Dual Cox Plate and Caulfield Cup-winning rider Greg Childs will make an emotional return to Hawera today.
It was on the Taranaki track that he rode the first winner of his career, an early step toward establishing himself as one of New Zealand's finest jockeys before achieving outstanding success across the Tasman.
Childs has returned from Australia this week to accompany his son Jordan, who will be competing in the Asian Young Guns Challenge, a three-race international apprentices' series at Te Rapa on Saturday, and the 17-year-old will also be in action at the Egmont meeting today.
Childs senior is best known for his associations with such star gallopers as Sunline and Northerly, but he remembers his maiden victory as if it were yesterday.
"Nobody ever forgets and it was Stormee at Hawera for Brian Deacon - she was a pretty handy mare and I had to ride a good horse to win my first race," he said.
"I've got the photo on the wall and it was the 23rd of August, 1978."
There will also be a further Taranaki connection when Jordan makes his New Zealand riding debut on Thursday.
"He's apprenticed to Paddy Payne, who was born in Hawera," Greg Childs said. "Jordan's ridden 37 winners and we're all happy with the progress he's made.
"He's a tall lad at 172cm, but he's very thin and rides at 51kg. He was watching his weight and eating healthily before he started his apprenticeship so that's stood him in good stead. It will all be good experience for him."
The best of Childs' rides today looks to be Allan Sharrock's Keep Seeking in the Hawera Trainers' 1200.
The mare was a strong last-start second in a similar Rating 75 contest.
On Saturday, the apprentice will take on an international field in the Asian Young Guns Challenge, in which New Zealand will be represented by Rory Hutchings and Miranda Dravitzki.
Saturday's Foxbridge Plate at Te Rapa doesn't lack depth with a strong line-up to do battle, but that hasn't dulled the confidence of Te Awamutu horseman Brendon Hawtin.
With father Keith, he prepares the well-performed Miss Pelear and she is in the right order to make her presence felt when she resumes in the Waikato Stud-sponsored feature.
"We really could not be any happier and the forecast is for a bit of aqua," Hawtin said. "She loves Te Rapa and it doesn't matter to her whether the track is good or heavy.
"She always goes reasonably well fresh and we wouldn't want to be swapping her for any other runner, that's for sure."
The winner of three races on the course, Miss Pelear won the Rich Hill Mile and ran third in the Thorndon Mile during her last preparation. She was then put aside after finishing third at Te Rapa in April.
The 5-year-old has returned in fine fettle and recently won a trial in the hands of Noel Harris, who takes the mount again at the weekend.
"She trialled up beautifully and she's done really well with the trip away to Te Teko and a nice hit-out there," Hawtin said.
- NZ Racing Desk.