Day At The Track

Orange chases record

10:18 AM 13 Jun 2018 NZST
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Blair Orange,Harness racing
Blair Orange
Photo Bruce Stewart

The man who for so long dreaded talking about winning the national driver’s premiership has now opened up about going one step further.

Because Canterbury horseman Blair Orange says he is now targeted good mate Dexter Dunn’s record number of wins in a season of 229.

Orange is guaranteed winning his first premiership this term sitting 25 wins clear of Dunn, who will head to the United States for a long working holiday if and when his visa is finalised.

So Orange finds himself on 208 wins for the year, needing 22 more to set a new mark and likely to drive at 20 more meetings before August 1.

With Dunn possibly out of the picture soon and Orange getting the pick of the drives at most meetings, his target of just over one win per meeting not only looks realistic but almost likely.

“For a long time I didn’t think about the premiership too much and just got on with driving and I definitely didn’t think about the record,” said Orange.

“But now it looks like the premiership win might be mine I needed a new goal and the record is the logical one.

“I am not going to change anything but if I keep going at the rate I have been I think I am about 50-50 to get to the 230.

“But it is more in my mind now and I will be driving at all the meetings I can and obviously not taking a holiday until after the end of the season.

“It is so rare you get a shot at something like this I might as well have a go but I won’t be traveling any more than I do because I travel enough now.”

Orange says that travel can leave him flat on comedown Mondays but after a few days of normal stable work and a game of squash on Wednesday night he is refreshed and good to go for what is often four straight days driving from Thursday through to Sunday.

This Friday he will come to Alexandra Park, mainly to partner hot favourite Classie Brigade in a $40,000 race even though the meeting at Forbury Park the same night would probably be more profitable premiership and record wise.

While he rates himself even money to crack the 230 mark, Orange is far more certain to pass Dunn’s personal best earnings record for a season in New Zealand.

Orange’s drives have earned $2,218,279 this season whereas Dunn’s best is $2,256,372, under $40,000 away.

But Dunn would have a far better overall best season financially has he has consistently tasted group one success in many of Australia’s richest races in the last five years.

Even if he eclipses both Dunn’s wins tally and best ever NZ stakes season, Orange still has over $110,000 to earn to break the record for the richest domestic season by a New Zealand driver.

That is, somewhat surprisingly, held by David Butcher, whose drives earned $2,328,344 in 2008-09, even more remarkably from only 94 wins.

As for Dunn, the 10-time premiership winner, he going to win even in finishing second this season.

“Around about Christmas Dex and I made a deal, the one who won the premiership and got to go to the World Driver’s Championships in Sweden next year has to pay half the other one’s airfares there.

“So while it looks like I might go there to compete, I’ll have to pay half Dexter’s airfare for him to come along and enjoy himself.”


Michael Guerin

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