Canadian great Rick Zeron heading ‘Down Under’

06:57 AM 05 Feb 2014 NZDT
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56-year-old Rick Zeron
Rick Zeron - is heading down under

One of Canada’s harness racing greats is coming ‘Down Under’. Rick Zeron left Canada bound for Perth, via Dubai, last night (Tuesday). He and his wife of 34 years, Joyce, will return to Oakville in Ontario on March 4.

As at Tuesday (February 4), Zeron had driven 7,711 winners ($103 million) from 46,454 starters and trained a further 2,120 ($27 million) more from 8,916 attempts.

“I’m going to visit friends in Perth and then we will be heading to Sydney. There is a good chance we will attend the Inter Dominion grand final.

“New Zealand is also a possibility because we know that is a very beautiful country. It would be great to see how both countries operate their racing,” Zeron said.

The 57-year-old said he had never been to New Zealand and Australia.

“It’s been a life-time goal. My wife and I had planned to head down there in five or six years, but I said to her, ‘what the hell’, let’s do it now. We are really excited about it,” Zeron said.

Zeron shifted from Connaught Park to Blue Bonnets in 1982 and soon established himself as one of Quebec’s top driver, winning the Blue Bonnets driving premiership seven times from 1986-1994.

For seven consecutive years he was also the leading stakes earner seven times and top UDR strike rate driver on five occasions.

In 1995 he moved to the Woodbine and Mohawk circuits and has been one of their top reinsmen ever since.

His Little Brown Jug (Michael’s Power, 2012) winning son, Scott, is now one of Canada’s best reinsman, and recently moved to New Jersey to further his name at the surrounding big tracks like the Meadowlands.

On March 21 last year he became the youngest driver in history to win 2,000 races. He was just two months shy of his 24th birthday.

His father explained why he believed his son was so good in the sulky:

“I told him if you ever get a chance to put a good horse in the race, do exactly that, but if you are driving a poor horse I said to him to sit back and run on late and try and get a cheque for the owners.

“I also told him if I ever saw him flogging a horse with his stick like a crazed monkey he would never make it in the game.”

That epitomises why Zeron senior has made his name in North American harness racing circles.

Last year he drove 106 winners ($3 million) and trained 43 ($959,921).

Zeron has no driving assignments in Australia or New Zealand.

Zeron’s major wins include (with years in brackets):

CANADIAN TROT CLASSIC

  • (96) Classic Adam

CASUAL BREEZE

  • (04) Sunshinenlollipops

CHAMPLAIN STAKE

  • (90) Prudhomme
  • (98) Blissfull Hall
  • (02) Moma’s Millionaire
  • (02) Boulder Creek
  • (03) Character Counts
  • (05) Majestic Son
  • (07) Intimidator
  • (07) If And Only If
  • (08) Hibbler

COLONIAL LADY

  • (00) Hornby Jean

DYGERT MEMORIAL

  • (95) Tak The Tuk

FRANK RYAN MEMORIAL

  • (06) Stiletto

GENERAL BROCK FINAL

  • (96) Yentls Iceman
  • (04) Deadmans Curve

HARVEST

  • (03) Character Counts

MAPLE LEAF TROT

  • (98) Hanko Angus

ROBERT STEWART MEM.

  • (95) SOS Ninja

SIMCOE STAKE

  • (90) Osgood Hanover
  • (96) Look Whos Cumin
  • (99) Hawaiian Dancer
  • (00) Ladys A President
  • (03) EZ Past
  • (07) Hagi

 

By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

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