Last season amateur harness racing driver Kelly Walker reined 16 winners in 57 starts and finished with a lofty .402 UDR.
He consequentially was named the Amateur Driver of the Year by the US Harness Writers Association.
Later this week the Michigan farmer will be winging his way to compete as the USA representative in the prestigious World Cup of Amateur Racing which will be contested in at three different racetracks in New Zealand. As a member of the North American Amateur Drivers Association Walker is looking forward to the competitions. “I’ve driven in New Zealand in Friendship Competitions in the past and I’m familiar with their style of racing,” Walker said. “I’m optimistic about my chances and feel confident that I will make a good showing. Hey, I’m not going there to participate...…I’m going there to win.”
However, Walker will have his work cut out for him as he’ll be driving against the best amateurs drivers from the 11 other countries which will comprise the field of this year’s World Cup.
Besides the USA the countries that will be competing include: the Netherlands, Norway, Germany, Russia, Czech Republic, Spain, Denmark, The Ukraine; Belgium, France and of course, New Zealand.
The World Cup events in New Zealand—and there will be some special ones planned -- will begin on Wednesday, January 18 and continue through Sunday, January 22.
According to Joe Faraldo, the president of NAADA who’ll be accompanying Walker on the trip , there will be six driving contests during the five-day period . The first driving events will be on Thursday, January 19th with two races slated at Alexandra Park in Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand located on the North Island. The next day the drivers travel to Christchurch, on the south Island where two races are scheduled at Addington Race Track where New Zealand harness racing commenced way back in 1899. Today, Addington is the home of their greatest harness race , the New Zealand Cup.
The final contests will be raced at picturesque Motukarara Raceway, a 30-minute jaunt from Christchurch where the drivers will be competing on a 1800 meter grass track.
On the off days the Kiwis’ have a series of special events for the large traveling contingent some of which includes, harbor cruises, Jet boating on the Waiau River and special lunches and dinners.
For those interested in following the results of the World Cup of Amateur Racing events go to www.hrnz.co.nz and select race results then select the race meeting desired. The videos are usually posted 30mins after the race has been run. Sorry but there will be no live streaming.