By Duane Ranger
Two visiting Group One winning South Island reinswomen will spice up the Waikato Bay of Plenty Harness meeting on Thursday (February 22).
Both Samantha Ottley and Sheree Tomlinson said they were honoured to be asked to take part “Ladies 'Team Teal' Ambassadors Night” at Cambridge Raceway.
“I just want to thank the Club, owners, and trainers for allowing us to drive at Cambridge – and also the drivers who have stepped aside for us. It will be my first time driving at ‘The Raceway’ and I’m so looking forward to it,” 19-year-old Tomlinson said.
Ottley, who has 297 career wins since 2008, has driven twice at Cambridge. The 27-year-old won behind the Paulette Screen trained Regal Petite on September 12, 2013, and then she nailed her only Group One winner behind the Mark Jones trained Rocker Band in the in the Harness Jewels 4yo Diamond on June 4, 2016.
Tomlinson, the who has won 50 races since 2016, achieved her only Group One victory in the Dominion Trot at Addington Raceway on November 17 last year thanks to the Ken Ford trained Amaretto Sun.
“That was not only my career highlight but I think it will always remain my lifetime highlight,” the former Darfield High School student said.
Tomlinson is no stranger to travelling long distances for drives. She travelled weekly from Invercargill to Addington for drives.
“I’ve have only just left Murray Brown’s stable. He was so good to me. I’d fly to Christchurch for my Friday drives and then return to him on Monday morning. I’m now helping my Grandad and Mum.
“They have been so supportive of me. I love my job and want to keep driving winners. The aim is to beat my personal best total of 24 wins, which I achieved last season," Tomlinson said.
In just her third season of driving, Tomlinson has achieved 17 wins in 2017-2018. She said she'd love to win the Junior Driving Premiership after finishing third last year, but she was realistic about her prospects.
"Matt Anderson has nine more wins than me and he is in his last year as a junior driver and he deserves to win it. I think it will be tough for me to overhaul him because he will be chasing drives to win it. I've still got another year or so in the junior ranks.
"I just want to keep driving winners and then assess where I'm at when it happens," she said.
"It's a real privilege to be driving at Cambridge for the first time. I've seen races on TV and it is a left-handed track like back home, so I think I will be right," she added.
Like Ottley, Tomlinson has four drives at the Cambridge meeting. They are:
Race 4: The Maurice McKendry (MNZM) trained SHANDANCE (10).
Race 5: The Dave Iremonger trained PRETORIUS (1).
Race 6: The Tim Vince trained THE PERSUADER (3).
Race 7: The Ross Paynter trained IL PIRATA (9).
“I used to drive The Persuader for Eion Latimer down south, so I know what he's like. In fact all four of my drives are good chances. Il Pirata and Shandance go pretty well and Pretorius has the best draw of them all.
“I’ll be certainly giving it my very best on all four,” she said.
Ottley also liked her chances of making it three wins from three visits to Cambridge. She will drive:
Race 6: The Ross Paynter trained HELENA IDEAL (8).
Race 7: The Ross Paynter trained MONSEIGNEUR 10m (6).
Race 8: The Frank Cooney & Tate Hopkins trained SOMEWHEREINBROOKLYN (9).
Race 9: The Dave & Clare McGowan trained SEQUOIA (4).
“I haven’t done my homework yet but I know all three stables I’m driving for don’t line their horses up unless they are ready to perform. I’ve know Frank for quite a well and have driven horses for him down south
“I also know that Helena Ideal is a smart mare and is good enough to overcome the wide front row draw,” the former Geraldine High School student said.
“It’s just great to be part of a really good cause. I personally want to create as much awareness as possible for the Woman’s Cancer Foundation and ovarian cancer," she added.
Ottley, who works for Mark Jones’ stable at Woodend Beach, won the 2013-2014 junior driving premiership with 52 wins. Since 2014-2015 she has now had 175 victories as an open reinswoman.
Thursday’s Pick 6 will operate from races four to nine and will be worth at least $25,000.