Derek Balle’s season drought is over.
The talented horseman was relieved to record his first wins of the season, as both a trainer and driver, at Alexandra Park on Wednesday night courtesy of Sheffield Sparky and Kimkar Dash.
Balle’s stable has been going through a rebuilding phase this term and he said a fair number of his team were ready to resume right when the COVID-19 enforced lockdown put a halt to racing.
“It has been a while since we got one or two wins, so it’s good to get rid of that duck,” Balle said.
“We sold a few and sacked a few, we had a bit of a rebuilding season.
“They were all ready to go before lockdown and they are starting to come good now, so hopefully we can get some more.”
Sheffield Sparky started the night off well for Balle in the Cathy Gubb – “Movin and Groovin On” Mobile Pace (2200m), with junior driver Zev Meredith giving the son of Art Major the perfect trip in the trail.
He was able to take advantage of the passing lane and ran away to a 2-3/4 length win over even money favourite Silk.
“He was a fraction disappointing first-up (when finishing third) on the back of a couple of good trials,” Balle said.
“I freshened him up after that run and he hit the line nicely tonight, so I am very happy with him.
“He got a nice run tonight and it was a good drive by Zev, he drove him well last time as well.
“There should be a few more wins instore for him.”
Balle’s night got even better two races later when he reined home Kimkar Dash to win the Breckon Farms Trot (2200m).
The five-year-old daughter of Skyvalley was having her first run for Balle in nearly a year and he was delighted to get back in the winner’s circle with the mare.
“It was good to get her back on the track,” Balle said.
“She has always had plenty of ability, but she has just struggled with her weight and she was a little bit immature mentally so we have had to be patient with her.
“She was ready to go before lockdown, but we had to turn her out because we couldn’t work any horses at Pukekohe.
“But it hasn’t hurt her, she is nice and strong now and hopefully there is plenty more racing in her.”