Ricki Herbert will line up against nine other horses when he drives Chalberg at Cambridge Harness racecourse on Thursday night (file photo)
It will be a change of pace for Ricki Herbert when he lines up behind the starting gate at Cambridge Harness Raceway.
The former All White coach will be in the sulky behind pacer Chalberg in race one at Thursday evening meeting.
The 59-year-old is no stranger to the sport, with his late father Clive Herbert having been a trainer of standardbreds, with more than 150 winners and won almost $1 million in stakes.
“My mum passed away about four years ago, and my dad about 18 months ago, and I wanted to resurrect his colours that he used to have for the drivers,” Herbert said.
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“The second thing was I would love to have a drive in his colours.”
Herbert, who is involved with the Hamilton Wanderers and Cambridge Football clubs as well as his own Ricky Herbert Football academy, said racing was something he enjoyed outside the round ball code.
“It’s a bit of relaxation, a bit of recreational activity and a sport I have always enjoyed.
“I just go down each morning or when I can with a young trainer in Cambridge, Kyle Marshall.”
Herbert has obtained his amateur licence and will be driving Chalberg a six-year-old gelding, who he also has an ownership share in.
“He actually won first up for us at Cambridge going around in dad’s colours, and he’s trained by another young trainer Luke Whittaker.”
It’s been 27 years since Herbert put on the white and blue with gold band racing silks, but he wouldn’t say he was nervous.
“I think deep down I am really pleased, I think it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. And that time when your parents aren’t here, and I thought I am just going to do it.
“Like I say to everybody, it’s not something to change my life. But it’s something I thoroughly enjoy and part of my life.”
Herbert has worked his way back into the sport with a few work out drives when he can, but believes it’s not the fitness that is a concern it’s the mental side of the sport that has to be switched on.
“I think you have to be very focused on what you are doing. It’s obviously a high speed activity in an industry with horses, and carts and people around you, so it’s a sport to be very aware of and concentrating. But I am really looking forward to it, I enjoy it.”
And when Herbert takes his Chalberg out onto the track for the 2700-metre race at 5.24pm
“There will be nobody prouder than me putting dad’s colours on and going around on a horse. If I come last or whatever it will be irrelevant, it’s just a great feeling to be out there just wearing them.”
At the TAB Chalberg and Herbert are paying $9.40 for a win and are rated a contender.