Fitzgerald out to conjure up championship win
By Jonny Turner
Series leader Andrew Fitzgerald will be out to weave his magic in the final two heats of the New Zealand Amateur Drivers Championship at Rangiora on Sunday.
The reinsman known by many as ‘Fitzy’ goes into heats three and four on 12 points, giving him a three-point lead of northern counterpart Frank Phelan (9).
Fellow northerners John Kriechbaumer (8) and Sheryl Wigg (7) are close behind in third and fourth positions.
Fitzgerald goes into Sunday’s racing hoping he can secure enough points to hold off those chasing him, but he knows it won’t be easy.
“There are a couple of drivers – like Sherly Wigg and Frank Phelan – that have good drives and they can probably beat me on points if they go well.”
“Sheryl has got Dalness First and Dreaminsover and with her formline you wouldn’t be surprised to see her win with both of them.”
Fitzgerald and Phelan drive stablemates from the Matt Purvis barn in heat three, the first of Sunday’s heats.
The Cantabrian is hopeful Wee Ring The Changes’ superior staying power could help him come out of the race with a points edge over Phelan.
“Out of Matt’s two, Auchtercairn probably has the best form but Wee Ring The Changes is probably the better horse,” Fitzgerald said
“He can do it a bit more rough and tough, whereas Auchtercairn is more a sit sprinter.”
“He has got a 200m sprint and he doesn’t want to see daylight too early.”
“So, hopefully that works in my favour .”
“If we get stuck three-wide or something like that down the back it probably won’t affect him as much as it affects some of the others.”
Bookmakers give Colleen Negus a hope of gaining her first points in the championship in heat 3.
She drives Ruby’s A Delight ($4.50), who opened the early equal favourite alongside Auchtercairn ($4.50).
Wee Ring The Changes ($5) was rated the third equal favourite with Pete’s Dash ($5), who will be driven by Alan Edge.
Wigg’s drive Dreaminsover opened at $4.80 with his Kriechbaumer’s Play By Ear rated at $11.
Fitzgerald drives Alexy in heat four, who opened the outsider of the field at $16.
Though the pacer isn’t given much of a chance by bookies, his driver thinks he can earn points.
“Alexy has been going pretty good lately at Addington, I would be surprised if couldn’t run in the top six,” Fitzgerald said.
“He’s got not a bad draw (12), he will probably end up midfield somewhere and if the three-wide train gets going hopefully we can get on it.”
Unfazed, to be driven by Paul Wallance, was backed in from $5 to $4.40 after heat four’s fixed odds market opened.
Wigg’s drive Dalness First opened at $6.50 with Phelan to drive $15 chance Refine and Kriechbaumer to drive another $15 shot in Off The Edge.
New Zealand Amateur Drivers Championship Points Table
Andrew Fitzgerald 12
Frank Phelan 9
John Kriechbaumer 8
Sheryl Wigg 7
Paul Wallace 4
Blair Wilmott 1