Day At The Track

Lews last fling

01:56 PM 10 Feb 2019 NZDT
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American Dealer, Lot 253
American Dealer, Lot 253

The long and colourful harness racing career of Lew Driver is coming to a close but he is still enjoying what he does best, bringing young horses up early. His self-confessed passion for “fast cars and slow horses” has been his trademark.

The rise and fall of Lew Driver has been well documented but his interest in horses is only a small part of the story. He started off in the butchery business where he built up a family firm that rivalled The Mad Butcher in the day. He then moved into the hospitality industry where he owned and ran a string of hotels and other businesses. But back in 2001 he could see the toll that the long hours and hard work, not to mention the drinking, was taking on him and his family and decided to wind down his business interests.

In 2003 he relocated to Canterbury and decided to put his considerable energy into training horses full-time instead of in the part-time and distracted basis that he had previously engaged.

In the 2005 and 2006 seasons he amassed $662,786 in stakes with horses that he owned and trained outright. Those were the days of Presido, The Reckoning, Gretamaro, Fleet Magic and On My Way. But it was his association with Gaelic Skipper that has given him the most highs and lows.

Gaelic Skipper raced 135 times over 8 seasons for 13 wins and 31 placings. He earnt $375,305 in stakes and finished 2nd in the 1990 Inter Dominions. The friendship that Lew forged with South Australia’s Les Harding while he was billeted there, has remained until this day whilst Gaelic Skipper lived out his days with Lew until his recent death at the staggering age of 36.

Driver is currently working his way through his existing horses and raced exciting 2 year old trotter Liaison at Alexandra Park on Friday night where the babies showed their good manners by trotting all the way. Liaison finished a satisfying 2nd but his home bred Strength Of Heart, went equally well when he ran 3rd at the Saturday workouts. The interestingly bred 2 year old son of Bettor’s Delight and Zenardle should pace but is just a natural trotter and looks to have a big future.

The three yearlings that Lew has in the upcoming sale at this year's inaugural National Standardbred Yearling Sale at Christchurch illustrate his long association with some of New Zealand’s best families.

Inspirational Sir, Lot 181 is a Majestic Son filly from Tip Your Hat Loui. This makes her a half-sister to Gentleman Sir who was sold to Australia for a very large sum several seasons ago. His last start efforts at Manawatu where he sensationally won on both days off extremely long handicaps, will long be remembered. But this is also the family of On My Way which Lew raced with success as a 2 year old and was then a perennial favourite for Michelle Wallis. The ill-fated Triffid is also from this family and raced 29 times for Lew for 8 wins and 12 placings.

Gentleman Sir (HRNZ Photo)

American Dealer, Lot 253 is an American Ideal colt from Maddison’s Delight. This family is hot to trot at the moment and Amazing Art was high priced Ready to Run colt that Lew purchased out of the broodmare gem Pacing Grace. Lew is currently racing another son of American Ideal, Reckon I’m Smart, who is also from Pacing Grace. Maddison’s Delight is a Bettor’s Delight daughter of Pacing Grace and her first foal is already a 2 year old trial winner in WA.

American Dealer, Lot 253

Luke John, Lot 345 is a Mach Three colt from Zenardle. Zenardle has left a host of winners with only 2 yet to race. The exciting 2 year old Strength Of Heart and Lew’s Delight who won’t be seen on the track due to a career ending injury. Her first foal Zenable, won $176,148 in Australia taking a time of 1:51.2. Then came Elroy Jetson who is still winning for Kevin Puzzuto and has $171,943 in stakes with a time of 1:50.8. Zenmach won 6 times in NZ, once as a 2 year old, and has won $45,528. Balfast won 3 here before joining Kevin Puzzuto earlier this season and Drum Withers has had 2 wins and is back in work with Driver.

Luke John, Lot 345

Lew Driver has been around for a long time and recently announced his retirement after he reached his personal milestone of training 300 winners, all owned by himself or family interests. Although the end is nigh I am sure that there will still be a horse racing in the ownership of L C Driver for a few years to come.

Harnesslink Media

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