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TALENTED young horseman Sean Grayling has no regrets about leaving his native New Zealand to chance his arm as a reinsman in Sydney. The 25-year-old has called Australia home for four years now after growing up on the North Island of New Zealand in Pukekohe, a 40-minute drive from Auckland. “My Dad Tony breaks-in, educates and trains a team of anywhere up to 20 horses over there,” said Grayling. “He has educated many horses for champion trainer Barry Purdon over the years which led me to going to work for the prominent stable at Cleavedon after I left school at 17. “To date I have driven 120 winners, which includes 12 metropolitan wins at Tabcorp Park Menangle. “I had driven 25 winners back home before heading over here to try my luck.” Grayling moved to Sydney in 2017 and for the first eight months worked for Kevin Pizzuto at Rossmore in the city’s west. He then made the move to work for the Fitzpatrick family at their Jay Jay Farm establishment at Cawdor, which is close to Menangle. “Working for Kev was fantastic,” said Grayling. “I got to learn so much from him and it provided me with a lot of opportunities. “But when the offer came from the Fitzpatricks to go and work for them, I never hesitated as our friendship stemmed back to the days when I was working with Barry. “The move has been really good as the whole family have been nothing short of great to me.  “I get to drive many of their nice horses, and they allow me to train my own horse out of their farm, which I am really grateful for.”  That horse happens to be the entire Pump The Brakes, who last week recorded his 16th career win and the second since Grayling purchased him. “I was lucky enough to pick up a metro win with my fellow last Saturday night, his second win in town for us,” said Grayling. The young reinsman will head across to Penrith on Thursday night where he has four drives. “All the horses I am driving are well in the market,” he said. “I really like the chances of Lucky Beach Boy in Race 2. “He has drawn the back line, but he has really come into his own winning his past two at Penrith and he will be hard to beat again, for sure.”   HRNSW MEDIA

Talented young harness racing horseman Sean Grayling has no regrets about leaving his native New Zealand to chance his arm as a reinsman in Sydney. The 25-year-old has called Australia home for four years now after growing up on the North Island of New Zealand in Pukekohe, a 40-minute drive from Auckland. “My Dad Tony breaks-in, educates and trains a team of anywhere up to 20 horses over there,” said Grayling. “He has educated many horses for champion trainer Barry Purdon over the years which led me to going to work for the prominent stable at Cleavedon after I left school at 17. “To date I have driven 120 winners, which includes 12 metropolitan wins at Tabcorp Park Menangle. “I had driven 25 winners back home before heading over here to try my luck.” Grayling moved to Sydney in 2017 and for the first eight months worked for Kevin Pizzuto at Rossmore in the city’s west. He then made the move to work for the Fitzpatrick family at their Jay Jay Farm establishment at Cawdor, which is close to Menangle. “Working for Kev was fantastic,” said Grayling. “I got to learn so much from him and it provided me with a lot of opportunities. “But when the offer came from the Fitzpatricks to go and work for them, I never hesitated as our friendship stemmed back to the days when I was working with Barry. “The move has been really good as the whole family have been nothing short of great to me.  “I get to drive many of their nice horses, and they allow me to train my own horse out of their farm, which I am really grateful for.”  That horse happens to be the entire Pump The Brakes, who last week recorded his 16th career win and the second since Grayling purchased him. “I was lucky enough to pick up a metro win with my fellow last Saturday night, his second win in town for us,” said Grayling. To watch the video replay of Pump The Brakes click here The young reinsman will head across to Penrith on Thursday night where he has four drives. “All the horses I am driving are well in the market,” he said. “I really like the chances of Lucky Beach Boy in Race 2. “He has drawn the back line, but he has really come into his own winning his past two at Penrith and he will be hard to beat again, for sure.” HRNSW MEDIA

