Near perfect send off
By Michael Guerin
It was the near perfect send off when you aren’t actually going anywhere yet for Josh Dickie on the final night of the harness racing season at Alexandra Park on Friday.
Dickie trained and drove one of the $30,000 Futurity winners in Manhattan and then drove Art Nouveau to win the other, about as a big a double as a driver can hope for in the middle of winter.
That feature race double came the day Dickie announced he and partner Sammy Kilgour are heading to Victoria in November to set up there as trainers for for Josh to try his hand at freelance driving.
With that change in mind his horses will move over to father John’s name today so Josh will not be officially training until he moves but will keep driving here until November.
So Friday night’s meeting was one of change but it will be anything than immediate.
“Some of the boys were having a laugh cause it sounded like from the commentaries I am finishing up now,” said Dickie.
“I’ll definitely be driving here next week so I’ll be around if any trainers need me and Dad will have our horses racing and all the way through until November.
“But the feedback from the news has been great. So many people have contacted me and it has all been really positive so that is really cool.”
Dickie said winning both $30,000 Futurity Finals was pleasing in different ways.
“Manhattan was sent up here for that race so it is mission accomplished for her and she is getting better all the time,” says Dickie.
Art Nouveau is trained by Derek Balle, who himself got a double on the night and part-owned by his wife Raelene and Dickie said their reaction made that win just a special.
“To win a $30,000 race for good people like them was great and I got a real buzz returning to scale.
“He is a horse who has just kept getting better and that was a good win tonight in 2:40.”
Art Nouveau beat Commander Cathy, whose second place earned her a share of the Alexandra Park Filly/Mare of the Year alongside Bettor Twist.
But Commander Cathy’s driver Zac Butcher went one better, taking out out the Alexandra Park driver’s premiership courtesy of his two driving wins behind Silver Power and Stag Party.
Tony Herlihy had sewn up the trainer’s title before the night began while Andrew Drake claimed the junior driver’s title by one win and it was special one as he both trained and drove Superfast Ninja, who he also owns, to win the lower grade trot, some way for the young man to seal the title.
On a night on premierships and personal highlights popular veteran horseman Luk Chin achieved one as well, training a rare quinella when Jasinova beat stablemate Safrakova in the R50 trot.