Matt Anderson will, at the very least, be tied for champion junior driver for the season. Photo: Wild Range Photography.
Matt Anderson will almost certainly head to Oamaru on Sunday knowing he is bowing out of the junior driving ranks as a winner.
With a five-win lead in the Junior Driver Premiership before Addington tonight, where he has four live chances, Anderson will take the title in his fifth and last season as a junior.
That is unless Ben Butcher can do the virtually impossible and win five races from five drives in Auckland tonight and draw level.
Anderson’s career has been heading in the right direction from the start and this season he has had more drives (364), wins (42) and stakes won ($381,600) than any before, with 25 wins in the two preceding seasons having been his best.
There’s been a number of highlights along the way including Invercargill Cups with Maverick and Costa Del Magnifico and Group 3 features with the juvenile filly Northern Velocity, while rated “right up there” was a debut win as a trainer with the two-year-old Pitch Perfect at Addington last month.
A Bettor’s Delight gelding from Karen Donna purchased at the Premier Sale last year for $45,000, Pitch Perfect was then turned out for a month.
Anderson says his time at the All Stars Stable has to be the highlight of his career to date however.
“Just having the chance to drive so many good horses and being able to observe and learn how they do things there, that taught me so much,” said Anderson.
Anderson also had feature race placings with the likes of Motu Premier, Wanna Play, You Gotta Have Faith, King Solomon, Major Ben, All You Need Is Faith and Ashley Locaz while at the All Stars, before teaming up with young trainer Mitchell Kerr this season and winning races for him with Come Dance With Me, Smokin By and the ill-fated The Dorchester.
He has been working for the Robert and John Dunn stable at Woodend for the last three months and has driven six winners for them, including a double with Johnny White and Kensington Kate at Richmond last month.
“I can only have so many of my own in work (three) at Woodend, but I’ve got a few more on the books and it’s all about building towards the future.
“Hopefully I can gather some more owners as we go along and have a go at training, although I wouldn’t say that’s going to take a preference over the driving.”
Anderson has four drives on Sunday including three for the Dunns and says the last of them, Johnny White, is probably the best, although he has yet to handle the Regan Todd-trained filly Phoebe’s Delight.
The latter is on debut but on trials form and from a nice draw in a 2000m mobile, she would have to rate a good chance in a maiden race which doesn’t look overly strong.
Johnny White has a wide draw in the junior drivers’ event, but the race is a drop in class for him and a smallish field (10) will help.
“De Lancome is also facing a drop in class from her recent racing, although we’ll need a bit of luck from barrier six.
“Jack Pack only won his maiden two starts back and is sort of racing out of his class with those good horses behind him off handicaps.”