Big milestone for McKendry
By Dave Di Somma - Harness News Desk
With all the attention on racing’s return post COVID-19 and Ricky May’s return to driving after his near death experience, another recent milestone concerning another legendary driver Maurice McKendry has been largely overlooked. New Zealand’s second most successful driver ever has turned 65 and has had his first winner as a superannuitant.
“Yep, I’ve got my Gold card,” he chuckles, “but I feel a young 65.”
McKendry had his landmark birthday on May 27 and just four days later celebrated with an all-the-way win with $10 shot Betterbebetter for Taupaki trainers Frank Cooney and Tate Hopkins at Cambridge. It was his 19th victory for the season.
As for turning 65 - “it’s come along pretty quick, I’m active and I don’t have too many aches and pains….. I’m dangerous.”
He has four horses in work at his Pukekohe property though from a training perspective he’s yet to have a winner from the 10 he’s started in the 2020 season.
“Some are showing promise, they need to take the next step.”
These days he doesn’t travel as much as he once did, focusing on Alexandra Park and Cambridge.
With 3269 wins since his first triumph in the mid-1970s McKendry was the second to 3000 career wins. The only driver ahead of him is Tony Herlihy on 3530. “The Magic Man” has won the drivers premiership ten times though has never won a New Zealand Cup or an Interdominion final.
It’s another Maurice, Maurie Holmes who has won the most premierships . He won his 18th in 1974 but was forced to retire at aged 65 under the then Rules of Trotting.
Those regulations are long gone and as long as he meets the necessary health requirements Maurice McKendry has no such plans to call it a day.
“I won’t go on till I’m 80 but I’ve got a few years left in me yet.”