A BITING westerly wind might have played its part in driving tactics but it didn’t diminish the bumper crowd in attendance following the highly successful Alabar Breeders Challenge Regional Finals at Bathurst on Sunday. And the outstanding race card, featuring six $30,000 Group 3 Finals provided a perfect opportunity for  the official re-naming of the complex -complete with an impressive new winning post - as “Gold Crown Paceway, Bathurst”. New South Wales Racing Minister Paul Toole was joined for that announcement by Harness Racing NSW Board members Rod Smith, Peter Nugent and Ken Brown,  Alan Galloway and Paul Robinson from series sponsor Alabar Bloodstock, HRNSW Chief Executive John Dumesny and Bathurst Club President Wayne Barker. No-one was sporting a wider smile at day’s end than HRNSW chairman Rod Smith. In large part from the outstanding success of the meetin, but made even more personally satisfying when Lexus With A View, which he co-owns with John Starr, took out the Auckland Reactor 3YO Colts and Geldings Final. Driver Sean Grayling and the Paul Fitzpatrick - trained gelding, followed Premier Joy across from a wide draw on the front line to initially occupy the 'death seat' outside that horse, and his tactics played out perfectly when Brads Luck, and subsequently  Squire, moved around to that position. He was content to remain in the trail for as long as possible, especially when the third quarter was dispatched in 27.5s - into that energy-sapping wind - before launching a strong run down the centre of the track to reel in Premier Joy and Squire close to the line. As with each of the finals, the race itself was extremely competitive and the winner boasted excellent bloodlines - by Somebeachsomewhere out of a NSW Broodmare of the Year in Panoramic Lady, whose eight winners, six in 1:55, include Derby winner Make Me Smile, Sires Stakes champion Cant Bluff Me and outstanding racemare Lady Lexus. Racing Minister Toole, in making the presentation, spoke of the absolute dedication shown by the Chairman who “turns up unannounced at race meetings big and small right around the state. His commitment to the harness racing industry is just outstanding.” Alabar principal Alan Galloway, on his first visit to the new Bathurst complex, was very impressed to learn about Smith’s Lexus-named horses, having driven against the likes of Craig Lowndes in motor-racing some years ago. Unsurprisingly, he did a lap of “The Mountain” and paid a visit to the Motor Racing Museum on this present visit. Finals winners were: Art Major 2YO Fillies - Taylors Mill ( Bernie Hewitt ), a very tough win, sitting in the death seat for most of the race, and a deserved one as well, placing fifth in the Group 1 final and fourth in the Blues final in her two previous starts. Betterthancheddar 2YO Colts and Geldings - Major Roll ( Stephen Maguire ), a lovely drive from the Mirrool ( near Narrandera ) reinsman, working into the race courtesy of a three-wide trail, to score his fifth win from eight lifetime starts. Shadow Play 3YO Fillies - Art Series (Amanda Turnbull for Steve ), another driver to obtain a three-wide trail in a race where the speed was on throughout, with the daughter of champion mare Sheezallattitude backing up to take the 2YO/3YO double for this series. Lincoln Royal 4YO Mares - Million Dollar Gem ( John O’Shea for Wagga trainer Brett Woodhouse ), a patient drive on the mare which took out the Honouree Stakes Final at this track back in March, and which brought up a double for Million Dollar Cam after the earlier win of Taylors Mill. Sunshine Beach  4YO Entires and Geldings - Geldof (Blake Jones for Ellen Bartley ), improved from an excellent third in the semi-final to lead throughout, in a 1:53 clip, easily the day’s quickest and outstanding in the conditions, for a most deserving Canberra owner-breeder Don Spedding. Congratulations to all the connections and breeders of the Regional champs, and to HRNSW and the Bathurst club whose staging of the event - down to gorgeous winners’ garlands and owners’wine packs with labels showing the horse’s victory - was first rate. Terry Neil

