The Next Generation

For most harness racing enthusiasts winter is a timely opportunity to catch a break in preparation for the fast approaching busy season.  

But for four young Cadets flying the flag for their regions respectively, the excitement is just beginning as they gear up to compete in the 2019 Catch Driver Cadet of the Year Final on Wednesday the 24th of July at Addington Raceway.

Based on a similar concept to the Young Farmer of the Year competition, the event has been designed to test Cadets throughout New Zealand in a diverse range of exciting challenges on both a theoretical and practical level.

Advancing from the regional competitions held in Canterbury, Southland and the Northern area the four finalists will have to call on not only their equine knowledge but acquired ‘life-skills’ in hope of securing the coveted Cadet of the Year trophy.

For finalists Oliver Kite, who represents the Deep South and Kaleb Bublitz from the North, their pathway into the industry was carved at a young age by means of the invaluable Kidz Kartz scheme.

Kidz Kartz has now firmly established itself as a major player in the Harness Racing Scene.

Kidz Kartz programmes running throughout both the North and South Island encourage the younger generation to try their hand at driving in a fun, educational and safe manner.

Experienced professional tutors and ponies carefully selected for their calm temperament help ensure the training programmes provided are committed to helping develop a well-rounded horseperson.

Emphasis is put not only on Harness Racing but also the knowledge of caring for your pony.

Kidz Kartz encourages friendship, fair play and friendly competition.

Kidz Kartz is an all-inclusive initiative; youngsters from all walks of life regardless of their horse experience are welcomed into the industry and given the opportunity to transition their passion of horses into a foreseeable career.

Oliver and Kaleb are perfect examples of how the Kidz Kartz programme offers a clearly defined path into the Harness Racing industry.

Regular Kidz Kartz races throughout the year imitate the thrill of driving in real races including the biggest inter-club race of the season, the Kidz Kartz New Zealand Cup.

This prestigious race is held annually on Show Day during the biggest event on the racing Calendar- New Zealand Cup and Show Week.

The Kidz Kartz members along with their ponies have to qualify for this race where they will race for glory in front of maximum capacity crowd at Addington Raceway.

Kidz Kartz also offers Trans-Tasman opportunities; a selected Kidz Kartz member each year travels to Australia to compete in the NSW Mini Trot Interdominion and there is a Lizzie of Rossland Rising Stars Drivers Series held in Auckland. 

Throughout New Zealand amongst both the Junior and Senior ranks are a number of successful Kidz Kartz graduates with Oliver and Kaleb already proving they too will be added to this list.

At a young age Alana Cameron and Cameron Kirkwood, both representing Canterbury, already had a foot in the stable door so to speak however this industry involvement was cemented at High School with them both engaging in the Gateway programme that Harness Racing New Zealand offers.

The Gateway programme was implemented as a way of providing wider educational opportunities to High School senior students, Year 11 and above. Gateway enables students, who are interested in or have a passion for horses, to gain credits towards their NCEA Qualification by completing equine related unit standards.

Gateway is offered at most High Schools throughout New Zealand.

 The Education Team at Harness Racing New Zealand assist the students and school co-ordinators in selection of appropriate unit standards in relation to the level of learning including work placement in stables.

Gateway provides valuable learning and employment opportunities and is available not only for harness racing enthusiasts but for anybody with an interest in the wider equine industry.

Through Gateway, Cameron was able to experience life at the races by means of a work placement with the Stipendiary Stewards.

Cameron learnt first-hand the rules and regulations involved in harness racing and was exposed to the judicial process in a practical manner.

Cameron went on to secure a job at Harness Racing New Zealand in the racing and registrations department along with picking up a stable job at Regan Todd’s; an opportunity he credits to the Gateway programme .

Cadet of the Year is the perfect initiative to showcase the talent of our emerging future stars and also to promote the various avenues available to those wishing to pursue a career in Harness Racing. We wish the four finalists the best of luck.

The 2019 Catch Driver Cadet of the Year final will be held on July 24th, with the winner announced at this year’s annual awards ceremony at Addington Raceway on September 28.  

We thank the generous sponsorship of the Catch Driver game, which is a free harness racing game available for download from your app store and allows you to drive in live harness racing games with people from around the world.

To download visit: 


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