Matt Elkins looks set to train a heap more winners from next month on, but the 23-year-old will never forget his first training success at Albion Park on Tuesday (April 11).
Elkins will team up with his partner, Narissa McMullen on September 1, in what will be a new Queensland training force.
McMullen has nine in work, but had it not been for the kind gesture of Kevin and Kay Seymour, Elkins would only be helping his father, Greg’s 14-stromg team at Calvert.
They Seymours’ gifted Elkins a “hot-headed” 5-year-old son of Christian Cullen named Paravani in late February.
Last Tuesday just before 5pm Paravani (4) notched up his seventh win in race five - the $8,000 Rio Cobra Sulky NR 56 to 60 Pace. He won by 2.6m in 1:53.8 and was the $16.60 sixth favourite in the nine horse field.
Elkins rushed Paravani to the lead from gate four in the 1,660m mobile. His sectionals were 26.8, 30, 28.3, and 28.9.
It was just Elkins third start with the bay gelding after resuming from an eight-month spell in early July.
“I am overwhelmed with kindness displayed by Mr and Mrs Seymour. I’ve always wanted to train and good pacer and now I’ve trained and driven my first Albion Park winner. He’s a really nice horse and I think spelling him when we got him has calmed him down. I’ve brought him back slowly.
“He’s developing into a nice pacer. I saw his races in New Zealand and I liked the way he went about his work over there. I’ve also learnt to drive him the way he feels, without having to urge him on.
“He’s coming to it nicely and will be part of Narissa and my stable starting next season (September 10). He had a tendency to gallop and I think he’s slowly out-grown that bad habit,” Elkins said.
Paravani came from Jim Curtin’s Canterbury stable in New Zealand in December 2018, where he was the winner two of his 27 starts (six placings).
His full brother, 9yo Our Buscemi has won 12 races and $61,984 has won 12 races and $61,984 since his first Queensland start in July 2017. They are both out of Badlands Hanover two-win mare, Enchanter Franco.
He had 48 starts, six wins and nine placings for his previous trainers, Chantal Turpin and Peter McMullen.
“He’s come back nice this campaign and I’d like to think he can now go through the grades. It’s all a bit surreal really. Mr and Mrs Seymour keep on giving to our industry and now I’m the recipient of one of their nice horses.
“Again, I can’t stress how thankful I am, not only for what they have done for me, but the whole Queensland industry,” Elkins said.
Elkins had a good start to the week. He also drove the Warren Hinze trained Underthekilt to win race four on Tuesday, and then won the following evening at Redcliffe behind the Dan Russell trained Getaloadofthisgirl (R5).
This season Elkins has reined 77 winners from 727 starters in 2019-2020. He has also placed 159 times and banked $472,166 in purses.
He currently sits 10th and fourth respectively on the Queensland Driving and Concession Drivers’ Premierships. He is also closing in on the 500-career win milestone.
Elkins this season represented Queensland at the 2019 Australasian Young Drivers Championship in New Zealand from December 7 to December 13.
He the State’s leading junior driver, and was selected because of his personal best 110 wins last season.
Not bad for a reinsman, who could have made a career out of cricket. In fact, centuries were a regularity for the gifted all-rounder.
He’s achieved that feat more than half a dozen times in his brief cricketing career, including a ton in a T20 match off 40-odd balls.
He played First Grade cricket in Brisbane at the age of 17, and was captain of the Queensland Under 16 side, still believes he made the right career decision, despite his scary-good cricket talents.
“Achieving milestones, being selected for Queensland, and receiving a lovely horse like Paravani validates my decision to go with harness racing. It pays the bills and I’m driving okay.
The former Rosewood State High School student played against Aussie test players, Usman Khawaja, Joe Burns, Ryan Harris.
“There’s some days when you are doing no good on the track you wish you were back scoring runs and taking wickets on the cricket field.
“Then when you get a duck or have a bad day in the field, you wish you were with the horses. I couldn’t do both because I had to attend practises to make the top teams, and that’s when I’d lose drives,” Elkins said.
“I’m in a really happy place at the moment with Narissa and the horses and playing serious cricket is just a memory now. Training and driving horses like Paravani is my future.
“Narissa and I will both be looking for more horses and opportunities once we move in together,” he added.