With exactly half of the 2016-2017 harness racing season now behind us, an Australian-based Kiwi could nail the ‘Junior Driver’s Premiership’ at Alexandra Park. The Auckland Trotting Club’s Racing Manager, Regan Cotter, released the latest premiership tables at ‘The Park’ this week, and New South Wales based Sean Grayling has a four-win lead over Pukekohe driver, Jack MacKinnon. “To win the premiership in just five months would be the perfect way to leave New Zealand. It would be a dream come true. I’d be rapt to hold on and win it because I always enjoyed driving at Alexandra Park. It would mean a lot,” Grayling said. “There’s just more driving opportunities over here though,” he added. Grayling left Barry Purdon’s Clevedon stables on January 1, after three-and-a-half years with the Hall-of-Famer. He is now employed by Kevin Pizzuto at Leppington. “We have a lot more meetings (three to four a week) to drive at over here. I’ve had six drives in the last four days. Kevin works a team of about 30 and has some nice horses in his stable, including the open class pacer, Tiger Tara. “You are a claimer over here until you get 250 wins, so I’ve got another 220 to go. Life is great here. I can’t see me coming back in a hurry – if at all. “There’s also more money to be made through driving over here,” the former Pukekohe High School student said. Grayling has driven two winners since he crossed the Tasman last month – one at Newcastle and the other at Goulburn last Sunday. “Driving the former Kiwi pacer Sketching to win on Sunday was a bit special, because that was my 21st birthday. "I'm still learning to adjust to the driving style over here. They are a bit more aggressive and not scared to sit three-wide and parked. That's how I won my first race over here," Grayling said. The former Kiwi said he enjoyed working for Pizzuto because he was a “straight talker”. “He’s not afraid to say what he thinks and I respect that with him. There’s no back-stabbing there. He will tell me exactly how it is and I like that because that is the only way to learn,” said Grayling. The three Alexandra Park premierships (top 5) currently read: JUNIOR DRIVERS: 1) Sean Grayling - 8 wins, 9 placings, 44 starts, 0.2803 UDR strike-rate. 2) Jack MacKinnon - 4 wins, 6 placings, 35 starts, 0.1905 UDR. 3) Dylan Ferguson - 2 wins, 9 placings, 26 starts, 0.2265 UDR. 4) Robert Argue - 2 wins, 7 placings, 32 starts, 0.1563 UDR. 5) Andrew Drake – 1 win, 3 placings, 16 starts, 0.1389 UDR. OPEN DRIVERS: 1) David Butcher - 17 wins, 30 placings, 114 starts, 0.2680 UDR. 2) Tony Herlihy (MNZM) - 16 wins, 24 placings, 104 starts, 0.2564 UDR. 3) Maurice McKendry – 16 wins, 20 placings, 107 starts, 0.2243 UDR. 4) Zac Butcher – 14 wins, 35 placings, 104 starts, 0.2767 UDR. 5) Josh Dickie – 11 wins, 14 placings, 65 starts, 0.2650 UDR. TRAINERS: 1) Barry Purdon - 17 wins, 35 placings, 98 starts, 0.3333 UDR. 2) Tony Herlihy (MNZM) - 16 wins, 19 placings, 78 starts, 0.3063 UDR. 3) Mark Purdon & Natalie Rasmussen - 12 wins, 8 placings, 34 starts, 0.4641 UDR. 4) John & Josh Dickie - 12 wins, 18 placings, 68 starts, 0.3007 UDR. 5) Robert Dunn – 9 wins, 10 placings, 61 starts, 0.2168 UDR. Duane Ranger

Sean Grayling even had an ‘Australia going away party’ at his boss Barry Purdon’s home, but talks with his employer has resulted in last-minute change of mind. Grayling who has been working for Barry Purdon at Clevedon for the last five years, was scheduled to start work with New South Wales trainer Paul Fitzpatrick at his Camden Stables on Monday October 10. But the 20-year-old is going nowhere. After hosting his farewell party on October 1, Purdon sat down with Grayling and asked him about his timing. “Sean had another good think about it. He’s the leading junior driver at the moment and he’s getting a few drives. “I personally think that going right now wouldn’t be the smartest move, so Sean is going to leave it until next July and go then,” Purdon said. The Hall-of-Fame horsemen said it will do Grayling ‘the world of good’ to go somewhere else and see how other people did things, but believed going now was not the right time. “It’s best to wait another eight or nine months and get more established first. His junior claim would could run out here and I think it would start up again in Australia going into next season,” Purdon said. Grayling agreed with his boss saying he wanted to give the Junior Premiership and New Zealand and Australasia driving titles a real nudge in what is likely to be his last or second last season as a junior reinsman. Grayling has driven 20 winners from 194 starts since 2013. He’s also placed 44 times for $187,629. His UDR strike rate currently sits at 0.1982. Grayling’s has saluted the judge five times this season and is three wins clear of the second-placed North Island juniors, Robert Argue and Andrew Drake. Mosgiel horseman Rory McIlwrick is currently the leading junior driver in New Zealand with nine wins. Duane Ranger

