By Duane Ranger
Craig Smith drove his first winner of the season, and first ever in the North Island, at the Cambridge Raceway on Wednesday night.
Smith, who now has nine career wins to his credit and has been employed by John and Josh Dickie at Ardmore for just over six months, steered Lagertha to a one-and-a-quarter length victory in the sixth race - the $9,000 The Edge and Sulkies Party Zone Maiden Pace.
"It was a real honour to drive this one home for John because he and his partner co-own the horse and have trusted me to do most of the work with her for a while now," Smith said.
"She travelled real well and I thought I was a chance on the home turn. She finished off the race quite strongly, which tells me there's a few more wins in store for her yet."
"It was an awesome feeling," the 24-year-old added.
Lagertha and Smith started from the outside of the second row (14) in the 2200m mobile and Smith settled her last, before setting her alight to go and sit parked at the bell.
The filly settled well at the back and then in the home straight she had too much kick for the favourite Madam Secretary (Tony Herlihy MNZM).
Lagertha stopped the clock in 2:43.9 (mile rate 1:59.9) and came home in 59.1 and 29.9.
Smith, who had his first race meeting drive in 2015, was introduced to the industry by Robert Dunn.
“I have no-one in my family involved in harness racing, but I remember dad used to watch the races on TV and I sort of liked it back then.
“When I left school I worked in a warehouse for a couple of years and hated it, and thought I need to get out there and do something I enjoyed. I didn’t like the nine to five work at all. Then in stepped Robert Dunn," Smith said.
“I owe the Dunns everything. They persevered with me for so long. I made many mistakes and should have been sacked about 10 times but they always believed in me – and all the time they were fine-tuning me and trying to turn me into a horseman. What patience!”
“I am indebted to them for what they did. I worked for Robert and John for four years. They were huge in my development. If they hadn’t seen through my mistakes I’d hate to think where I’d be working now – but thanks to them I’m living the dream. I absolutely love what I do,” he added.
Smith took a chance and decided to move north about eight months ago and worked for Jeremy Young at Pukekohe before a vacancy came up at the Dickie’s Clevedon barn in the spring.
“John and Josh have been so good to me. They are awesome to work for. You never stop learning here and again I can’t express how grateful I am to them for letting me drive a horse that they co-own,” Smith said.
Condensed results from the Waikato-BOP Harness meeting at Cambridge Raceway:
Race 1: The Tony Herlihy (MNZM - Ardmore) trained TICKLE ME PINK 2 b f (Muscle Hill-Luby Ann (by Andover Hall).
Race 2: The Steve Telfer (Ardmore) trained SOME CHANGE (4 b g Somebeachsomewhere-Dancingonmoonlight (by Holmes Hanover) David Butcher.
Race 3: The Paul Chalklen (Pukekohe) trained SLY ELEANOR (4 b m McArdle-Girl In The Mist(by Armbro Operative) James Stormont.
Race 4: The Scott Phelan (Ardmore) trained and driven MAGICAL MISS (3 b f Mach Three-Magical (by Art Major).
Race 5: The Steve Telfer (Ardmore) trained KIWI TINTIN (4 ch g Tintin In America-Tall Blonde(by Road Machine) Benjamin Butcher (j).
Race 6: The John & Josh Dickie (Clevedon) trained LAGERTHA (3 b f American Ideal-Cole's Secret (by Soky's Atom) Craig Smith (j).
Race 7: The Geoff Martin (Cambridge) trained and driven DANKE (10 b g Sundon-Thanx (by Holdonmyheart).
Race 8: The Doug Gale (Bulls) trained BLACK CHEVRON (4 B g Bettor's Delight - Waihemo Rainship (by Soky's Atom) Jay Abernethy.
Race 9: The John & Josh Dickie (Clevedon) trained AGINCOURT (4 B g Sam Bourbon - Zlata (by Armbro Invasion) Josh Dickie.
Race 10: The Arna Donnelly (Cambridge) trained WHALE RIDER (5 B g Bettor's Delight - Whale Watcher (by In The Pocket) Steve Philiips (amateur).
Top Trainer: John & Josh Dickie (Clevedon); and Steve Telfer (Ardmore) 2 wins each.
Top Stallion: Bettor's Delight 2 wins.
Top Junior Driver: Craig Smith and Benjamin Butcher 1 win apiece.
Top Driver: 10 races and 10 winning drivers.
Extensive results can be viewed here. https://infohorse.hrnz.co.nz/datahr/results/042509rs.htm