Day At The Track

Ferguson claims title

09:35 AM 22 Jul 2017 NZST
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Dylan Ferguson driving Beckingsale to win the North Island Country Cups Final

He might not have won the Alexandra Park or Cambridge Raceway junior driving premierships this season, but Dylan Ferguson already looks to have claimed the title of the top ‘North Island Junior Driver’ in 2016-2017.

The 20-year-old Cambridge reinsman, who notched up his 50th career win this season, and last week drove his first Forbury Park winner at his first attempt, has won a personal best 22 races this season ($177,417).

He is fourth on the national junior driving premiership behind three South islanders. The top three are Rory McIlwrick (38 wins), Matt Anderson (25), and Sheree Tomlinson (23). The next highest North island juniors are Tony Cameron and Jack MacKinnon with 16 wins apiece.

But with just two meetings remaining at Alexandra Park this season, Ferguson needs four wins to equal pace-setter, Jack MacKinnon.

“I’ve beaten my previous personal best number of wins in my debut year (13 in 2013-2014), and at the start of the season it was my goal to win the North island premiership. I’m rapt I’ve almost achieved that.

“I really enjoyed winning at Forbury Park last week. I’m just glad we never raced on the Thursday. The weather was atrocious,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson drove the Kirk Larsen trained $4.10 loose favourite, Arthur Lowe, in the fifth race last Saturday, which was also a New Zealand Junior Driver's heat. He finished eighth with 24 points, but in 2014 he was runner-up behind Michelle Neilson.

“I’d been to Forbury Park before to watch races but that was my first drive. It was a different shape to what I’ve been used to but the surface was beautiful.

“The staff at Forbury need to be applauded for the way the presented the track for the Series. I really enjoyed driving there despite my second drive breaking (Noble Gamble 12th),” Ferguson said.

Ferguson, who is the son of former New Zealand Driving champion (2006-2007), Peter, has recorded his 22 wins this season at seven tracks. They have been at Manawatu 9, Alexandra Park 5, Cambridge 4, and Wairarapa, Hawera, Kapiti, and Forbury Park one win each.

Ferguson has recorded 56 career wins ($491,989) in New Zealand since he took out his driver’s licence in 2013 – all on nine different tracks. He has also driven winners at Addington and Wanganui in seasons gone by.

“It’s been a memorable season. Getting my 50th winner was satisfying. I got most of my opportunities at Manawatu and I’m delighted to have won nine races there this season.

“I want to thank all the owners and trainers who have supported me this season. I just want to keep on winning for them all. I’m very grateful and never get sick of that winning feeling,” Ferguson said.

The Waikato driver notched up his 50th win behind his boss’s (Nicky Chilcott) 4-year-old Mach Three pacer, Razor Brogden, at the Hawera Harness Racing Club's on April 15.

Ferguson nailed his first career win at Cambridge on November 17, 2013 behind the Ken Webber trained Carlos.

Then the following year he drove the Pat and Mike O'Brien trained outsider, Beckingsale to win the $25,000 North Island Country Cups Final. Ferguson was 17 at the time.

"That's been my biggest win so far. I'm rapt with the way this season has been going. I just want to keep driving winners, and if I do happen to drive for any new trainers or owners I want them to know that I have given my very best for them," the White Star employee stressed.

Ferguson had a brief stint in Australia before returning to New Zealand in 2015.

Alexandra Park Junior Drivers Premiership 2016-2017 (as of Thursday July 20 - tote races only):

Driver Starts Wins Seconds Thirds UDR

Jack MacKinnon 79 9 7 6 0.188

Sean Grayling 44 8 6 3 0.2803

Dylan Ferguson 47 5 7 8 0.2358

Rob Argue 61 5 6 5 0.1639

Tony Cameron 35 4 3 6 0.2190.

Cambridge Raceway Leading Junior Driver (final points):

1) Jack MacKinnon 23; 2) Dylan Ferguson 22; 3 ) Robert Argue 18; 4) Tony Cameron 15; 5) Mark Johnson 14.

Duane Ranger

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