By Garrick Knight
The northern junior driver ranks have received a timely boost with the re-licensing of former Southland lad Tyler Dewe.
He’ll drive Armed Reactor at Cambridge on Saturday for new employers Jason and Megan Teaz.
It’s been six months since his last drive and in between times Dewe admits that he has been waging a personal battle with himself.
“About six months ago I made some very bad life decisions and my mental health started suffering as a result.
“And instead of opening up about it, I ran away.
“I was facing money troubles and ended up going to Nelson and getting on a fishing boat for a couple of months.
“I did it to get square and get my head right.
“It was actually a horrible decision and one I wouldn’t advise anyone else to do.
“You work eight hours on, eight hours off, constantly, for 32 days in a row.
“It took its toll, but it served its purpose in more ways than one.”
Back on track financially and feeling a whole lot better about himself and life, Dewe spent spring and the early summer helping out his uncle.
“Doing a bit of relief milking, odd jobs around the farm and things like that.”
He had no interest in returning to the racing industry, fearing he had burnt too many bridges.
“I was adamant I wasn’t coming back. More than anything I was worried about what everyone else thought.
“But my father drilled it in to me that I can’t be scared to go back in to the game if it’s what I really wanted to do with my life.”
By now Jason Teaz, who Dewe had got to know when based in Southland and when Teaz was commentating, had made contact.
Numbers at he and wife Megan’s stables in Ohaupo had swelled and they desperately needed someone who could drive fast work.
“Jason rung me up out of the blue and offered me a fresh start up here.
“I put him off for about three weeks but then on the first of January I thought, why not?”
A fresh start in a different area where junior drivers were needed sounded quite appealing.
“Before I came up I thought I’d take it day by day given what I’d been through.
“But now I’m up here, as long as they’re happy with me and have enough work for me, I’ll be staying.
“I have two-and-a-half seasons left on my juniors and I think a few guys like Dylan Ferguson and Fergus Schumacher will be coming out of their time later this year.
“So I see a great opportunity to drive some winners and get back in the winners’ circle.”
In Armed Reactor, he pilots a big horse with a lot of ability but perhaps a lack of consistency.
“I’ve watched all his races and thought he was quite impressive when he won at Cambridge a few starts back, beating Ideal Agent.
“He’s had some tough runs but I reckon he’s up to this field on ability.”
One thing is for sure – Dewe will just be happy to be out there. Something he didn’t think possible mere weeks ago.
“After the first morning driving work here I had that feeling back. That drive to get back out there on race day and compete.”