Next stop Addington for Group 1-winning Aussie trotter
By Duane Ranger (courtesy of Redcliffe Paceway)
Queenslander Tony Veivers has already laughed terminal cancer in the face, and now the 60-year-old is keen to create Australasian harness racing history with his Group 1-winning trotter, Not As Promised.
While all the big pacing guns are flocking to the Sunshine State to try and win Inter Dominion glory starting this Saturday (December 1), Veivers has paid up to $30,000 in international return flights to try and become the first Australian owner to win the coveted $110,000 New Zealand Trotting Derby on Grand Prix Day at Addington Raceway on Sunday week (December 10).
No other Australian has ever competed in the coveted 80-year-old Group 1 event, let alone win it.
The gifted three-year-old will leave for New Zealand tomorrow (Wednesday) and will land in Auckland the same day before catching another flight to Christchurch on Sunday. The son of Betting Line will then have another 55-minute float trip south where he will be housed at Brent and Tim White’s Ashburton Raceway stable.
Not As Promised will line up in Race 3, the King Of The North New Zealand Trotting Derby. It is worth $110,000, with the winners pocketing $60,500, plus a trophy and dress rug.
It's part of the Grand Prix Day which will comprise eight Group 1 events, including the New Zealand Pacing Derby, the New Zealand Oaks, and the New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All.
Veivers knows about winning a Group 1 event. On Sunday October 29, Not As Promised, became the first Queensland horse to compete in, and then win the 109-year-old Group 1 $75,000 Victorian Trotters Derby 3yo Final at Maryborough. He is owned by Veivers Purchasers Ltd and was bred by Jess Tubbs, who had the horse for his first six starts. It was Veivers' first Group 1 Victory.
Then last Saturday night (November 25) at Tabcorp Park, Melton, Not As Promised justified his $2 favouritism when winning the $75,000 Breeders Crown 3yo Trotting Colts and Geldings Grand Final. He has now won nine of his 15 starts and placed in five others for $125,535.
“I had to commit to New Zealand before he won on Saturday, but I honestly think he’s that good he can give the Kiwis a run for their money. His Victorian Trotting Derby win sealed the deal,” Veivers said.
He then deflected all the praise on to the father and son training combo of Graham and Layne Dwyer, and driver Nathan Dawson.
“Layne (Dwyer) has done an absolutely brilliant job looking after the horse down south for us at Dennis Reeve’s property in Victoria, and he will again play a big part with his dad in New Zealand.
“And speaking of Graham – what an amazing trainer he truly is. He’s right up there with the best yet he trains so many people’s broken-down horses and cast-offs, and then gets them up to win.
"I have 20 horses in Australia, and I only use him or Jack Butler, because I believe they are two of the best trainers in Queensland. Also, Colin Knox, manages my 50-acre farm – 45 minutes from the Brisbane CBD – also trains for me.
“I think Not As Promised is the one of a few decent horses Graham’s been given that wasn’t hurt or sore. I can’t speak highly enough of the whole Dwyer family – Martine included."
“I offered $35,000 for Not As Promised when he was originally for sale at $40,000 ...I bought him there and then, and I’m so glad I did. He’s the best horse I’ve ever owned. We all dream of Group 1 glory and now I have it. It would be the icing on the cake to win across the Tasman,” Veivers said.
“It’s every owner's dream to win a Group 1 at Addington Raceway, simply because it’s rarely achieved, and the owners here have obviously not had the horseflesh or thought it was viable enough to head to New Zealand."
The retired Brisbane fruit and vegetable businessman believed his trotter had a big advantage going into the New Zealand Trotting Derby, simply because he had a genius in the bike.
“Nathan Dawson is the best in Australia and one of the best drivers going around in Australasia currently. He’s driven for me for eight years. His statistics speak for themselves. He is a computer in a seat when he gets out there. He’s a thinking driver. Not a leader and take it from there. I wouldn’t want to have any other driver in the sulky. Nathan gives our horse extra metres.
“I’m so grateful for Nathan getting on the plane soon after his Inter Dominion heat. I’m still a bit crook but have offered to fly with Nathan on the Saturday before the race. Nathan wants me to go over with him. I’ll see how my health is, but I’m determined to get there,” Veivers said.
Terminal bowel cancer is deadly serious, but you wouldn’t know Veivers has suffered from it for three years this January.
“The chemotherapy for the structure of my bowel can be pretty severe for the first two days but after that I’m leaping and jumping again. I’ve been told it's terminal, but that’s a part of life. I’ve had one mate that was told the same 15 years ago and he’s still with us.
“Even though its terminal, it’s a matter of being strong and positive and not allowing this ugly disease to control my life. Having a horse like Not As Promised lifts my spirits, but life is way too short to get down in the dumps. I want to get to New Zealand and win this race.
“I have good people all around me plus the horse. I am in good hands, and not seeking sympathy, just another Group 1. My daughter, Sarah, is a health scientist at Spring Sciences Australia, on the Sunshine Coast and looks after my health,” Veivers said.
“I’ve had over 70 goes at chemo at Greenslopes Hospital here in Brisbane where the staff have been fantastic. I’m not alone – over 100 people go there every day for chemotherapy."
Veivers said Not As Promised would return home immediately after The New Zealand Trotting Derby and be spelled before taking on the open classers next season.
“The Square in June or July is a $150,000 race that Graham is targeting. Then I’d like to think he would be good enough to take on Australia and New Zealand’s best open class trotters.
He’s such a big fella at 17-plus hands, and still only three so he’s got plenty of time to fill his big frame.
“I rode and pre-trained gallopers for a lot of my early life, but now I’m very proud to say I’m a passionate harness racing owner and breeder,” Veivers said.