Harrison claims Championship

NZ HARNESS NEWS

Move over Jacinda Ardern, there is a new Queen of Morrinsville.

Alicia Harrison, from the Waikato township, is the 2018 New Zealand Junior Driving Champion.

Harrison followed up her excellent showing at Forbury Park on Thursday night by winning another heat with Queen Of Glory at Addington on Friday night.

Her final drive, Aveross Brachole, finished beyond midfield, but earned enough points for Harrison to win the title.

The win with Queen Of Glory took her 10 points clear of fellow northerner Benjamin Butcher, and Harrison admits when she hit that passing lane with vigour, she started to imagine herself as the champion.

“It definitely entered my mind, but I was still worried about the horse in the last heat.

“Benny did a great job to place in all four heats and it went right down to the wire.”

Butcher finished second on roughie Mordecai, meaning Harrison needed to beat just two horses home to get the title.

It was touch and go for a while, but she beat four home to get the job done.

Harrison admitted when Butcher surged clear of her horse at the top of the straight, a bit of anxiety started to set in.

“It was very stressful! I was starting to worry that I’d hit him 10 times so all I could do was chase him with the reins down the straight.

“I actually thought he went good, everyone else was just running on as good, if not better.”

Harrison is just the third woman to win the title after Michelle Neilson (2014) and Lauren Pearson (1998, 2002).

She says it’s a huge thrill to record such a momentous achievement in her first real season of driving.

“It’s only really my first full season.

“The season before was really only a half a season pottering around with Pop’s old trotters, some I probably shouldn’t have been behind with my lack of experience!

“But I definitely hope this will bring more driving opportunities for me.

“It’s been a very worthwhile experience meeting new trainers and owners and making a lot of contacts.

“I was walking around Forbury not knowing anyone and after I won everyone was coming up and congratulating me and introducing themselves.”

Most importantly, Harrison says she had a good time meeting fellow junior drivers from the South Island and enjoying the experience.

“Everyone has been fantastic and we’ve all been getting along really well.

“It was great to get the win and I’d say tonight will be pretty good, too.”

Butcher finished second ahead of Mark Hurrell and Matt Anderson.

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