When Damien Smith takes to the track at Friday night’s Tamworth Harness Racing Club meeting, it will be like a homecoming for the Maitland reinsman.
As a 16-year-old, Smith made an impact at Tamworth when he drove his first winner on debut in April 2004.
The horse, Bush Eagle, was trained by his father Kenneth Smith Jnr.
Smith went on to drive plenty more winners including a Glenn Tomlin Memorial and a Newcastle Cup.
But then life got in the way and he stepped away from harness racing for seven years.
“I brought a house, got married and Ashley and I have a little one due next month,” he said.
“I wanted to make my comeback at Tamworth first up but it didn’t work out that way, but hopefully my luck will change tonight.”
Smith will take the reins behind Double Dee and Our Midnight Mayhem for the Kristine Jackson stables.
Upon making his return to racing in August, he was nearly in the winner’s circle first up with Double Dee at Newcastle.
“Some how I got conned back into driving again,” he said.
“I finished second on him my first drive back. I have only had the one winner [since then] and that was at the trials. It feels like I never left.”
On Friday night, Smith will contest the Peter Jackson Bookmakers Membership Draw Pace behind Double Dee.
“I have had a couple of drives behind the horse but we will have to wait and see how the race pans out for him,” he said.
Our Midnight Mayhem will have race start 141 in the Global Bloodstock Pace, with Smith taking the reins for the first time behind the Mach Three gelding.
“He has been racing OK – just needs some luck in the race,” Smith said.