Junior Drivers - what 2022 means for them

The New Zealand Junior Drivers Championship will run alongside the new Racing Calendar, starting January 1, 2022.

This means the Junior Drivers Premiership will run January 1 - December 31, with qualifying for the New Zealand Championship going from January 1 to October 31 2022.

The championship itself will be held in either November or December. The exact dates will be confirmed mid 2022, but even with the new calendar being Jan - Dec, Junior Drivers will still have to apply for their licence in July. In their final year the change means they will be able to drive through to the end of the year, effectively taking the current 6 year limit in the junior ranks to 6 1/2 years.

In the NZ Junior Drivers Championship, drivers will get seven points for each win during that period, with 2nd= 5 points, 3rd = 3 points, 4th = 2 points and 5th = 1 point.

There will be 12 drivers in the championship. It will no longer feature six drivers from both the North and South Islands. Instead the top three points-scorers from each island will automatically qualify, as will the next five highest points-scorers overall. The final spot will be a wild card, who will be invited to join by the Chief Executive of Harness Racing New Zealand.

You can view the 2022 conditions here.

Australasian Young Drivers Championship :

The Australasian Young Drivers Championship (AYDC) will also be held in 2022, in Australia in December.

All drivers must be under 25 at January 1, 2022. As defending champion Sarah O’Reilly has already qualified, she will be joined by three others.

They will be :

  • the leading North island Junior Driver as at October 30, 2022
  • the leading South island Junior Driver as at October 30,2022
  • and a wildcard selected by the HRNZ Chief Executive.

If Sarah O’Reilly is the leading South Island driver this year then the second ranked South Island driver will be selected.

Concession changes :

HRNZ has agreed to changes to the concessions pertaining to Junior Drivers. This is to encourage owners and trainers to give juniors more race day opportunities.

A 4YO and older horse may have one penalty free race per season rather than lifetime for:

  • Invited drivers races
  • When a junior driver drives the horse in a designated standard rating or junior drivers race

If a 4YO and older horse in any general ratings race is driven by a junior driver with 10 or less career wins then its ratings rise will be half it would be otherwise. For example an R54 horse winning a race would usually get six points. Under this scheme it would get three.

Revell Douglas Series

The new Hygain-sponsored Revell Douglas Memorial series for junior drivers will also get underway in the New Year, starting at Wyndham on January 6.

The date is particularly relevant as it marks a year to the day since Revell Douglas, a well known and respected trainer, drowned while trying to save his children at Karioitahi Beach, south of Auckland.

We will have more details of the series on the HRNZ website next week. The details will also be emailed out to all junior drivers.

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