Next gen Kiwis heading to IDs big finale

While there are no Kiwi trained horses and/or top drivers competing on the final night of the Inter Dominions in Queensland this Saturday, there will still be some involvement from this side of the Tasman. 

The Australasian Young Drivers' Championships, featuring top Kiwi juniors Sarah O'Reilly, Zev Meredith and Crystal Hackett, will have their big final night, after a series of heats during the week, starting Tuesday, and two young Kiwis, Anna Mangels and Olivia Thomas will be involved in the Inter Dominion Mini Trot Championship.

To see more on the Kiwi challenge in the Australasian Young Drivers' Championships click here :

To see more on the event itself click here :

Anna Mangels (Canterbury - left) and Olivia Thomas (Southland - right) will take on drivers from all over Australia in the Mini Trot Championship, that involves driving miniatures, shetlands and ponies, on the final night of the Inter Dominions at Albion Park on Saturday night. Mini trots caters for children aged between 5 and 17.

So how are the two feeling about what promises to be a huge occasion?

Anna : "I am very excited, I know it is going to feel amazing on the night and I feel very proud to be representing both my club and NZ."
Olivia : "I am thrilled to wear the silver fern. There is no greater honor than to represent NZ in my final year of Kidz Kartz."

Are you nervous?

Anna : "I'm not sure what to expect, which makes me a little nervous. This is going to be my first time overseas, so I am feeling both excited and nervous."
Olivia : "I don't usually get nervous however I wish to do well for myself, my country and my club."

What do you know about the competition and how it works?

Anna : "From what I have read we will take on eighteen drivers from the Sunshine State’s mini-trotting clubs (the Queensland Junior Harness Racing Association and the Queensland Mini Trotting Sporting Association) as well as other qualifiers from South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales.
Olivia : "My information is limited and I'm not entirely sure myself how the competition works or which grade of pony my drive is in yet. One main difference between Kidz Kartz NZ and the Pony Trots Australia is that NZ handicaps Ponies on speed and metres per second, but Australia handicap Ponies on height, and metres per inch."

How did you get involved in harness racing?

Anna : "It started through my friend and her family inviting me along to Kidz Kartz to see what it was all about."
Olivia : "My family has always had ponies and riding horses. My love for harness racing started when my mum took a job working for Robert Wilson Harness Racing. Robert pointed me in the direction of Kidz Kartz with my ponies and I haven't looked back.

What has been your racing highlight so far?

Anna : "My racing highlight so far was racing in NZ Cup last year in front of the large crowd and doing the parade down the track before the race, being part of the Team Teal last season and another highlight was being awarded Best Driver and Pony Combination earlier this year. I also really enjoyed racing at the Christmas at the Races and decorating the cart and horse with Christmas decorations."

Olivia : I have been involve in Kidz Kartz for at least 5 seasons I think. My highlight has been achieving a second overall at the Rising Stars 2023 Drivers Series in April 2023.

Do you plan to stay involved in the sport, and if so, how?

Anna : Yes, I definitely plan to stay involved in the sport. I plan to apply for HRNZ Cadet Scheme and hope to gain employment at a stable. Next year while still at school, I will be studying the NZ Certificate in Animal Care as well as NCEA credits in Equine.

Olivia : I plan to continue on with my KK Club helping after I age out. I currently hold a stablehands licence and work for Mr Wilson driving track work and tending to the horses whenever I can. Moving forward I plan to achieve a trials licence for next season and work towards a junior drivers licence while finishing my secondary school education. I aspire to be a leading NZ reinswoman and a great role model.

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