Banks Peninsula TC Competitions kick off for 2022/23

30 September 2022

No sooner have we celebrated last season’s on-track successes at Motukarara than a new grass track harness racing season is upon us. Banks Peninsula Trotting Club’s 25 September meeting went off in the venue’s usual fine style, with competitive racing and a large number of people on course to enjoy the day.

Feature race was the Majestic Son DG Jones Trotting Cup (G3), won for the second year running by the Dunn trained and driven Mataderos. The Cup was presented to owner Jamie McKinnon who flew down from Auckland for the race.

The new season’s club competitions have been eagerly anticipated as always. Is there a trainer out there to challenge the Dunn stable for Farmlands Feedbarn Trainer of the Year title? Can John Dunn be knocked off his comfortable perch as leading reinsperson in the Driver of the Year comp sponsored by Famous Grouse Hotel Lincoln? Will we have another down-to-the-wire finish in the hotly contested Junior Driver title, once again sponsored by the Blackmores and Fletchers, longstanding supporters of our younger drivers?

One race day out of six doesn’t give the best guide to how the competitions will unfold. But there’s plenty of evidence already that interest will be high in these particular races going forward.

The Phoebe Stud-sponsored Filly/Mare of the Year competition sees three horses – Classie Linc, Ebury Street and Tiger Taylor – leading the field with the maximum five points. Three mare/filly wins is below average for a Motukarara race day, leaving a bunch of horses ready to pounce in the meetings to come and plenty of time for newcomers to leap high in the standings. No less than eight fillies/mares ran second out of 11 races, all sharing three points.

Gavin Smith, Motukarara

Gavin Smith with sponsor’s rep. Stacey White and Star Magic

Trainer Bruce Negus collected a win and two seconds for 11 points to top the leaderboard as Trainer of the Year. Phil Burrows had a win and a second to give him eight points and second spot in that race. That also give Phil a clear lead in the Seahorse Supplements UDR Trainer prize standings, although that competition won’t take full shape until more trainers have the minimum qualifying four starters on the board. Robert Dunn and Jenna Dunn share third on points with Gavin Smith.

Gavin Smith takes the early Driver of the Year lead by reining home two winners, Star Magic trained by him and Ebury Street by Phil Burrows, plus three minor placings. That’s 16 points and a great day at the office from five drives, but unfortunately for Gavin there’s not a Drivers’ UDR comp. Robbie Close also had a good day with 12 points, followed by perennial front-runners John Dunn and Blair Orange on 11.

Expect a close fight once more in the Junior Driver’s competition. Former winner Ben Hope has an early lead after second placings on Tom Brady and Bettorlini. Mark Hurrell with a second on Phone Tap and third on Shandon Bells shares second with Korbyn Newman who won behind Sod’s Law, and Kerryn Tomlinson who won the maiden trot with Gazza Beatt. The intermediate Ben Hope & Korbyn Newman Junior Drivers Trot was notable for being quinella’d by its sponsors!

Follow the Competition leaderboard here.