DeFilippi joins 2000 club


Master reinsman Colin DeFilippi wasted no time landing his 2000th NZ driving win at Addington on Friday, September 8.

In his first drive for the night, he produced a customary magical drive on Izmok, a horse he co-owns and co-trains with wife Julie, to reach the milestone.

The same horse had provided DeFilippi with his 1999th at Addington on August 18, when he also positioned him perfectly behind the leaders before edging past them in the run home.

DeFilippi became the sixth New Zealand driver to join the 2000m club, joining Tony Herlihy, Maurice McKendry, Ricky May, David Butcher and Dexter Dunn, the latter becoming the youngest at Addington on July 8.

He displayed a rare show of emotion with a controlled salute at the finish.

The first of many to offer their congratulations to the popular Canterbury reinsman was former employee Sam Ottley, driving runner-up Michelle, 200 metres after the finish.

DeFilippi was welcomed back to happy scenes at the presentation area by wife and training partner, Julie, daughter Mandy, and long-time family friend, Kerryn Corbett.

He knew the milestone would come but it had proven elusive in recent weeks.

DeFilippi, who turned 65 in May, followed in the footsteps of his brother Michael, also a very successful reinsman, who drove over 1161 winners before officially retiring from race-driving four years ago.

Colin gained his first driving win behind Brother Eden, trained by his father Rod, in a one-win pace at Greymouth 43 years ago.

He says race-driving had changed over the years.

"Now you have got to be up there because they don't come back to you like they used to," said DeFilippi.

He achieved the lifetime ambition of every driver by winning the 2001 New Zealand Cup with top mare Kym's Girl, who he co-trained with wife Julie.

"You always want to win a New Zealand Cup but it’s just one race," he said.

"Courage Under Fire (former champion two and three-year-old pacer, trained by good friend Bruce Negus) was very good because he lasted two years (being unbeaten for his first 24 starts and winning a record six Derbys)."

"Going to Australia with Stent (2015 Australasian Grand Circuit trot champion he co-trains) then coming home to win the Rowe Cup was pretty good too."

"And Our Mana, even though he didn't win a New Zealand Cup, he ran second in it twice and was a good horse to have when I was getting started," he said.

He won the NZ Drivers Premiership in 2006 with 121 wins, 22 years after a premiership second to Peter Wolfenden, and has regularly featured among the top 10 on the drivers premiership.

DeFilippi, who has driven five winners on a single programme on three occasions, finished second to Belgian Christophe Martens in the 2007 World Drivers Championship, when held in Australasia.

He is an inductee in both the New Zealand Trotting Hall of Fame and Addington Harness Hall of Fame