Seventeen year old Tom Nally was destined to get into harness racing one way or another. His grandfather Vin Nally has been involved in the industry in Southland since the 1970s and he was always keen to get the next generation involved.
“I never knew too much about horses and only knew he worked with them when I was about eleven. That’s when I clicked onto it. I love going out there its great fun,” Tom said.
He said a few of Vin’s grandchildren helped out at the Nally farm at Makarewa over the holidays and he enjoyed breaking in young stock with his grandfather. Some of those included Maidonthebeach (7 wins), Tizano (8 wins), Holly Havoc a recent winner at Forbury Park, and Whiskeyinthejar.
Tom left school when he was 16. “School wasn’t really my thing. I just wanted to start working with horse’s full time.”
Most of the horses Vin Nally breaks in are for his good friend Graham Cooney and they all head to Ryal Bush trainer Hamish Hunter, which is where Tom has ended up as well.
He says the move has given him the chance to learn how to drive and rate horses. “I used to like working with the young ones but lately I’ve loved driving them. I’ve come a long way. Hamish and Vincey have taught me a lot.”
Nally works between thirty five to fifty hours a week at Hunters and he says driving a horse to a stopwatch has been one of the more challenging aspects of his probation.
“It didn’t come easy for a start and it took me a while to get the hang of it especially round different tracks. I’ve been getting better lately.”
He currently holds a stable hands licence and has almost completed the required number of workout drives to get his trials licence.
“I’ve got three more drives at the workouts and then in September or October I’ll be able to get it.”
Nally is also a part of the Southland Cadet Scheme and says he enjoys the activities and being part of the group.
“It’s good fun actually and it’s not too hard. The bookwork is the hardest for me because I’m not really into that sort of stuff but I knuckle down and do it. I’ll get it done and get my licenses.”
He says the best horse he’s driven is Maidonthebeach while the best horse he’s seen racing is Scarrymcleary, owned by Vin and The Dolomite Syndicate,. He’s won thirteen pacing and a further eight trotting.
He rates Matty Williamson as his favourite driver.