TOM ISON may be seen as the ‘boy from the bush’ but that view will soon change after the young reinsman made an impact at Tabcorp Menangle on Saturday night.
The recently-turned 21-year-old drove his first metro winner at the meeting before backing that up with a first metro driving double which also happened to be his first Group Thre win in a night he’ll long remember.
“There was plenty of excitement after the wins,” said Ison, who works for the Roy Roots junior stable at Keinbah near Cessnock.
Ison, left his home base of Tamworth 18 months ago to work with Roots and has driven plenty of winners for the stables along the way . . . but the success on Saturday night he assured us would take a few days to sink in.
“I have only had a handful of drives at Menangle,” added Ison.
With two drives on the 11-race program, Ison landed his first Menangle winner behind Pitch Perfect, which hit the right note in taking out the Garrard’s Horse and Hound Pace (Heat 2).
“I think he is one of the best horses we got in the stable,” said Ison after the win of the Bettors Delight-Karen Donna four-year-old gelding.
“He went well . . . [I’m] really happy with him.
“I always wanted to win a race at Menangle and I am pleased it was with Pitch Perfect.”
Ison had Pitch Perfect perfectly-placed in the one by one over the 1609 metres as Franco Landry (Anthony Butt) led the field with Cocosfella (Lauren Tritton) racing in the breeze.
“We got a lot of luck early in the race landing in the one-one,” Ison said.
“I was confident from there and I thought he would be too quick for them.”
Pitch Perfect went on to score a 1.2m win over Franco Landry with Cocosfella a half head away third in 1.51.6.
“There was a lot of excitement after I drove my first Metro winner but Junior (Roy Roots) told me ‘you can worry about that later – you’ve still got one to go’,” Ison said.
The young reinsman then went out and bagged his first driving double at headquarters and his first Group 3 win behind Roots’ other big hope, The Black Prince, taking out the Club Menangle Vic Frost Cup.
“He went super – he did everything he had to do and got the job done really well,” Ison said.
“They were running the whole way . . . and he likes that.”
The Black Prince was three back in the outside running line and peeled out four wide to head to the winning post before going on to score a 1.4m win over Lexus With A View (Blake Fitzpatrick) with Wrangler (Luke McCarthy) a further 1.9m away third.
The Black Prince (Bettors Delight-Its My Style) clocked 1.50.9 for the 1609m with Ison even more impressed.
“Winning a race going that mile rate is a bit different – I have been in races going that fast but not winning,” he said.
And after that superb night Ison was still trying to come to terms with his achievement.
“Words are hard to describe how I felt going over the line – I couldn’t believe that I had done that – there were a lot of congratulations then,” he said.
“Junior told me that I could sit back and relax now.”
Earlier Ison returned to his former home track of Tamworth on Thursday to drive a winner for the Tony Missen stables before heading for the big M and a night he’ll be telling his grandkids about in 50 years’ time.
“The Menangle win is a bit more special but it is nice to get a win at Tamworth too . . . a win at Tamworth will always be good,” he said.
Before Ison decided to leave his family and head to his new racing environment he had won the Under 23 Drivers Premiership at Tamworth on four successive occasions.
And his future ambitions after the impressive showing at Menangle?
“I will take it as it comes – I try not to set a goal as it always fails – I’m happy to take it as it comes,” grinned the modest young horseman.