Nervous Lewis ready for Auckland debut

NZ HARNESS NEWS

Tomorrow night’s Alexandra Park meeting will signal the first step in a new direction for one particular driver competing on the night.

Mikayla Lewis makes her northern debut with two drives – Sol Invictus and Cullens Joy – and says she’s rather on edge about it.

“I’m very nervous; it’s going to be a whole new experience for me.

“It’s a new track and racing right-handed as well.”

The 18-year-old made the permanent shift north last week with partner Nathan Purdon, who along with brother Michael has set up to train from their uncle Barry’s property in Clevedon.

Lewis has also taken on a job at Purdon’s.

“I started here last Thursday and everyone has been really nice.

“It’s a lot different to working in a small stable like I’m used to, but I’m enjoying it.”

Lewis has come up from the South Canterbury town of Temuka, where she worked for Brent White.

He was her biggest supporter, providing four of her five winners in her career to date.

“Brent was really good, and not just putting me on for a claim or in a juniors’ race.

“Quite often he would put me on the second one in a race when he didn’t have to.

“And at Nelson recently he let me drive the whole team.”

Lewis says the decision to come north wasn’t made lightly, aside from the obvious relationship with Purdon.

“It was a hard decision.

“But there is a lot less juniors up here and that kind of helped me make my mind up.

“It should hopefully mean I get a few more opportunities.

“Back home it is quite hard to get outside drives in a juniors’ race unless you get on to them a couple of weeks beforehand.

“By the time the ‘noms’ come out, most of the horses already have drivers booked.”

This week, she’ll kick things off with the Jay Abernethy-trained veteran trotter Sol Invictus, who gets a 10-metre concession with her junior claim.

Then she’ll pilot Cullens Joy for Michael Purdon, who was a brilliant winner first up for him at Addington last month before a flat second-up effort three weeks ago.

“She’s good and has been working really well,” said Lewis.

“We don’t think she was completely right at her last start; the bloods didn’t come back 100 percent.

“She seems all good now, though. Hopefully she gets a good trip and finishes thereabouts.”

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