RACING: First year apprentice jockey Greg Hayes is tough.
Not because he pilots beasts weighing a couple of hundred kilos galloping down a track at 60km/h, and not because he gets up at 2am every day to drive to the Sunshine Coast from his home in Curra for work, but because he has overcome more in his racing career in the last decade than most have in their lifetime.
Hayes claimed his first race win last Saturday on Endless Puzzle to bring home the $10,000 Diggers Cup in Gympie.
The victory marked the culmination of a career marred by setbacks.
In 2000, while working for acclaimed country trainer Pat Duff, Hayes was involved in a serious car accident.
After recovering from his injuries, he left the industry, not returning for 10 years.
Fast forward to 2016 and not long after he started his apprenticeship Hayes suffered a severely broken leg after a horrific race fall on the Sunshine Coast.
Such was the severity of the injury, he doubted if racing was the career for him.
"It has been a really long road,” Hayes said.
"I was starting to doubt myself on whether this was a good idea.
"Getting my first win was something.”
Claiming 4kg on Endless Puzzle, Hayes rated the seven-year-old Bradbury's Luck gelding perfectly over the 1470m of the Digger's Cup to record a very easy win, giving Wondai owner and breeder, Stewart Barr his second win as a trainer.