New Zealand harness racing representative Steve Phillips will take an eight point lead into the final day of the World Cup of Amateur Driving at Motukarara today - but he will need to be at his very best in the final three races to take the title.
Phillips, who has won three of the seven races contested so far, has drawn out-of-form runners in Allingoodtime in race two and Little Tomtom in race four, and has fared badly in the draw with Nikita Bromac in race seven.
But Phillips, at 63 the oldest competitor in the series and dubbed the godfather of the NZ movement, is hoping his years of experience of driving on grass might swing things his way against many rivals unfamiliar with the surface.
"I'll be giving them as economical run as I possibly can and hopefully I can pick up more than the minimum points," Phillips said.
Phillips, who set up a big lead in the championship when scoring on $19 winner Tor Riley and $9 winner Maiden Rome at Addington on Friday night, had his hopes dashed in the third race when his drive Surrender galloped hopelessly at the start.
"He had no excuse to gallop really. The horse in front of him was skipping and hopping and he just panicked and didn't want to trot."
Drivers' points standings and TAB quote
Steve Phillips NZ 68 $3
Jaap Terstal Netherlands 60 $3.30
Damian Oliver Oliver Spain 60 $3.30
Marian Tux Germany 57 $5.50
Jiri Svoboda Czech Republic 44 $12
Volodymyr Kushtal Ukraine 41 $18
Kelly Walker United States 40 $21
Bernt Oksnevad Norway 40 $26
Franck Marty France 39 $26
Bjarke Haagensen Denmark 39 $61
Piet Van Pollaert Belgium 37 $61
Georgy Makarevich Russia 30 $100
Courtesy of Barry LICHTER and Sunday Star Times