Day At The Track

Aussie-based Kiwi to win premiership?

09:00 AM 08 Feb 2017 NZDT
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Leading Alexandra Park junior Sean Grayling

With exactly half of the 2016-2017 harness racing season now behind us, an Australian-based Kiwi could nail the ‘Junior Driver’s Premiership’ at Alexandra Park.

The Auckland Trotting Club’s Racing Manager, Regan Cotter, released the latest premiership tables at ‘The Park’ this week, and New South Wales based Sean Grayling has a four-win lead over Pukekohe driver, Jack MacKinnon.

“To win the premiership in just five months would be the perfect way to leave New Zealand. It would be a dream come true. I’d be rapt to hold on and win it because I always enjoyed driving at Alexandra Park. It would mean a lot,” Grayling said.

“There’s just more driving opportunities over here though,” he added.

Grayling left Barry Purdon’s Clevedon stables on January 1, after three-and-a-half years with the Hall-of-Famer. He is now employed by Kevin Pizzuto at Leppington.

“We have a lot more meetings (three to four a week) to drive at over here. I’ve had six drives in the last four days. Kevin works a team of about 30 and has some nice horses in his stable, including the open class pacer, Tiger Tara.

“You are a claimer over here until you get 250 wins, so I’ve got another 220 to go. Life is great here. I can’t see me coming back in a hurry – if at all.

“There’s also more money to be made through driving over here,” the former Pukekohe High School student said.

Grayling has driven two winners since he crossed the Tasman last month – one at Newcastle and the other at Goulburn last Sunday.

“Driving the former Kiwi pacer Sketching to win on Sunday was a bit special, because that was my 21st birthday.

"I'm still learning to adjust to the driving style over here. They are a bit more aggressive and not scared to sit three-wide and parked. That's how I won my first race over here," Grayling said.

The former Kiwi said he enjoyed working for Pizzuto because he was a “straight talker”.

“He’s not afraid to say what he thinks and I respect that with him. There’s no back-stabbing there. He will tell me exactly how it is and I like that because that is the only way to learn,” said Grayling.

The three Alexandra Park premierships (top 5) currently read:

JUNIOR DRIVERS:

1) Sean Grayling - 8 wins, 9 placings, 44 starts, 0.2803 UDR strike-rate.

2) Jack MacKinnon - 4 wins, 6 placings, 35 starts, 0.1905 UDR.

3) Dylan Ferguson - 2 wins, 9 placings, 26 starts, 0.2265 UDR.

4) Robert Argue - 2 wins, 7 placings, 32 starts, 0.1563 UDR.

5) Andrew Drake – 1 win, 3 placings, 16 starts, 0.1389 UDR.

OPEN DRIVERS:

1) David Butcher - 17 wins, 30 placings, 114 starts, 0.2680 UDR.

2) Tony Herlihy (MNZM) - 16 wins, 24 placings, 104 starts, 0.2564 UDR.

3) Maurice McKendry – 16 wins, 20 placings, 107 starts, 0.2243 UDR.

4) Zac Butcher – 14 wins, 35 placings, 104 starts, 0.2767 UDR.

5) Josh Dickie – 11 wins, 14 placings, 65 starts, 0.2650 UDR.

TRAINERS:

1) Barry Purdon - 17 wins, 35 placings, 98 starts, 0.3333 UDR.

2) Tony Herlihy (MNZM) - 16 wins, 19 placings, 78 starts, 0.3063 UDR.

3) Mark Purdon & Natalie Rasmussen - 12 wins, 8 placings, 34 starts, 0.4641 UDR.

4) John & Josh Dickie - 12 wins, 18 placings, 68 starts, 0.3007 UDR.

5) Robert Dunn – 9 wins, 10 placings, 61 starts, 0.2168 UDR.

Duane Ranger

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