August 21, 2017 Michael Court
STAR Kiwi reinsmen Dexter Dunn and Mark Purdon scored wins, but in the end local knowledge made the difference as Canadian reinsman James MacDonald took out the World Driving Championship in Canada.
Australia’s representative, Queenslander Shane Graham finished eighth alongside Austrian reinsman Gerhard Mayr after failing to land a winner on the final day of a hectic week, which concluded at the Red Shores Racetrack
and Casino in Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island.
Dunn won this title in Sydney two years ago which gave New Zealand two competitors this year.
MacDonald, on the other hand, only got to drive when called in as a late replacement for Brandon Campbell.
Yet he can now lay claim to being a world champion, outdriving the best reinsman from nine other countries in a gruelling series across Canada.
MacDonald won five heats on his way to accumulating 211 points.
Dunn was a consistent performer but could only finish fourth in the overall tally while Graham and Purdon didn’t get enough really good drives to be serious contenders.
“It’s just been a real honour to drive with these guys,” said MacDonald.
“When I found out I was going, I was just elated to be on the same racetrack.
“Never in a million years would I have dreamt of winning.
“And I can’t say enough about all the drivers. They’re all new friends.”
Finland’s Mika Forss finished second with 192 points, with American Marcus Miller third on 181.5.
Meanwhile harness racing heads for Menangle today where top-flight reinsman Blake Fitzpatrick is back in action after a short suspension with several good chances of success.
Fitzpatrick has become something of a specialist with the square-gaiters these days and has an outside chance of winning both trotting races on today’s eight-race card.
Blake will drive Tuhimata Lass in the opening race, the Garrards Horse And Hound Trotters Handicap while his brother Gavin will handle Blake’s other hope, the improving Seven Secrets in the same race.
Tuhimata Lass has trialled twice since breaking three times in the running when seventh at Menangle earlier this month.
She finished third in both trials and is yet to win a race since crossing the Tasman after some slick efforts at Alexandra Park in Auckland.
She gets a chance today from gate two and if Blake can keep her trotting cleanly she’ll be the one too beat.
Blake will also pilot Mistercool Sea Eyre in Race Three and despite a 10m handicap, can win if he steps away from the stand and gets into the action.
Mistercool Sea Eyre hasn’t won a race since scoring back-to-back wins at Menangle in November last year – but its worth noting Blake was in the ‘bike’ both times for those wins.
Blake will also fancy his chances in the last race when he drives Montana Baron for Jimmy Rando.
While it is probably the best race on the program, Montana Baron has been close to the money at Bankstown and Newcastle in recent starts and will be a great chance to pick up a cheque after drawing the pole today.