The continuing trend of junior drivers wanting to pursue their careers across the Tasman has hit again – this time with the North Island’s leading junior, Sean Grayling. The 20-year-old, who has been with Barry Purdon for the last five years, will start working with New South Wales trainer Paul Fitzpatrick at his Camden Stables on October 10. Grayling will leave Purdon on October 7 and will have his last New Zealand drives at the Auckland Trotting Club’s meeting later that night. He said he was excited about the prospect of working in a new country. Grayling also liked the idea that there were up to eight meetings a week in New South Wales compared to one, maybe two per week, in the North Island. Fitzpatrick is a top Australian harness racing trainer with experience dating back several decades. He is a member of the exclusive five-strong 'Harold Park Living Legends Club'. He also raced Australian Horse-of-the-Year Lombo Pocket Watch and currently works a team of 35 south-west of Sydney. “I mentioned it to Paul in passing when I was over there with Sky Major and Start Dreaming in February. It’s something I have always wanted to do. “Then Gavin (Fitzpatrick) rang me out of the blue last month saying one of their staff had left and the opportunity had come up. “I’ve thought long and hard about it and I spoke to Dad (Tony) and Barry about the move and they agreed with my decision. I felt the time was right to do it. I came straight from school to Barry and Katrina’s and I have learnt so much working at their stable. I am forever grateful,” Grayling said. Grayling, who has never driven better than what he has this season, looked destined to beat his personal best tally of 15 wins this season. He achieved his first driving double at ‘The Park’ on August 26. But instead Grayling is now one of several New Zealand junior drivers who have made the move across the ditch in recent years, and one of dozens in years gone by who have preceded him. More recently Joe Moka, Jacob Wallace, Dylan Ferguson, Fergus Schumacher, Shane Butcher, Nathan Purdon, Emmett Brosnan, Michael Purdon and Michael Blakemore are just some Kiwi juniors who have either departed these shores for Australia, and have remained there, or have returned. Even Dexter Dunn did a stint in Australia and then returned home. Matty White went to Perth and stayed there so what does Hall-Of-Famer Purdon think of Grayling’s move? “I’ll miss him when he’s gone but it’s something he’s been wanting to do for a while now. It will be good for him to experience something new especially now that he’s going to a very good stable. “Sean thinks there will be a few more opportunities for his driving over there and I hope there is. He is driving well now and getting out on track more which certainly helps improve his driving. But this has been on his mind for a while now and it’s best he gets out of his system and gets over there and give it a real crack. He can always come home again,” Purdon said. “Sean worked hard for us and I wish him all the best and hope he does really well,” he added. Heading into this Friday’s (September 30) meeting at Alexandra Park. Grayling was the leading North Island junior driver this season with four wins and two seconds from 20 drives – two clear of Andrew Drake. It was his best start to a season and even he admits it is going to be hard saying goodbye to ‘Northern Headquarters’ on Friday week. “The junior claiming rule helped a little bit, and even though it was hard to get outside drives at Alexandra Park and Cambridge, it’s still going to be hard leaving Auckland. It’s all I’ve known really, but when I was in Australia I absolutely loved it,” Grayling said. Grayling gets his chance to drive in his first Spring Cup on Friday night when he will steer the Purdon trained The Faithful. He also has a drive behind the Ray Darby trained Bro Fawkes S in the first race. They were the two horses that provided him with his first and only ‘driving double’ last month. “It’s an honour to drive in a big race for Barry. In fact driving in any race in his colours was big for me. The Faithful is so honest and you can never write him off. “I am thankful for all the drives Barry has given me. I’m also thankful to Zac (Butcher) for his driving advice as well. You never stop learning at that place,” Grayling said. The former Pukekohe High School student said he was looking forward to working with the Fitzpatricks' and their 35-strong team. “I’m excited because it is something new and something different. The stable is only 15 minutes away from Menangle and that’s the top track in New South Wales. “I really liked what I saw when I went over there. I’m going to another top stable. They have their own track as well. It will be a real learning curve there as well. I think the experience will do me the world of good,” Grayling said. Grayling paid a tribute to all those who had supported him especially his father, Amanda Kiddie, and his sponsor who would continue to support him in Australia - John Harris from JGH Chartered Accountants. Grayling has achieved 19 winners, 19 seconds, and 20 thirds ($177,411) from 187 starters since getting his licence in 2013-2014. His URD strike-rate is 0.1937.   Duane Ranger

