Six newbies for Junior Driver Championship

There will be six new faces at the upcoming McMillan Equine Feeds Junior Driver Championships.

The championship, which dates back to the 1970s, will kick off at Methven on Friday, October 28, and then conclude at Kaikoura two days later (Sunday October 30).

It's hoped there will be two races at each venue. In each race seventeen points will be allocated to the winning driver, with 12 for second, and 10 for third. Points will go all the way down to one for 12th place.

The driver with the most points at the conclusion of the series will be crowned overall champion and represent New Zealand at the Australasian Young Drivers' Championship in Victoria in November, as part of the Inter Dominion series.

The six drivers making their championship debut will be Crystal Hackett, Monika Ranger, Sam Thornley, Carter Dalgety, Wilson House and Gemma Thornley, who was the wildcard selected by Harness Racing New Zealand Chief Executive Gary Woodham.

Winners of the championship over the last more than 40 years include some of the country's best ever drivers including Maurice McKendry, Tony Herlihy, Anthony Butt, Mark Purdon, Blair Orange, Mark Jones, and Zachary Butcher.

Sarah O'Reilly, who won the title in 2019 and again last year, is back, as is 2020 champion Kerryn Tomlinson.

A high profile omission is 2018 champion Alicia Harrison who hadn't accrued enough points after a slow start to the season following a car crash near Cambridge earlier in the year.

The championship will involve 12 drivers, including the top three from each island who were automatic qualifiers.

The drivers, together with the points they have totalled this year, are :

North Island:

Crystal Hackett 269

Zev Meredith 146

Monika Ranger 122


South Island:

Sarah O’Reilly 924

Mark Hurrell 578

Ben Hope 537


Next 5 top points:

Sam Thornley 466

Carter Dalgety 276

Ellie Barron 250

Wilson House 230

Kerryn Tomlinson 222


Wildcard:
Gemma Thornley

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