Sharpe goes two from two to win NZ Championships

By Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk

Andrew Sharpe has emerged from the pack to win this afternoon's NZ Amateur Drivers' Championships at Addington.

Going into the final day Sharpe was third equal on five points, with Michael House (12) and Cheree Wigg (11) out in front after the first two heats at Cambridge last Thursday and at Addington on Friday night.

But the northern horseman made the final two races his own, first winning with Sweet Spirit in the Diamond Racing Thanks Our Outstanding Staff Mobile Pace and then wrapping up the title with a perfectly-judged drive with favourite Henry Winkler in the Diamond Racing Thanks Vets, Smithies and Breakers Mobile Pace.

Sharpe, who works for Ray Green at Lincoln Farms in Pukekohe, finished with 19 points, three ahead of Wigg (16) and House (14).

"It's just my third blat round this track and to win two of them I'm pretty stoked with that," Sharpe told Harness Unhinged's Nigel Armstrong post race.

"My brother first started in the amateurs and I liked what he was doing so I jumped ship from normal licence to amateur and it's paid dividends."

Andrew made the move about two years ago, while brother Craig's been in the amateur ranks for eight seasons.

"It's been a good weekend," he added dryly, "you know you're no Blair Orange but it's good to get out there."

Andrew's first win this afternoon had an ironic twist.

While Michael House's chances were extinguished when White Star Orlando galloped and was pulled out of the race, two of his own horses Sweet Spirit and Santanna Mach finished one-two for Sharpe and Alan Edge.

"It was a bit of a grind up the lane but did enough," says Sharpe.

That gave House his 800th training success, just days after he had his 50th driving win at Addington on Friday with Lord Mudrick.

Today's final heat of the championships was a much closer affair.

Sharpe was slow away from his second row draw with favourite Henry Winkler. He was then three back in the running line before launching out wide. He charged home to edge out Foveaux Gambler.

"Once I got to the outside he just keep coming - he really hit the line .... what a thrill that was."

It was good enough for Andrew Sharpe to secure his first national title at his first attempt.



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