Convincing Central Districts star Hayden Tinsley to ride at a mid-week northern meeting at the end of last season would have been inconceivable.
Disillusioned and stuck in Groundhog Day hell, the most motivated rider in the country right now went sour on the game and decided to quit.
Tinsley had simply woken up one day and freaked that he was driving the same car he had had for the last eight years and was still in the same Palmerston North house he had lived in for the last nine.
Something had to change, or one of the most gifted riders in New Zealand would be lost for good.
"I knew I didn't want to be doing the same thing for the next 10 years but I also knew I was the only one who could change it," said a born-again Tinsley, who has seven rides at Te Rapa today.
Tinsley got the answer he was looking for when he attended a property investment class.
The people with the key to rental market riches convinced Tinsley to attend a four-day seminar in Sydney by American motivational guru Tony Robbins.
Tinsley had never heard the tapes or watched the videos by the infomercial giant; he was lured across the Tasman by one thing - the chance to fire walk, the tool Robbins uses to free the mind and teach his clients that anything is possible.
"I've always been a bit of an adrenalin junkie but I'd never walked on fire," said Tinsley.
"It was a pretty big buzz. It [fire pit] was 15 feet long but by the time I got to the end I couldn't remember walking that far, I was so hyped up.
"It made me realise that everything is mind over matter. What I once thought impossible is not."
Out of the saddle, Tinsley is just beginning to discover the power of his new approach.
In the less than eight months he has dabbled in the property market he has acquired seven rental properties.
He has also now realised the value of time.
"It's the one thing," says Tinsley, "you can't buy any more of." Which is why he has hired former Trackside presenter Andre Neill to look after his rides.
Tinsley says that Neill is not only booking the right mounts, he is also a powerful motivating force to keep pushing the boundaries and reinforcing the life-lessons from Robbins.
That also explains why Tinsley, who has always fought to keep his weight hovering around 55kg, was getting on more planes than Lisa Cropp or Darryl Bradley over the Christmas holiday period.
"It used to feel hard for me to ride at three meetings in a row with all the wasting I do but I've never really pushed myself," said Tinsley.
"That's why I rode at 12 meetings in 15 days over Christmas and six of those were in a row. I now know I can do even more, it's just mind over matter."
Tinsley, who is in third place on the premiership with 57 wins for the season, feels his new approach to life has also transformed his riding.
"I've made some pretty ballsy judgment calls that have paid off in the last couple of weeks and that's really opened up my eyes to what I can do."
Riding in career-best touch, the 30-year-old was already one win ahead of his entire 2003-2004 total before climbing aboard his opening mount, Prince Of Seville, at Te Rapa today.
But he stopped short of throwing down the gauntlet to premiership leaders Leith Innes and Cropp, who are a further 13 and nine wins clear respectively.
"I don't want the headline to read, I want to win the premiership, I'd rather it read I want to do the best I can do this season," said Tinsley, who has thrived on challenges since representing New Zealand in hockey as a teenager.
"I just want to do the utmost I can to be up near the lead at the end."
Tinsley, however, knew almost nothing about his Te Rapa mounts before arriving on course today.
His manager Andre Neill said Cambridge trainer Mark Todd was the main reason Tinsley was making the rare mid-week northern appearance.
Todd wanted Tinsley to partner his Avondale Cup runner-up Stanica fresh-up in the progressive 1600, with a view to reuniting with the horse in the Whakanui Stud International Stakes on the course on February 12.
Tinsley has a big Wellington summer carnival ahead, kicking off on Saturday with El Bulli in the New Zealand Oaks and Railway winner Recurring in the Telegraph Handicap.
Yesterday, however, Tinsley was still without a mount in the Wellington Cup on Saturday week.