Hanara records first win on outsider


One of the stalwarts of northern Kidz Kartz gained her long-awaited first winner at Alexandra Park on Friday night when Phoebe Gem was victorious at bolter’s odds.

Taitlyn Hanara spent 14 years in the programme designed to foster an interest in harness racing for children and teenagers, and to give them basic skills to carry them in the sport.

“I spent 14 years doing it thanks to Dave McGowan, who took me, my brother and my sister down to the very first ever Kidz Kartz night in Pukekohe when I was only six years old.”

It was only fitting, then, that Hanara’s first win as a junior driver would come aboard a horse trained by McGowan and his wife, Clare.

“It was a real buzz to get the win, especially with it being on Dave and Clare’s horse, and the fact that Clare owns her, too.

“They’ve been so supportive of me all the way through.”

Hanara, 20, is Pukekohe born and raised and says she was always destined for a life in harness racing.

“My mum actually worked for Dave and Clare for about 12 years so I have pretty much grown up in their barn.

“When I was about nine or 10 I made my mind up that I wanted to carry on with this as a career and I have been focused on it since then.”

Hanara only started driving on race night last month, and the win with Phoebe Gem came at just her fifth outing.

The daughter of Monarchy has a few tricks, but Hanara knows her well, and they seem to get on together.

“She’s a pretty honest mare, really.

“She’s taught me a lot; even though she can be a bit of a handful at the start some times.”

Hanara will always be able to say that for her first win, she threw the gauntlet down to seasoned horseman Brent Mangos (driving Angus Burga) over the last lap and came out on top.

“She actually doesn’t prefer sitting parked, but some reason on Friday she absolutely loved it.

“Around the final bend she was slowly dropping off, then when we straightened up and I pulled the plugs, she was back on the job.”

Despite having graduated from the programme, Hanara is still often seen on race night mentoring the next batch of young drivers coming through the ranks.

“Gary Noakes runs the programme and he asked me if I can help be a tutor to some of the kids.

“I said yes and I help out whenever I can, which is pretty much every week.”

Looking forward, Hanara is likely any other junior driver – she wants to make a name for herself, get more drives and more wins.

“For now, just to get to five or ten winners would be great. Nothing too flash.

“It was a real buzz winning the other night and hopefully it’s not too long until the next one.”

  • NZ Harness News

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