Orange gets new record
NZ HARNESS NEWS
Blair Orange drove four winners at Addington on Friday night to secure the New Zealand record for most wins in a season by a driver.
Orange’s win in the last on the card with All Nuts N Bolts was his 230th for the season, eclipsing Dexter Dunn’s 229 set last season.
Naturally, Orange was thrilled to achieve his final goal in a long season where he has recorded more than 1300 drives all over the country.
“It’s very satisfying; it’s made all the travelling worthwhile.
“When I set out on this season, I never had the record in my sights.
“My first ambition was to win the premiership, but more recently the record has shifted in to focus.”
Dexter Dunn’s delayed American trip put the premiership celebrations on ice for Orange, with Dunn mounting a late charge through June and July, at one stage getting within 12 of Orange.
But he’s now 21 clear with three meetings to go and Dunn is missing from Rangiora today after driving in Brisbane last night.
“You’d say the premiership is wrapped up now, too, which is a huge relief,” said Orange.
Orange is planning a holiday to Las Vegas in September, and will now have to plan one to Sweden next Winter, where he will drive in the World Drivers Championship.
“That’s a great reward to get at the end of long season and something I’m really looking forward to.”
The physical and mental toll has been huge for Orange, who has driven at virtually every Southland, Manawatu and Canterbury meeting all season.
It goes without saying that he needed the support and understanding of his wife, Lisa, to achieve.
“Basically, from Thursday to Sunday, I am not there (home).
“Thankfully she understands the game and knows what it was all about.”
Orange says his decision to go to Palmerston North and drive Michael House’s team for the season was the difference maker this season.
It netted him an incredible 46 wins throughout the season.
“Without Manawatu I’d be a good 30 behind Dex and there is no doubt that it was the key for me this season.”
And Orange is prepared to do it again, should House want to.
“I’ve said to Mickey that we might have to go up there again next season.”
As you’d expect, 1300 drives takes an awful lot of trainer support and, aside from House, a number of other stables around the country have been big supporters of Orange.
“It was nice to be able to go to Southland and have the support of two good trainers like Clark Barron and Kirstin Barclay.
“Not to mention everyone else down there who gave me drives when I was available.
“Clark basically put his daughter Ellie’s driving career on hold for a year to help me and I’ve very appreciative of him for that.
“Kirstin is teaming up with Tank Ellis next season and I’m looking forward to driving for them again.
Closer to home, Andrew Stuart, Ken and Tony Barron, Paul Court and Nigel McGrath are among the many who have put me on their teams.
“Ken basically retired from driving a few years ago and put me on his team, something I will forever be thankful for.”
As for individual race highlights, Orange picked out the two Group 1 wins behind Sheriff (New Zealand Derby) and Habibi Inta (Jewels 4YO Ruby).
“Those are the two horses that really stepped up this year and it was nice to win big races with both of them.
“I guess the Derby with Sheriff, being a key race on the calendar, was the pick of my wins this season.”
Orange has four drives on today’s seven-race Rangiora card as he looks to further elevate the new record.