By Duane Ranger
Alicia Harrison has been crowned the 2018 McMillion Equine Feeds New Zealand Junior Driving Champion and says her win is both unbelievable and unforgettable.
“It’s undoubtedly the highlight of my career. Winning my first drive was something I’ll never forget, but this is even better than that. I have so many people to thank, especially the trainers who let me drive their horses throughout the series,” Harrison said.
Harrison is just the third woman after Lauren Pearson (1998, 2002) and Michelle Neilson (2014) to win the New Zealand title.
“It’s been a real privilege, and I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity,” she added.
Harrison is the first to admit she would never have won the title at the Addington Raceway last Friday night (July 13) had it not been for her boss Arna Donnelly and beloved grandfather Warren Taylor.
“It’s only really my first full season and if it hadn’t been for Pop (Taylor) and Arna I would not have won this. They have inspired and encouraged me along the way.
“Pop bought me my first pony when I was just six or seven and I have loved horses ever since. I was always at my grandfather’s stables when I was young. That still hasn’t changed.
“Pop never got into the sport until he was in his fifties, but I always remember him as being a very good horseman. He was a top polo player before he got into harness racing and represented New Zealand many times,” Harrison said.
“As for Arna, she has given me so many opportunities and is so good to work for. I have learnt so much from her. It’s a great place to work and Arna is my inspiration.” she added.
As well as being a skilled horsewoman, Harrison is also an accomplished academic. She has a Bachelor Of Science degree from Massey University majoring in agriculture with a minor in equine studies.
"For now all I want to do is drive, but it's really satisfying to know that I have my degree to fall back on one day,” Harrison said.
Cambridge based Benjamin Butcher finished runner-up, three points behind Harrison, and was captain of the North Island team who beat the South Island team by 203 points to 145.
Final placings and points in the 2018 McMillan Equine Feeds New Zealand Junior Driver were:
|Alicia Harrison (NI)||49 points|
|Benjamin Butcher (NI)||46 points|
|Mark Hurrell (SI)||39 points|
|Matt Anderson (SI)||34 points|
|Luke Whittaker (NI)||29 points|
|Dylan Ferguson (NI)||27 points|
|Jack MacKinnon (NI) and Tony Cameron (NI)||26 points|
|Ben Hope (SI)||25 points|
|Kimberley Butt (SI)||18 points|
|John Morrison (SI)||17 points|
|Sheree Tomlinson (SI)||12 points|