Sean Grayling couldn’t have wished for a better start to the season. The 20-year-old nailed his first driving double and achieved his most memorable win at Alexandra Park last Friday night. He now has two wins from nine drives this season and is well on the way to achieving his season target of 15. “Last season was my best with nine wins, but none of them were as rewarding as winning behind The Faithful last Friday. Zac (Butcher) and I cleared out and I managed to hold him out by a neck. There were more than five lengths back to the third horse. “Stablemate Arden’s Choice was the favourite and we got the run to hold him out. Zac is a real inspiration. He always gives me good advice and I like to listen to what he has got to say because he’s one of the best going around,” Grayling said. “In saying that we are both so competitive and love to beat each other at anything – table tennis, pool, squash and even touch rugby. You name it,” he added. Grayling and Butcher are employed by Barry and Katrina Purdon at Clevedon. After almost five years working for the Hall-of-Fame horseman, Grayling still pricks himself regularly to see if he still has his ‘job from heaven’. “I wouldn’t want to be working for anyone else. This is where I want to be. Every single day I learn something new with Barry. You can see why he’s one of the greatest. He gives so much attention to detail and is not afraid to pull me aside and give me advice. “I will never stop listening to him. On race-nights he usually comes up to me and talks to me about my drives. Dad (Tony) is my biggest supporter but sometimes he is kinder to me with advice simply because he’s my father. “Barry isn’t like that. He says it like it is and at the same time isn’t afraid to praise you when you do well,” said Grayling. The South Auckland junior also drove the Ray Darby trained Bro Fawkes S to win the first event last Friday. “I’ve been driving for just over three seasons now and that was my first double. I’m also very thankful to Ray for his continued support of me. Amanda Kiddie has also been very loyal to me. She has been huge. “In fact I want to thank all the trainers and owners who have the confidence to put me on their horses. I’m learning and improving all the time and have the best possible mentor to point me in the right direction,” the former Pukekohe High School student said. “My double came a month after the anniversary of my Mum’s passing four years ago. I still feel very close to her and she’s always on my mind. I know she is always with me and that gives me great satisfaction,” Grayling said. Grayling has a chance to further his season tally when he gets behind the Kiddie trained Brookby Prince (race 4) and the Purdon trained Aliante (race 7) at Alexandra Park this Friday night. “Aliante has won her last two starts and rates a good chance while Brookby Prince has drawn well and is having his second run back after a six-month spell. “I always drive to win. I’m a competitor and every time I get in the bike I only have sights on saluting the judge. “My target is 15 wins this season and of course I would love to qualify for the New Zealand and Australasia Champs. I only just missed out on the New Zealands last year so I’m determined to qualify this season,” said Grayling. “But one of my main targets is to win the Alexandra Park Junior Driving Premiership. I wasn’t happy with where I finished last season and really want to win it in 2016-2017,” he added. Grayling won five races at Alexandra Park last season and finished fifth behind Jack MacKinnon, Kyle Marshall, Andre Poutama, and Tony Cameron.   Duane Ranger

