Amanda Payne’s high school Chinese class went a little different than usual on Monday of this week.
Instead of brushing up on the language, all the students crowded around to watch a replay of harness racing from Albion Park the Friday night before.
Teenager and Ipswich high school student Payne had just collected her maiden winner as a harness racing driver a few days before and all her mates and teachers wanted to witness the milestone together.
“My Chinese class, they were all watching it,” Payne said on Monday afternoon.
“Most of them knew what I was doing about becoming a driver.
“They thought it was amazing and all kept saying that I had such a good run in the race and it turned out perfect.
“The teacher was stoked too and loved it.”
Still only 16 years of age set to turn 17 later this year, Amanda only obtained her driver licence a month ago on June 18 and claimed her first victory at drive number four of her emerging career.
As one of the youngest drivers in the Sunshine State, Payne has been mentored by stalwart trainer and Marburg Pacing Association secretary Denis Smith, regularly honing her skills at the Marburg track.
The rookie driver grew up competing in show jumping and dressage and was only introduced to the harness racing industry by Smith in early 2020.
Being brand new to harness racing, Payne’s mother, Kate, also took out her trainer licence not long after and has a couple of horses in work as well.
The youngster began her journey with Smith and is now working as a stable hand at Veivers racing, being mentored by Ryan and Danielle, with Payne explaining she has learnt plenty from the pair and looks up to them as role models.
It was a fitting first win for Payne with Smith’s trotter Majestic Ess Jay taking out the last of 11 from Albion Park on Friday night, scoring by almost three lengths on the line.
Following a mid-race move, Payne was able to sit outside the leader for much of the second lap before going on with it in the home straight.
“It was amazing, I could not believe it was happening at the time and now that I am talking about it, I still do not believe it now,” Payne said.
“To get my first win, it was great and to drive Majestic Ess Jay too, it was amazing.”
Following her high school studies, Payne is keen to study equine science at university and continue to drive on top of her tertiary education.
By Jordan Gerrans for Racing Queensland