News

Four good drives for Harrison

NZ HARNESS NEWS

It’s amazing what being a national champion can do for your profile. Just ask Alicia Harrison.

The Cambridge junior driver, winner of last month’s New Zealand Junior Drivers Championship, has come up with four plum drives at Alexandra Park’s meeting tonight.

Chief among them is last season’s Group 1 Queen of Hearts co-winner, Jo’s Dream, who starts off a 20-metre handicap in a five-horse field.

Harrison also continues her association with last start winners Prime Silver and Phoebe Gem and has picked up the steer behind classy north newcomer, Its Official Babe.

It’s a happy bonus for Harrison, who is just starting her second full season of driving based with trainer Arna Donnelly.

“Without a doubt, it’s great to have the support of outside trainers and it’s all a bit unexpected,” she said.

When Jo’s Dream’s trainer, Amanda Kiddie, opted for Harrison’s junior claim to get a 10-metre let-up in the handicaps, the young driver could barely believe it.

“She messaged me when I was asleep and when I woke up and saw it, I was like ‘oh my God’, that’s pretty exciting.

“She’s a very nice mare and I’m very lucky to have been offered the drive.”

Her customary gate speed won’t be a factor this week and Harrison is mindful of how races with small fields often pan out.

“I think she’s pretty good away, without being great, and I guess the plan will be to settle handy with a sit.

“These small fields can be funny, tactical races, where the leader can walk them and they all sort of sprint home together.”

Prime Silver has been the winter revelation in the north, with three wins and three placings since Donnelly started looking after her for Thames-based co-owner and former trainer, Rachel Holmes.

It’s a rise in grade this week, but the team behind her are very happy.

“She’s in great form and has worked on really well; Arna and I are both really happy with her.

“Her times have been good and she likes being out in front rolling along, so the gate speed of Three Kisses will be key to our chances.”

Its Official Babe was a barnstorming winner at Addington in late June and has joined West Auckland trainers Frank Cooney and Tate Hopkins after being purchased by American buyers.

“That last run down south was pretty good. She’s run a massive quarter and come from last to win.

“She won easily and hopefully we can get a good drag in to it from that back-row draw this week.

“I had a wee chat to (her previous driver) Matty Williamson and he said being saved for one run at them is her go.”

Harrison drove Phoebe Gem to victory a fortnight ago in what was her first drive behind the Monarchy trotter.

Trainers Dave and Clare McGowan have stuck with her this week and she thinks she can go close to repaying their faith again.

“I actually think she’s a really good chance. She should get going off the front with her good manners and settle handy, which is where you need to be.

“It’s a much better field than last time, but Bar Room Brawl will probably have to do a bit of work off the handicap.

“Hopefully we can make it tough for him by stepping and running.

“I actually quite like her chances this week and I think she could be a nice value option.”