Buckland-Stevens scores first driving victory
By Josh Smith - Harness News Desk
It may have been a wet winters day at Addington Raceway on Sunday, but it will live long in the memory of Jo-ann Buckland-Stevens.
The amateur driver was having just her second raceday outing and was able to pick-up her first win behind Glacier Coaster in the Mike Stratford Memorial Amateur Drivers Mobile Pace (2600m) for trainer Bruce Negus.
Buckland-Stevens bided her time at the rear of the field for the majority of the race before electing to press her claims four-wide down the back-straight.
Glacier Coaster stuck on resolutely and was able to pick-up her rivals in the home-straight to record a half-length victory over Changearound, with a further 1-1/2 lengths back to Flame Lady in third.
The win was made even more satisfying for Buckland-Stevens given the mare is owned by the estate of Stratford, who passed away earlier this month.
“It was pretty exciting to get my first win,” Buckland-Stevens said.
“I was just trying to be really positive today. I knew she was a lovely horse to drive. I just tried to listen to the instructions and go out there and have fun.
“She is just such a nice horse to drive and she is such an honest mare. I was ecstatic to drive her for Mike, especially on a special day with his memorial.
“It was also great to get the win for Bruce and Colleen (Negus) and what they have done for me over the past few years.”
Bruce Negus was instrumental in Buckland-Stevens’ involvement in harness racing, having introduced her to the sport three years ago, and he has encouraged her to pursue an amateur driver’s license.
“We own a garage out at Burnham and Bruce is one of our customers,” Buckland-Stevens said.
“He came in about three years ago and Brendan (husband) and a few of the other mechanics went into shares in one of his horses.
“I thought I would go and check the horse out and I ended up helping brush all the horses and learnt how to gear up.
“One day Bruce said did I want to jump in the bike and it all started from there. As soon as I did (drive a horse) I was addicted and then I started on the road towards an amateur license.”
Glacier Coaster has become one of Buckland-Stevens’ favourite horses at Negus’ stable, alongside She’s Allthe Craze who finished runner-up later on the card behind the Colin and Julie DeFilippi-trained Midnight Assassin.
“Glacier Coaster is just an honest mare to drive, I like her, and She’s Allthe Craze,” Buckland-Stevens said.
“It’s a shame we don’t get to drive them because I like the trotters and she is just an amazing horse to drive.”
Buckland-Stevens is enjoying her time out on the track on raceday and said the only goal she has at this stage is to improve on her driving abilities.
“I am just trying to drive horses to their capability and listen to the trainer,” she said.
“Next season I would like to get as many drives as I can and just continue to improve my driving skills.”