National title and more at stake for amateur drivers
Four races at three different meetings over four days will decide New Zealand’s next amateur driving champion.
The country’s top 12 amateur drivers – six from both the North and South Islands - will duke it out at Cambridge (Thursday night), Auckland (Friday night) and Rangiora (Sunday). The northern venues will host one race each, with two at Rangiora.
“Everyone gets a good draw and then a poor draw, and drivers don’t get to choose their horses,” says Canterbury Amateur Drivers Association president Arron Hutton, “it’s very levelling, and about driving skill rather than horse power.”
Blair Wilmott is the 2019 and defending champion after the championships were not run last year because of the pandemic but Sheryl Wigg is clearly the driver to beat. Her strike rate of 10 wins and nine placings from 25 drives this season is streets ahead of any of her rivals.
“Sheryl actually got so many points from driving around the South Island that she could have represented both the North and South Islands,” says Hutton, “but as she’s from up there she’s gone for the North.”
This championship will see a change to the points-scoring system. Historically everyone - first to last – has accrued points. This time points will only be awarded from first to sixth.
“We don’t want to see a horse getting whipped so it can finish eighth rather than tenth, it’s a perception thing,” says Hutton.
As well as the glory of being crowned national champion the winner of the overall title will also push their case to be selected for the next world amateur driving championships.
The 12 drivers are:
- Blair Wilmott
- Andrew Fitzgerald
- Neil Munro
- Alan Edge
- Paul Wallace
- Colleen Negus
- Sheryl Wigg
- Cheree Wigg
- Frank Phelan
- John Kriechbaumer
- James Brownlee
- Warren Rich