He might only be 18 but Kyle Marshallwill remember the Thames Harness Racing Club’s annual grass track meetings for as long as he lives. Twelve months after having his first race-day drive on the track Marshall has saluted the judge for the first time.

On January 9 last year Marshall drove the Mike Berger trained Gwynfromeartoear into ninth place in a 1-2-win pace for junior drivers. Then on January 8 this year (last Sunday) he steered the Michelle Wallis trained Courtney Cass to easily win a 1-3-win pace, also for junior drivers.

“It was a great buzz. It’s something I always dreamed of. I just want to thank Michelle and Bernie (Hackett) for giving me the opportunity to drive their horses.

“My goal now is to win as many races as I can in 2012. I love this job. I am living my dream,” Waiuku-based Marshall said.

Born in Hamilton, Marshall left Cambridge High School when he was 16. His father David is a trainer and has won six races since 2007-2008.

It was inevitable that Marshall would enter the harness racing ranks.

“I’ve been around horses most of my life. I love them. I did Kidz Kartz before I left school. Dad has been an inspiration to me. I’m so enjoying what I do now. It’s sometimes hard to believe I’m actually doing this for ma living,” Marshall said.

Marshall was employed by Cambridge conditioner Mike Berger when he left school. He worked for him for just over a year before joining forces with Wallis and Hackett in March last year.

“Mike got me all my workouts and trials licences and Peter Ferguson was a great help too. He taught me a lot. I remember he would go over my workout drives with me on TV. He’s my favourite driver,” Marshall said.

Marshall has now had 45 drives (20 this season) for one win, five placings and $9,438.

“At this stage of my life it’s all about learning and talking in what people tell me. It’s great to be at a big stable here in Waiuku. Michelle has about 24 in work and I’m the only junior driver in the stable – and loving it,” he said.

Marshall drove like an old pro last Sunday. At the finish line he and Courtney Cass had 2-3/4 lengths to spare over the second placed favourite, Elias Bromac (see video).

They paced the 2600m mobile (in wet weather) in 3:55.9 (mile rate: 2:25.9) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 69.2 and 34.1 seconds.

Marshall’s next drive will be behind his father’s pacer – Forward Pass in the seventh race at Cambridge on Friday (January 13), and then he reunites with Courtney Cass in the Morrinsville Grass Cup on the Te Aroha Grass on Sunday.

That 7-year-old Village Jasper mare is going for her third straight win and sixth overall.