Aussies upstage trans-Tasman rivals in IRT New Zealand Cup
By Jonny Turner
The king’s reign extended to Australasia when Jason Grimson added the name of one-time battler Swayzee into the history books of New Zealand’s most prestigious harness race.
Known as King Grimmo to some of his fans, Grimson continued his incredible rise as a trainer with the help of an outstanding tactical driver from his fellow countryman Cam Hart to win the New Zealand Cup at Addington on Tuesday.
Thanks to Hart’s brilliant early manoeuvring and Swayzee making a swift beginning, Swayzee left his New Zealand rivals in his dust as he emerged the winner of a stellar battle with the favourite Akuta.
Swayzee made his crucially fast beginning as a standing-start novice facing the pressure and noise of a bumper Addington crowd.
Following his brilliant win, Grimson was quick to remind harness racing fans that many questioned the horse’s manners pre-race.
“Yeah, he got away beautifully,’’ Grimson said in his post-race interview.
“He shut up the haters and the doubters.”
“They didn’t think he would get away – it was a good drive; he got him in the perfect spot early. Yeah, he was just too good.’’
Previously unable to put his hoof in the till at backwater country tracks like Warragul and Redcliffe, Swayzee has transformed into a winning machine for Grimson and Hart.
After coming under Grimson’s care, Swayzee has won nine of his nine starts and all but confirmed his status as Australasia’s best pacer with his New Zealand Cup victory.
"It is a good feeling,’’ Grimson said.
“It is not our thing to come over here, with standing starts and that.
Though he is a certified superstar of the sport, by his own admission before the race, Hart was once an unheralded “boy from country New South Wales”.
But he too confirmed his superstar status to New Zealand fans with his brilliant handling of Swayzee.
The pair settled in front of Akuta and Mark Purdon early, and there was no way Hart was going to give away that advantage once it was established.
Akuta moved into the race to track Swayzee before the home turn, but ultimately it was the Aussie who claimed victory.
Beach Ball was next across the line in third with American Me fourth.