Day At The Track

NZ amateur drivers champs round 1

06:58 PM 22 Apr 2015 NZST
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Leaders in sponsors colours
Leaders in sponsors colours

Last Sunday saw the first two heats of the harness racing NZ Amateur Drivers Championships of 2015 held at the Rangiora Raceway with full fields of 12 runners in each heat.

Thankfully, giving the Aucklanders taking part in the races no cause to moan about the cold, the day dawned a glorious example of Canterbury Autumn weather, and the scene was set for some competitive racing. And that is just what we saw.

The first heat, over 2000 metres was a very even betting affair, with no horse standing out on the tote and some good value to be had. One of those slightly over the odds was Mark McNamara’s horse up from the Tony Barron barn, Heretic Franco. It seems that many thought that the big mares’ ‘scorched earth’ tactics that resulted in her recent Forbury win wouldn’t be repeated, but driven perfectly to instructions, Richard Sissons let the daughter of Lis Mara roll, and at the 400 metre mark, she looked home.

However, Little Lion Man, under the guidance of Danny Blakemore slowly ate into her lead up the passing lane and actually hit the front short of the post. Not to be denied though, Richard extracted another ounce of energy from his charge and she fought back bravely to take the decision in an exciting finish.

The second heat also provided a stirring finish with the two favourites fighting out a nose finish, well clear of the opposition. Daniel Reardon and Gavin Cook kept their favoured charges back off the pace while there was a spirited contest for the lead over the first 1000 metres, and then they swept up together and took over. Turning for home Daniel on Bandana led Gavin Cook on Take After Me, and after another exciting battle up the straight, just clung on for a narrow victory. All in all, two contests worthy of their Championship status.

Thanks to the generosity of the Rangiora HRC, drivers and connections of the horses involved we were then treated to a superb lunch and refreshments in a private area to renew friendships, relive their experiences, and look forward to the second round of the Championships, to be staged at Alexandra Park on Sunday 3 May.

The current standings on the New Zealand Championships Points Table is as follows:

Daniel Reardon 20

Gavin Cook    19

Steve Phillips    18

John McDermott    16

Alan Edge        15

Danny Blakemore    15

Richard Sissons    15

Jeff Darby    13

Gerry Cronin    12

Sue Blake    8

John Kriechbaumer    5

James Brownlee    2

Pete Cook

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