Orange's NZ season all but over

By Michael Guerin

Champion driver Blair Orange’s New Zealand season is all but over.

And as he sits in the Queensland sun on a much-deserved busman’s holiday Orange says he is satisfied with what he has been able to achieve in his fourth premiership victory.

Orange travelled to the Sunshine State last Saturday to partner Krug into fourth in the Rising Sun at Albion Park, won by Amazing Dream.

With the travel uncertainties he has decided to stay there until after the Queensland Derby on July 24 in which will be partner Krug again, even though the star three-year-old isn’t racing this weekend.

“I could have come back but to be honest I need a break and I don’t want to get locked out of driving Krug in the Derby in case things change,” says the 43-year-old.

“It will do me some good to freshen up over here although I am available for drives at Albion Park this week if anybody needs me.

“But I won’t go chasing them, the main reason I am staying on is for Krug the week after.”

Covid restrictions allowing, Orange will fly home on Sunday July 25 and that will mean one more meeting in New Zealand for the season, at Addington on July 29.

It is understandable Orange is slightly tired as not only has he driven 176 winners on the way to his fourth straight premiership but he has also driven in 1133 races, his second busiest season after the 1321 drives he had in the 2017-18 season.

“I am actually still really enjoying it, the driving and I even don’t mind the travelling.“And those numbers were even after I got a six week holiday for my drinking indiscretion, which I have learned from.”

Orange says those sort of numbers wouldn’t be possible without the huge support of owners and trainers and or course his family.

He rates Krug’s New Zealand Derby as his highlight of the season.

“That was very, very satisfying and he has been a really good horse to me which is another reason I am happy to be here to drive him in their Derby.”

Orange says one of his other favourite victories for the season was Mystic Max’s win in the Lone Star Sires’ Stakes Trotting Champs on May 21.

“I was thrilled to win that not so much for me but for Michael Purdon so I got a real buzz of that.”

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