Harness - News

May joins exclusive $30 million club

  • Wed, 10 Jan 2018
  • Matt Markham
Ricky May after winning one of his New Zealand Cups with Terror To Love.

Ricky May after winning one of his New Zealand Cups with Terror To Love.

In his usual nonchalant manner, champion harness racing driver Ricky May notched up another notable milestone in his incredible career on the weekend.

The Methven horseman clicked over $30 million in stake earnings for his career drives at the Rangiora meeting on Saturday.

May becomes just the third driver in New Zealand to achieve the feat behind Tony Herlihy ($36 million) and Mark Purdon ($30 million).

“I didn’t even know I was getting close to it,” said May.

“It’s a pretty good achievement though, especially when you look at who the other drivers are.

“I’m not really sure where it’s all gone though.”

Of the $30 million in stakes, May has received five per cent of that as his driving fee - making his stake in the overall picture $1.5 million.

Spread that over his 42 seasons of driving that equates to almost $36,000 in winning stakes in the back pocket each season - not a lot for someone who drives on average 700 horses a season.

Drivers are also paid a nominal fee for each drive they take on top of winning stakes which boosts the figure significantly.

“It’s still not probably a whole lot when you think about it, if we didn’t get paid for losing driving fees it wouldn’t probably be worth it.”

In his 42nd season of driving now, with 31 wins on the board, May will be out to continue a long standing record of his.

Since the 1987 season, he has only finished outside the top five drivers for wins in a season on three occasions - an incredible display of longevity for anyone in sport.

There’s been 67 New Zealand Group Ones along the way as well and the opportunity to sit behind some of the best to strut their stuff on the track with the likes of Inky Lord, Christian Cullen, Iraklis, Monkey King, Carabella, Terror To Love and, more recently, Monbet all on the list of big race winners for May.

“I’ve been lucky when you look at all the good horses I’ve driven, that’s played a bit part in getting to the $30 million I guess.”

And despite an already long and lucrative career, May - who spends a good portion of his summer months on the header when he’s not at the track, is showing no signs of slowing down.

His combination with stables like that of Greg and Nina Hope and good mate Brendon Hill among many others sees him still in hot demand around the South Island.

“As long as the drives are still there, we will keep going.

“I still enjoy it and am lucky enough to have had a bit of success along the way too.”

With just over 2,800 wins next to his name for his career, the magical 3,000 mark awaits May next and at his current rate it might not be long in coming.