Day At The Track

Top harness drivers suspended

09:00 PM 04 Feb 2021 NZDT
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Blair Orange,Harness racing
Blair Orange the current leader of the New Zealand Harness Drivers Premiership
Photo Bruce Stewart

Two of New Zealand's leading harness racing drivers face eight-week suspensions after failing blood alcohol tests at a Canterbury race meeting.

Premiership leader Blair Orange and recent Group 1-winning trainer-driver Bob Butt both returned blood alcohol breathalyser results over racing's allowed limit at the Motukarara meeting in Canterbury on January 24.

The pair were both tested before the races started and after being above the limit for harness drivers, which is lower than for drivers of a motor vehicle. Both were stood down from driving for the day.

Both men have previously failed raceday blood alcohol tests on one previous occasion and have now been handed eight-week suspensions of their racing drivers' licences.

Butt started his suspension this week while Orange starts his on Tuesday after his hearing today.

The pair will also have to see a councillor specialising in alcohol problems.

Orange is New Zealand's top harness racing driver and told the Herald he apologises to those inside the industry and punters.

"I am very remorseful over what happened and will try and make amends," he said last night.

"I went to two functions the night before and had a bit to drink and was home just after midnight, woke up feeling okay and went to work not thinking anything of it.

"So I was surprised and disappointed to blow a positive test and I am looking forward to working through how I can deal with alcohol better."

The suspension comes a few months after champion jockey Chris Johnson was also suspended for the same offence. He has since returned to racing and set a national record for wins with 2452.

 

by Michael Guerin

Courtesy of The New Zealand Herald

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