Day At The Track

Sharing the prize

09:30 AM 09 Feb 2017 NZDT
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The Scruff and Dylan Ferguson

Waikato junior reinsmen, Ben Butcher and Dylan Ferguson, have won the North Island Trainers and Drivers Association’s Summer Series.

The duo finished tied with 14 points – one more than fellow Cambridge driver, Mark Johnson.

The juniors competed at five meetings starting at the Waipa meeting at Te Awamutu on December 28 and finishing at Tauranga on February 5.

Northern Branch secretary, Dave Neal, said the Series was run in conjunction with Harness Racing Waikato with 14 juniors taking part.

“It went right down to the wire with the Series not being decided until the last race. The first three all drove well, but others did make an impression as well.

“Tony Cameron was one such driver, who only drove in two races for two victories, and Alicia Harrison who also only drove in the last two races for a first and a second,” Neal said.

He said the North Island Trainers and Drivers Association were appreciative of the support given to these races by trainers, owners, and Harness Racing Waikato, which embraced the concept and ensured the races went ahead.

“The standard of driving by our younger members made for an exciting finish. We want to maintain the support for our junior members who are the future of our industry.

“We look forward to another series later this year. A presentation to the top three drivers will be made at a meeting later this month. They will receive gift vouchers courtesy of Rebel Sport and the Trainers and Drivers Association.

Ferguson was delighted with his victory.

“I didn't even realise I had won. It was great to win it because the trainers and drivers have really got behind the junior drivers. They have got races off the ground and sponsored the series which we are all grateful for.

“It shows how competitive we all are with Ben and I dead-heating and then only small margins back to the next few drivers. Thanks very much,” Ferguson said.

Butcher was also rapt.

“It’s always good to win any race but this is a bonus. I just want to thank the Association and especially everyone who put me on their horses.

“Big thanks go to Todd Macfarlane and his team for initiating the Series. I had some nice drives. I would also like to thank Dad (David Butcher) for supporting me as well.

“I love driving and I love winning. I am rapt to have won this,” Butcher said.

Macfarlane, the Association chairman, said the purpose of the Series was to give the juniors more opportunities.

“We have a bit of sympathy for the juniors out there. There’s not a lot of opportunities for them and hopefully the series gave them a chance to accumulate points for National and Australasian competitions next year,” he said.

Macfarlane said the points were allocated: five for first, four for second, three for third, four for fourth, and then one point for every other driver who lined up.

“We just wanted to give something back to the industry and our committee believed this was the best option,” Pukekohe-based Macfarlane said.

The Series was run on both grass and all-weather tracks.

“It gave the young men and women a chance to get out in the middle more and at this stage of their careers, that’s all they need to improve. They are our future and we are pleased that we could be involved,” said Macfarlane.

Final points were:

1st= Ben Butcher and Dylan Ferguson 14. 3rd Mark Johnson 13. 4th Tony Cameron 10. 5th Alicia Harrison 9. 6th Andrew Drake 6. 7th = Sean Grayling and Fergus Schumacher 5. 9th Jack MacKinnon 4. 10th = Trent Lethaby and Jacob Wallace 3. 12th Robert Argue 2. 13th Andrew Fitzgerald 1.

Duane Ranger

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