Day At The Track

Champ to Cheat - The fall of Nigel McGrath

06:30 AM 18 Jul 2020 NZST
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Nigel McGrath’s trophy cupboard was packed,Harness racing
Nigel McGrath’s trophy cupboard was packed.

Canterbury trainer Nigel McGrath had it all. A successful career, beautiful wife, lovely family, money, and lots of friends. Unfortunately he was also a cheat. MARTIN VAN BEYNEN reports.

“Racing”, said the caller as the barrier arms folded and the field of trotters pounded down the first straight of the 2600-metre race at Addington in Christchurch.

It was April 6, 2018, and the $200,000 New Zealand Derby, the premier event of the year for Group One 3-year-olds, was under way. The pace was hot, and with 950m to go, spectators were on their feet for a classic contest.

Alta Maestro was hogging the lead on the inside. New Zealand's top driver, Blair Orange, made his move to the front with colt Sheriff. Round the final corner and into the straight, Sheriff was fighting for the lead with Pat’s Delight and favourite Sicario.

“Pat’s Delight getting through on the inside from Sicario. Sheriff leads, margin ahead, Pat’s Delight, still Sheriff, Pat’s Delight coming, here’s the post. Sheriff won in a nose. What a derby.”

After the final frenzy from the race caller, it was clear Sheriff had set a race record and posted what would probably be Nigel McGrath's finest moment in his harness racing career.

Well turned-out as usual, McGrath, then 45, punched the air and began accepting congratulations.


Read the full story here!


by Martin Van Beynen

Reprinted with permission from Stuff

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