Day At The Track

Cancelled trip pays dividends

08:59 AM 15 Sep 2016 NZST
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Andrew Drake

An aborted trip to Denmark has ultimately paid dividends for promising Pukekohe junior driver Andrew Drake.

The 20-year-old was scheduled to visit friends in Scandinavia in August but when plans fell through he was left jobless and uncertain about his harness racing future.

The Palmerston North-born and educated horseman had already handed in his notice to Todd Mitchell at Tauwhare when Green heard that Drake had been left out in the cold.

 "I came to Todd’s from Stephen Doody’s in mid-January and would probably still be there if it wasn’t for the Denmark trip being called off.

“I’ve been at Lincoln Farms for almost a month now and I am really enjoying it a lot. Todd gave me some great opportunities and now that Andre (Poutama) has finished his junior driving days I’m hoping I might get more drives up here,” Drake said.

“I'm rapt with the start I've had and the opportunities I’ve been given so far. I just hope they continue,” he added.

Drake has started the season in fine fashion with two wins from seven drives and is one win behind the North Island’s leading junior, Sean Grayling.

Ironically his two wins have come behind his former boss’s two standardbreds - Creamee (August 18 at Cambridge) and Stunin Banner (September 8 at Cambridge).

 “Todd trains them both and he has always been a great help to me. Both he and Ray are very high up on the trainer’s premiership and it has, and is, a privilege to have worked for them both.

“Ray has a strong team with really nice horses, but like I said if the Denmark trip had still been on this wouldn’t have happened. I was going to go for a year and have a real good look around but then fate stepped in.

“Ray needed a worker at the time and it has all fallen into place. I moved up here (Pukekohe) and started straight away. They have horses for junior races and I just gotta hope I can get more outside drives now that I’m working around the Franklin training track,” Drake said.

Drake has reined home nine winners and 27 place-getters ($74,673) from 148 drives since first taking out his licence in 2014.

Four months after having his first New Zealand drive Drake drove his first winner via the Stephen Doody trained Eyre Hostess at Manawatu Raceway in February 2015.

“I would not be driving today if it wasn’t for Stephen. He inspired me to become a horseman. It was because of him I wanted to leave school and become a driver. He has taught me so much.

“Stephen great to work for and the reason I am doing what I do today. I live for driving. I wouldn’t ever want to do anything else. I owe it all to him – and Mum of course,” Drake said.

Drake’s Mum, Tracey was Doody’s former partner when he was growing up and Drake became hooked on harness racing through Doody.

He left Palmerston North Boys High at 16 and then when he was 17 he went to Perth to further his career abroad.

“I worked for Kade Howson and had eight drives but never saluted. I was there for nine months but the drives were few and far between so I returned to New Zealand and worked for Stephen again. Then I went to Todd's,” Drake said.

 

Duane Ranger

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