help from the likes of my wife, Melinda, Gary’s wife, Kym, Graeme ‘Guru’ Wilson, Adam Kelly, Bruce ‘Rocket Man’ Donaldson, Kevin Clarke and Brendan Hoban.
“It’s very important to have a strong support group and those are mine.”