Burley scores first NZ driving success
By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk
Stephanie Burley frequented the winner’s circle numerous times in Australia, but she was excited to score her first driving victory in her homeland on Friday.
Burley has been the regular driver of the John Dickie-trained Bettor Than Bronze and she was able to steer her to a half-length maiden victory in The Gem Journey Mobile Pace (2200m) at Alexandra Park.
“I was very excited to get the win,” Burley said.
“She is a nice little filly from a good family. We thought that she may have won one a bit quicker, but she has just had no luck in her runs.
“I was a little bit worried on the corner tonight, but it has all worked out.”
Burley made the move across to Australia with her family nearly a decade ago and inherited her family’s love of harness racing, which led her to become a trainer and driver across the Tasman.
“I moved over in 2014 and ended up staying. I was training my own as well as driving and ended up with 16 driving wins and nine training wins,” Burley said.
“I got into racing more through Mum (Heather Burley), her Dad has always had some nice horses, and Dad (Mark Colson) trained a few. It’s been a family thing.”
Burley highlighted Our Emancipation, a Real Desire mare bred and owned by her parents, as a major influence on her harness racing career.
“Getting my first training and driving successes on the same horse, Our Emancipation, a year apart was a highlight,” Burley said. “To do it with a horse that we bred and I helped break in was great.”
While Burley followed her love of horses in Australia, she also focused on her future away from the sport, completing an accountancy degree extramurally though Massey University.
She has put that degree to use and now works as an accountant during the day and upon her return to New Zealand last year she has kept her skin in the harness racing game by helping out Dickie in the mornings before work.
“I came back to New Zealand in November last year,” she said.
“Mum and I have got a yearling out there (at Dickies), so I go out and help them out and come back home to work.
“I am lucky enough to still be working for the firm I was working for in Australia. I get to work remotely from home, which is great.
“I love being back in New Zealand.”