Sam Ottley has history-making win at Addington

By Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk

After having the perfect start to her driving career 15 years ago, Sam Ottley is now the most successful female driver in New Zealand.

The 32-year-old steered Takemybreathaway to victory at Addington yesterday to register her 678th career success, overtaking Cambridge trainer-driver Nicky Chilcott.

"It's been a good old battle with Nicky and I'm pleased to have got one ahead ahead of her," Ottley told Harness Unhinged's Nigel Armstrong post race.

"It was my goal at the start of the season ....so to tick that off is a big thrill."

It was a perfectly-judged drive by Ottley to bring up her big win. Takemybreathaway trailed Justace early in the Braxton Farriers and Sam Taylor Vet Handicap Pace. Turning for home Major Happy, who had been parked, briefly took the lead only for Ottley to launch up the passing lane, winning by a half neck. Paying $27.10 and $7.20, Takemybreathaway was 10/9 in the betting in the 11-horse field.

Ottley's 678 wins have come from 7100 drives. She famously won her very first race day drive with Nigel Paul, owned and trained by her mother Denise. That win was at Oamaru in 2008. Her strike rate is .1782.

In comparison Chilcott's 677 wins have come from 7729 starts, with a strike rate of .1723.

Chilcott doesn't drive anywhere near as much as Ottley these days. Chilcott's had 53 starts in 2023 for six wins, Ottley's had 344 starts and 32 wins. 

"I know Nicky and she's a real good sort," says Ottley, "and it's a big achievement by her, she trains a big team too and has trained over 500 winners, that's some feat."

Chilcott's current training total stands at 518.

As for the future, Ottley already has 700 wins among her targets. 

"Everyone wants to win a New Zealand Cup and I love the trotters so a Dominion or Rowe Cup would be great too."

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