It was appropriate that Sean Grayling drove his first winner on the Pukekohe grass yesterday. After all he grew up with horses at his father’s Pukekohe stable, and learnt to drive at Counties Kidz Kartz just across the road at the Franklin track. It was also a just reward for the 18-year-old who on October 10 last year broke his wrist in a race-fall at Cambridge Raceway. He was rushed to Waikato Hospital and was out of action until December 29. That was just his sixth race-day drive. He’s now had 19 drives for one win, two seconds and a third. Grayling, last year’s North Island Cadet Rising Star Award winner, won behind the Tony Grayling (Dad) trained Brookby Prince. The Monarchy bay gelding was the sixth favourite and paid $14.90 to win the $5,500 Tony and Anne Parker Trot. He got the 5-year-old away quickly from his 30m handicap and was fifth in the running line early before lobbing into the one-one. They then loomed up three-wide on the turn to win by 1-3/4 lengths from the favourite Handoverdakash and Tony Herlihy (MNZM). Roughie It’s Big Time (Phil Butcher) was 2-3/4 lengths back in third. It was Brookby Prince’s second win from 32 starts. She trotted the 2300m stand in 3:08.1. Mile rate: 2:11.5. Last 800m: 64.4 and final 400m in 32.6. “He was going real strong at the top of the straight. That’s when I thought this could be my first win. It was a great feeling all right,” said Grayling who is sponsored by JGH Chartered Accountants. Grayling dedicated the win to his late mother Anne, who passed away on July 24, 2012. He also thanked his father and employer Barry Purdon for everything he has learnt in the sulky. “I’m sure Mum would have been watching down on me. She encouraged my driving. I really miss her. I also want to thank Dad and Barry. They have been so supportive,” Grayling said. “I’d also like to thank the owners Steve and Karen Dunn for having the faith in me to drive Brookby Prince the whole time,” he added. He said he loved harness racing especially being employed by Hall-Of-Famer, Purdon. “I’ve learnt so much working here. In fact you never stop learning. It’s not hard to see why Barry is a master trainer. He’s a legend. “Zac (Butcher) also works here so I’m working alongside the best people and the best horses,” he said. Grayling was born in Pukekohe and left Pukekohe High School at the end of Year 11 to join the Purdon barn in December 2011. “It was such a great feeling to win. Super in fact! It might have come a lot earlier had I not been out for 10 weeks,” said Grayling who is also a loose forward in rugby, and brilliant cricket fielder and lower order batsman. Grayling said his goal for the remainder of the season was to land a “couple” more winners and then one day to try and one day qualify for the New Zealand Junior Driving Championships, and then ultimately the Australasian Junior Finals. “I’ve got a long way to go yet, but I’m really enjoying what I do. I have wanted to be a harness racing driver for as long as I can remember. I’m leaving my dream,” Grayling said. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

Junior reinsman Sean Grayling is currently recovering in Waikato Hospital after suffering a broken wrist after being dislodged from the cart by La Norvic De Milo, who ran out of racing room and fell in the second race at Cambridge last night. “It was a shame because it had been a good drive before El Success started stopping on him at a huge rate of knots,” said Sean’s father, Tony. “He has also got a fair bit of skin off his face but apart from that he is in good spirits. Just very very sore,” he added. Stewards interviewed horsemen Peter Ferguson and Arna Donnelly. Both stated that La Norvic De Milo did not make contact with either sulky. Due to the unavailability of Sean Grayling the stewards adjourned an enquiry. Grayling, who was recently awarded the North Island Cadet Ring Star Award, said that his memory of the events was slightly foggy. The young ambitious reinsman said that he was gutted to miss out on the drive on Destined To Take, who finished a narrow second later in the night for replacement driver Tony Cameron. “He missed the start, and then got humped three-wide down the back, so it was a big run,” said Grayling. Grayling, who is employed by Destined To Take’s trainer Barry Purdon, said that he has been told that his wrist will take 5-6 weeks to heal and that he may still need surgery on it.  Grayling was having his sixth career drive on La Norvic De Milo last night. He has already notched up two seconds and is a former Kidz Kartz Premiership winning driver, so something tells me when he does get back out on the track, he won’t be long out of the winners circle. Meanwhile, the feature pace of the night at Cambridge was taken out by the John and Josh Dickie trainer Lively Nights, who peeled off some slick sectionals to hold off Bettor Romance and Underwood Road. By Mitchell Robertson

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