Day At The Track

Smith cracks the big one!

10:07 PM 09 Jun 2016 NZST
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Craig Smith.jpg
Craig Smith

Canterbury based Harness Racing Junior Driver Craig Smith's past month in the sport have involved one of the worst days, and now the best day of his career so far.

3 weeks ago, Ohoka Benson who was part owned by Smith, sustained a life ended injury at Timaru. The loss of his good mate 'Ben' hit him hard but the stable rallied around Craig, and soon he was back to the smiling and laughing Craig Smith everyone knows.

"The support from everyone after losing Ben was awesome and Nigel Armstrong gifted me a 50% share in Vanhalem, so that's the reason I'm driving him. I owe this win to him and the rest of the Syndicate members" said Smith.

Smith picked up his first driving success from just the 29 career drives aboard the Robert Dunn trained Vanhalem at Forbury Park tonight.

Shuffled back early after the start from barrier 1, Smith soon had the 5yo Santanna Blue Chip gelding off the pegs and into the 1x1 position before again being shuffled back.

Down the back Craig was able to push out and get a lovely drag into the race behind Blair Orange and Really Desirable, before just being able to hold on from a fast finishing Jessica Young and Real Raider.

Vanhalem is owned by the Westview Racing No 15 Syndicate, which is run by Nigel Armstrong, who is a large supporter of the Robert Dunn barn and Craig.

From just the 4 drives behind Vanhalem, Smith has recorded a 3rd, a 10th, a 2nd and now a win.

Not having any family involved in Harness Racing didn't stop Craig getting involved in the industry.

“I went along to the races one day with a bunch of school mates and liked what I saw, so I looked up some stables and asked around.  Most people told me Robert & John were some of the best, so I rang up and asked for a job” said Smith.

"I wasn't too worried about how long it took to get my first win, being out there and gaining experience was what I was after"

"I'd love to thank everyone over the last few years who have given me advice, especially John. Being able to learn off John and Dexter each day has been a huge help to my driving".

Craig has been employed by Dunn for approximately 3 years and has had stints with the satellite stable up in Auckland, but is currently in charge of a team of 7-8 runners based out of Martin Denton's property in Mosgiel.

"Marty has been great, the team are going super at the moment, I just hope it continues"

Dunn also picked up another two wins with Music and Mr Meddle saluting the judge, both were driven by son Dexter.

With the support of John & Robert Dunn this certainly won't be Craig's last winner, we look forward to following him over the following seasons.

Andrew Fitzgerald

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