Day At The Track

Stars to shine in Launceston Sunday night

02:00 AM 09 Mar 2018 NZDT
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Kerryn Manning, harness racing
The star of the show is Victorian Kerryn Manning who up until last week had driven over 3700 winners and placed over 4300 times for prizemoney of in excess of almost $26 million.
Gloucester Park Photo

The quality of drivers competing in this Sunday’s inaugural Australian Female Drivers Championship in Launceston would be a good fit for any world-class harness racing event.

Having the talents of Kerryn Manning, Kate Gath and Amanda Turnbull at the same meeting should be enough to draw a big crowd but when added is a sprinkling of rising stars, the stage is set for a hot competition.

The star of the show is Victorian Kerryn Manning who up until last week had driven over 3700 winners and placed over 4300 times for prizemoney of in excess of almost $26 million.

No other female driver has accrued more Group 1 victories, which is why she is regarded as one of the best in the business.

Manning is a superstar of harness racing and her presence in any line-up usually encourages strong betting turnover and coupled with her congenial personality makes her one of the most valuable commodities in the game.

Kate Gath, also from Victoria, has driven over 1200 winners and is close to topping $10 million in stake earnings so she too will have her share of followers on Sunday night.

New South Wales is well represented with Amanda Turnbull one of the most successful female drivers in the country having amassed 1600 wins and 2000 placings for over $10 million in stakes.

Then there is teenager Ellen Rixon who is just starting her journey but has already notched 100 winners from only 900 drives and it won’t be long before she cracks the $1 million stake barrier.

Rixon represented NSW in the Australian Drivers Championship against the male drivers in Tasmania last year and she more than held her own.

South Australia’s Danielle Hill is another gun driver who has represented her state at national team events mixing it with the male drivers and more than holding her own and her record of over 1300 winners for over $4 million in stakes speaks for itself.

South Australia also will be represented by Lisa Ryan who has driven almost 140 winners and placed over 400 times from only 1500 drives.

Western Australia will be represented by Jocelyn Young and Deni Roberts and while they are less experienced than most of the aforementioned, they are talented drivers in their own right.

Tasmania will be represented by Natalee Emery and Kristy Grant and both are talented drivers.

Emery has amassed 358 wins for stakes of over $2.2 million of which much was accrued in Victoria where she drove under her maiden name of Westendorf.

Grant is an up and coming talent who is the granddaughter of astute horseman Dick Eaves.

Grant has notched almost 30 winners from limited opportunities but her acumen in the sulky has gone to a new level in recent times.

The winner of the AFDC will be determined on a point score basis and held over four races.

In a 12-horse field the winner will earn 19 points with 14 for second, 11 for third and nine for fourth reducing by one through to last place which earns one point.

Peter Staples

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