Mackinnon the final qualifier for the COTY

11:29 PM 08 Jul 2014 NZST
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Jack Mackinnon - will represent the North Island in the COTY final.
Jack Mackinnon - pictured after his first training success.

North Island junior horseman, Jack Mackinnon will fly the Northern region flag in the inaugural running of the Primary ITO Cadet of the Year competition later this month after winning yesterday’s regional final in Auckland.

The 19-year-old former Mt Albert Grammar Student held off the challenge of seven of his fellow Cadets from the Northern region to claim the title and book himself a spot against Dylan Stratford, Alex Veint and Rory McIlwrick in the national final at Addington on July 30.

He finished five points clear of runner-up Michael Blakemore

In a display of consistent all round knowledge and horsemanship, MacKinnon, who is also New Zealand’s youngest licenced trainer, was in dominant form throughout the day – winning four of the six challenges set for the group.

His score of 57 in the timed driving challenge was equalled only by Mathew Salaivao while he also claimed the highest score in the general knowledge quiz, name the gear and points of the horse.

MacKinnon also finished second in the name the feed challenge and third in assembling the gear.

Harness Racing New Zealand’s Education and Training Manager, Natalie Gameson said the day followed suit from the two previous regional finals and was very successful.

But she also noted that it was important to recognise the contribution of the cadet’s employers who allowed them time off to compete in the challenge.

“Obviously something like this wouldn’t work without the support of the employers,’’ Gameson said.

“So we are thankful to them for allowing the cadets to compete in the competition.

“It’s our plan for this event to continue to grow in future years, so keeping that great support up will be key to the competition’s success.’’

Like both the Canterbury and Southern regional finals, the North Island version yesterday was of high quality with very few points separating the cadets in all of the challenges.

“The cadets today have done some great work it’s been a really good day of competition.’’

MacKinnon, Veint, Stratford and McIlwrick will all meet in Christchurch at the end of the month to compete for the overall title of Cadet of the Year and will face a new set of challenges from those they met in the regional finals.

“The Finals will be very different to what we have seen over the three days of regional finals.

“It’s going to be a very interesting day and hopefully we can get people out to watch and support the four finalists.’’

Once the competition is complete on July 30, the four cadets will have to wait until the annual Harness Racing New Zealand Awards function to find out who is crowned the first-ever Primary ITO Cadet of the Year. 

Harness Racing New Zealand

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