Day At The Track

An exciting yet scary move: Nicole Molander

01:55 AM 16 May 2011 NZST
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Nicole & Dean Molander in their Pukekohe Nicole Molander, winner of the 2009-2010 Sydney-bound Nicole Molander Nicole Molander driving her Nicole Molander doesn't have to touch
Nicole & Dean Molander in their Pukekohe - home with Ella and Jake in June 2011.
Duane Ranger photo
Nicole Molander, winner of the 2009-2010 - North Island Harness Racing Achievement Award.
Duane Ranger photo
Sydney-bound Nicole Molander - receives a kiss from husband Dean after a win last year.
Duane Ranger photo
Nicole Molander driving her - first Group One winner - Gotta Go Cullen back in 2006.
Courtesy Of Race Images, Christchurch, New Zealand
Nicole Molander doesn't have to touch - Secret Potion to win The Group One $150k Northern Oaks.
Duane Ranger photo
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The only woman to have ever driven a Group One winner will leave New Zealand on June 11 for a new harness racing life in New South Wales. Pukekohe-based Nicole Molander will take six horses with her and will be based on Racecourse Road - just two properties down from Menangle Park Raceway.

And although the 33-year-old and husband Dean are renting their Pukekohe home the move looks as though it will be a permanent one. Nicole's Christchurch-based parents Peter and Claire are also relocating to Sydney.

"It's both exciting and scary. I absolutely love Pukekohe and it was a tough decision for Dean and I to make. Dad's brother and sister also live in Sydney so the family will be together, but if it doesn't work out at least we have our Pukekohe home to come back to," Molander said.

She also said Dean's family also hailed from a racing background and they had given their son and daughter-in-law 100 per cent support on the move.

No Kiwi woman has ever driven a Group One winner in New Zealand. Christchurch-born Molander has driven four with Gotta Go Cullen and Secret Potion - twice each.

Secret Potion is owned by Brian West and as reported in Harnesslink last Friday it was the Canterbury owner/breeder who convinced the Molanders to set up in Menangle.

S"We were always contemplating heading to Australia, but initially it was going to be in Victoria, but now that Brian has offered to send us six of his team with us we have opted for Menangle.

"I have driven there and it is such a wonderful track and we all know that harness racing in New South Wales is really thriving at the moment. The stakes are so good. The sale of Harold Park has made it is the place to be," Molander said.

She said she would be working and driving a team of six to 10 at her new base.

"We have other horses in the pipeline from other trainers but nothing is confirmed yet. We would also be prepared to take other horses from other trainers. You can only train a maximum of 10 where we are staying but after a year that could change," Molander said.

By that she meant relocating to the new Menangle stabling enclosure which will be built by Harness Racing New South Wales in December.

"We will have a year to find our way and then hopefully all going well we will move to the new barn and increase our team. That is the goal anyway."

Molander paid a tribute to Harness Racing New Zealand and all the trainers who had guided her over the years.

"Harness Racing New Zealand has been so supportive of me from the day I started out. I am so grateful to them for what they have done for me. When I left school I never in my wildest dream thought I would achieve what I have.

"I was nominated for Driver-of-the-Year and also won the North Island Harness Racing Achievement Award twice. To Harness Racing New Zealand I will be forever grateful," she said.

Molander also paid a tribute to several trainers.

"I have so many people I want to thank for putting me in this position. Jack Smolenski believed in me from day one and said I could make it. He will always be my inspiration.

"Then there's Dave and Clare McGowan, Mark Purdon and Grant Payne, Barry Purdon, Derek Balle, Steve Hunt, Kevin Walker and Steven Reid. They have all been so helpful to me. I can't thank them enough.

"I'd like to make special mention of Dave and Clare who always gave me drives both before, during and after my pregnancies. They are wonderful people to be associated with. I will miss them so much. So will Ella - she absolutely adores them," Molander said.

Nicole and Dean have been married since 2007. They have two children - Ella (3) and Jake (seven months). In fact Molander was pregnant with Jake when she won her two Group One races with the Mark Purdon and Grant Payne trained Secret Potion.

By Duane RANGER (editor)

Nicole Molander and Secret Potion winning the Group One $150,000 Nevele R Fillies Final at Addington raceway on May 15, 2010:

Nicole Molander and Secret Potion winning the Group One $150,000 Northern Oaks at Alexandra Park on March 5, 2010:

Nicole Molander and Gotta Go Cullen winning the Group One $160,000 Sires Stake Final at Addington Raceway on November 14, 2006:

Nicole Molander and Gotta Go Cullen winning the $100,000 Trillian Trust 2yo Championship at Alexandra Park on June 16, 2006:

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