O'Sullivan on her first NZ win, her famous dad - and more

by Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk

Shannon O'Sullivan can't get enough of this country right now.

The talented junior driver from Bendigo in Victoria claimed her first ever New Zealand win with Bondi Lustre at Ashburton on Monday, and has now decided to extend her "working holiday" on this side of the Tasman.

"I was going to head home on Sunday but now I'm going to stay till later on in May because I've enjoyed it so much."

At Ashburton in the Peter Mitchell - 20 Years at the TAB Mobile Pace, for the junior drivers, Bondi Lustre was three back the fence before getting the perfect run on the passing lane to beat Evangalist and the pacemaking Tempo Warrior. Paying $21.80 for the win it was Bondi Lustre's fourth win in 37 starts, for trainer Ivan Court.

"I was looking for a gap and just had to be patient..I was counting to 10 before making my move."

O’Sullivan, the daughter of Victorian harness racing great Jim, started out in the 2017-18 season and has driven 127 winners in Australia with the highlight being the Group 3 Cobram Trotters Cup triumph with Dont Care.

O'Sullivan senior is best remembered in this country for his New Zealand Cup - Inter Dominion double with Lightning Blue at Addington in 1987.

"They are big shoes to fill," says Shannon O'Sullivan, " but we have to make our own path and he is my number one supporter."

Right now she is doing a "bit of everything" at the premiership-leading Robert and Jenna Dunn stables on the beach at Woodend - "the views from the office are great".

She is on her third trip to New Zealand. In 2018 she had some drives here, including a fourth on the Dunn-trained Every Option at Ashburton. Yesterday's breakthrough win was her fifth drive in this country.

She then returned for the New Zealand Cup last year when she did some broadcasting and general media duties. It's an area that appeals - so does she aspire to be like Australian trainer/driver/media personality Brittany Graham?

"She is a role model - it's the best of both worlds," she says, "it would be a dream job to do radio and also race driving."

O'Sullivan is likely to head back to Australia in about a month to attend her university graduation. She recently finished her degree in exercise science.

But she doesn't have any really firm plans.

"I just like to go with the flow a bit."

That could well involve more time on this side of the ditch after an experience she describes as being a "real eye opener."

"And it's been so much fun."



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