Harness - News

Kiwi trio in Queensland for Young Drivers Champs

  • Mon, 11 Dec 2017
  • Garrick Knight
Kimberly Butt is in Queensland and raring to go.

Kimberly Butt is in Queensland and raring to go.

Three young kiwi drivers are in Queensland for the week, taking part in the Australasian Young Drivers Championship.

Dylan Ferguson, Sheree Tomlinson and Kimberly Butt were selected, in accordance with set criteria, based on their results from the last racing season.

The series kicks off with four heats at Redcliffe on Wednesday night, where the three Kiwis will take on representatives from six Australian states as well as defending champion Toddy McCarthy, from Sydney.

The series will continue at Albion Park on Friday night and conclude on the same track on Saturday night.

Besides bragging rights, the winner will receive a brand-new Rio Meteor Sulky worth over $6,000.

Butt, who drove 20 winners last season and already has seven to her name this term, is thrilled to be selected for the prestigious competition.

“I’m very excited and grateful to have the opportunity to be on this trip in Queensland – it’s always a goal for any junior driver.

“To drive in Australia is a huge thrill and it’s also a chance to make new friends and connections.

Butt has drawn a mixed bag of chances on night 1.

“I’ve had a look at my drives but don’t know too much about the form here, so will have to do a bit more study on them,” she said.

Her best prospects for maximum points are likely to be Calcavado in Heat 1 and Make A Point in Heat 2, according to Queensland commentator Chris Barsby.

Barsby believes Tomlinson, who won New Zealand’s richest trotting race last month at age 19, potentially has the best book of the three kiwis on night 1, narrowly ahead of Butt.

A trip to a theme park on the Gold Coast, as well as a visit to Ronald McDonald House are on the drivers’ itinerary during time away from the track.

They will be teaming up to raise funds for Ronald McDonald House of South East Queensland, which provides free accommodation and support services for the families of hospitalised children.

New Zealand has a good recent record in the annual competition, winning three of the last six editions via Robbie Close (2015), Andre Poutama (2014) and Joshua Dickie (2011).

Other winners have been Jay Abernethy (2006), Mark Jones (1999) and Lauren Pearson (1998). 

This year’s Australian state representatives are Michael Grantham (Western Australia), Jayden Brewin (South Australia), Chris Geary (New South Wales), Matt Howlett (Tasmania), Jason Lee (Victoria) and Narissa McMullen (Queensland).