The current TAB-sponsored Inter Dominion series has certainly provided a raft of opportunities for many of the state’s talented young drivers.
Names such as Jack Trainor, Mitch Turnbull, Cameron Hart, Josh Gallagher, Anthony Frisby, Jack Callaghan and Brad Elder have all been given opportunities to drive in Australasia’s most important series.
One young reinsman who gained a thrill with a late call-up is Tamworth-based Tom Ison.
Ison, 23, was given the chance of a lifetime when prominent Sydney trainer Kevin Pizzuto contacted him out of the blue to ask if he would partner Arden Messi throughout the series.
“When Kev rang me a few days before the Menangle heats, I was a little bit shocked to be honest,” said Ison.
“But I had no hesitation and am very thankful for getting such a wonderful opportunity.
“When you are a kid, you dream of driving in these big races, and you hope that one day you might win one.
“I have to say this is a massive thrill.”
After spending around two years, working with leading Central Coast trainer Roy Roots Jnr, Ison decided to move back home after his father Andrew increased the number of horses he had in work.
“We are working quite a big team up here and then I often duck away to take drives for other trainers, so all that keeps me pretty busy,” he said.
Ison heads to Newcastle on Friday night where he rates Call Me Matty as a good chance of winning in the opening race.
“If he can find the pegs from gate five, I should be able to control the race and he will take some catching.”
Call Me Matty, who is trained by Adam Ruggari, was a Newcastle winner two starts back after leading, which is his preferred style of racing.
Despite his poor numerical form, Ison also fancies the chances of Yesnomaybeso in Race 5.
“This bloke has been well beaten in a number of his recent runs, but I do think he will be suited from gate one,” he said.
“He is a genuine chance given that he should enjoy a soft run.”
Ison has a busy night with seven drives on the eight-race program.
Newcastle officials have a frantic period ahead of them as the club hosts the Inter Dominion heats on Sunday and then another race meeting on Monday.
To view the fields for Newcastle on Friday click here.
To view the Intern Dominion heat fields for Newcastle on Sunday click here.
By Michael Dumesny for HRNSW