It was a triumphant homecoming for Tom Ison at Tamworth Paceway, piloting New Zealand gelding Van Laddie to victory after getting the better of race favourite Kid Montana.
The significance of the win over the Narrabri flyer - who has had 23 top placings in 65 starts - was not lost on young Ison - now with leading Newcastle trainer Roy Roots Jnr.
Ison agreed that the win in the Tamworth HRC Volunteers Appreciation Pace (1609m) on Sunday night was special.
Six-year-old Van Laddie claimed his sixth victory in 35 starts, beating the Danny Mackney-trained and driven La Safron by 1.5m and the Peter Shepherdson-trained Kid Montana (Chris Shepherdson) by 2.4m.
From the front row, Ison immediately took Van Laddie to the front - a tactic he decided to employee when the field first came out.
Ison said: "We just went straight to the front ... and that was it. He just grabbed the bit and he just wanted to go."
He added: "When I sort of took a look at Kid Montana at the bell and seeing where he was, three out and one back, I thought he's caught up in too much traffic now. If we put the burners on, he won't be able to catch us."
It was Van Laddie's third run back after some 11 months off the track, with his previous results a 10th and a fifth in Newcastle.
"It just took a long time to get him back," Ison said.
Kid Montana - the reigning Tamworth Harness Racing Club horse of the year - started from the second row.