The heaviest harness racing driver in New Zealand - possibly the world - has landed his first winner.
Buller tighthead prop Jack Best, who tipped the scales at 117kg, guided Bonnie Boy home in the Trillion Trust Mobile Pace (2000m) at Ōtaki last Friday at odds of more than 15 to 1.
It was a popular victory in what had been a patient wait for the 25 year old. His first raceday drive was six years ago, and this was his 60th raceday drive.
"It's been a long time coming - good things take time and I just had to be patient," he said.
"I knew he was ready and would be a good chance."
While he had managed some close second and third placings in the past since his debut drive as a 19 year old, that winning photo had eluded the contractor tractor driver.
He had had only eight drives so far this season, and tended to drive more in the summer months when the racing surfaces were more firm.
Bonnie Boy was trained at Blenheim by his mother Ann-Marie Best, who was full of praise for the drive and was confident leading into the race, too.
"He gets on really well with Bonnie Boy and drives him really well. It was a cracking drive and just having that win now will give him that confidence," she said.
"He's been driving since he was nine years old. He took to it like a duck to water."
"He's always been a big help. He's good with the young ones."
Mrs Best suggested to her son leading into the race it would be good if he could get his weight down.
"I said you need to lose 10kg. He managed to lose two ... I said you have to get a wee bit leaner if you want to keep driving for me," she said.
"He's not fat...he's just got big shoulders. He goes to the gym every day and he's very sporty. He loves his sport."
Many senior drivers, on realising it was his first win, were quick to congratulate a grinning Best in the birdcage by shaking his hand after the race.
Best was a former student of St Bede's College in Christchurch and was part of that school's champion 1st XV rugby team.
He had driven for some top stables and had worked for the likes of Dean Taylor and Nigel McGrath.
It begged the question, was weight a hindrance to the performance of a horse, like it would be in the galloping code?
The general consensus was not on firm ground, but is the track was heavy then more weight on the cart could impede performance.
Meanwhile, Levin trainer Murray Gibbs got in the winner's circle when Mr Billards won one the first day for owners Mr Peters and Mr and Mrs Penney.