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Hurrell in form for NZ Champs

NZ HARNESS NEWS

Wins on consecutive nights last week reining Redwood Invasion at Addington and Omar Sharif at Forbury Park provided a timely confidence boost for junior driver Mark Hurrell, ahead of the 2018 McMillan Equine Feeds New Zealand Junior Driver Championship.

For the 20-year-old Hurrell, in just his second season of driving, the double took his career winning record to 20, to go with his 59 seconds and thirds.

Included in the victories are three at Addington, the first of which was aboard Leigh Major in August for his then-boss Brendon McLellan.

When Hurrell was only 15 and his family farmed near Wyndham, it was McLellan who introduced him to driving.

The family later moved to the Waikaka Valley beyond Gore, Hurrell attended St Peters College at Gore and when he completed his schooling, joined up with McLellan on a full-time basis.

Hurrell's second winner at Addington was Governor's Bay for trainer Tom Bagrie. Among his other wins were Editorial at Methven for Tom Bagrie and three for Peter Bagrie, Smooth Mara (twice) and Bettor's Heart.

“Peter and Tom are family friends and I'm in my second week working for them at Ohoka,” Hurrell said. “It's an ideal winter break.”

Along with Matt Anderson, Kimberly Butt, Ben Hope, John Morrison and Sheree Tomlinson, Hurrell will represent the South Island in the Championship against six from the North, while also bidding for individual honours.

The four-heat series is set down for Thursday at Forbury Park and the following night at Addington, with two races at each venue, and 12 in each.

A potential snag emerged at nomination time when only 18 entries were received for the two Forbury Park contests and 21 for Addington, leading to a plea being placed on the Harness Racing website for more entries.

Forbury Park has ended up carding two heats of 11 runners while Addington managed the full dozen in both.

Hurrell is just looking forward to the opportunities and making the most of them.

“It's the luck of the draw,” he said, “I hope I get some of it and make it go my way.”

  • NZ Harness News