One of Queensland’s best reinsmen puts his rapid rise in the sport down to two of the State’s most powerful harness racing duo.
Tamborine reinsman, Paul Diebert, said his boss, Grant Dixon, and his mentor, Kevin Seymour, had ensured the 2019 and 2020 seasons were a couple of years of his life that he would never forget.
“I’d never driven a Group One winner before and I’d never won 100 races in a season. Obviously without Grant and Trista (Dixon) I’d never be where I am today.
“Grant is not only someone I look up to for what his family have achieved in our sport, but he has also gone out of his way to give me drives.
“And I know Mr Seymour has suggested a few things to him about me. For example, it was Mr Seymour that insisted I drive Ohoka Punter in the Sunshine Sprint in July last year,” Diebert told Egmont Park Stud.
“To be fair I wasn’t sure if I was even going to stay in the game when my claim finished. I was a bit lost, and had it not been for Grant and Mr Seymour, who knows where I would be now,” the New South Wales native said. Paul Diebert wondered if he would ever get more than one drive per meeting.
“To be fair I was struggling, and was starting to wonder where my next drive was going to come from. It’s been a big turnaround. The last couple of weekends I’ve had my first two full book of Saturday night drives at Albion Park. This week I’ve got eight (out of nine).
“Returning to Grant and Trista Dixon’s stable late last year has certainly lifted my profile. Winning my first Group One in that Sunshine Sprint has also helped. I just can’t thank the trainers and owners enough – especially Grant and Trista. They have done so much for me. I’m driving five for them on Saturday,” Diebert said.
Seymour has always had time for the promising 25-year-old.
“It was a fantastic drive and I honestly believe Paul is one of the most underrated drivers going around in Queensland. Kay and I are so proud of him,” Seymour said the night of Ohoka Punter's victory in the Group One.
"I've always liked talking to Paul because he listens and takes it all in. He only needed the drives to prove himself, and now that he's getting in the sulky more and more, the results are starting to show," Seymour said.
“He’s the future of racing here,” he added.
For that reason, Diebert said he had no intention of leaving his adopted State.
“I love it here. My driving has gone from strength to strength simply because I’m out there in the middle more. This is all I’ve wanted to do, and I’m kinda living the dream,” Diebert said.
As of this morning (Tuesday September 22) Diebert had reined 135 winners from 1,108 drives. He had also placed 267 times and banked $922,479.
He is placed fifth on the Queensland Driving Premiership behind Peter McMullen (205), Nathan Dawson (190), Grant Dixon (166) and Narissa McMullen (152).
“Banking $1 million in stakes is a goal for another season, but I couldn’t be happier the way 2019-2020 has gone. I was leading the premiership for a while and made a real good start to the season.
“I just hope I can keep kicking goals like this for many years to come,” Diebert said.
In 2018-2019, Diebert didn’t even finish in the Top 10, and the season prior he notched up 58 winners as a concession driver from his 579 drives.
But the Tamborine horseman hasn’t been gifted his new -found fame on a plate. He’s a tireless worker, and has been jogging standardbreds since he was 14. He was actually advised by his family to pursue another career.
Diebert said he was born into a harness racing family in the Riverina region of New South Wales. He said he got the bug from his grandfather and father (Norm Diebert Snr & Jnr).
“They never wanted me to get into harness racing, but like I said I got the bug when I was in my early teens and haven’t looked back. I’m proud to be a third- generation member of my family that has taken up harness racing for a living.
“I have worked for a few trainers since starting out in 2010 when I left school. I even left the industry and went to Thailand for a while. I’ve also worked for stables in New South Wales, Western Australia (2016-2017) and Queensland,” Diebert said.
“I’d worked for Grant previously and this time I’ve been back at his (Tamborine) stables since late 2018. He’s a real pleasure to work for. You can see why he’s Australia’s top trainer. Grant gives a lot of attention to detail,” he added.
“I think driving horses for the country’s top trainer has certainly lifted my profile a bit. Sometimes you can’t help but win when you get behind quality horse-flesh,” he added.
He said his boss always insisted that Diebert did his homework behind every drive.
“That’s how professional he is. Grant leaves nothing to chance,” said Diebert.
He said the highlight of 2019-2020 was notching up his 100th winner of the season behind the Alex Cane trained Kurahaupo Gambler at Albion Park on Anzac Day (April 25).
“That was a bit special because I’d never even got close to the 100 before. But in saying that every triumph is special because I love to win.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s at Marburg or a big city race, I’m not out there to look at the pylons. I’m competitive by nature and must win! Just ask Duane Ranger when I play him in table tennis,” he said.
Diebert's first winning drive came at Leeton on April 14, 2012 behind the Shaun Snudden trained Chrissy Styx.