Successful return for Harrison

Alicia Harrison - Trish Dunell
Alicia Harrison

Trish Dunell

Cambridge reinswoman Alicia Harrison made a winning return to her home track on Thursday night when piloting home Womeninleague to win the Straw Warehouse Cambridge Mobile Pace (2200m).
Last season’s New Zealand Junior Driver Championship winner has been on the sidelines since the start of the season after sustaining a broken ankle at Alexandra Park and she said she was delighted with her successful return to driving.
“It’s definitely good to be back and good to be in the winner’s circle again,” Harrison said. 
“I got hurt on August 10 at Alexandra Park when I was driving in a juniors race and got kicked under the foot, which bent it right back.
“That fractured the inside of my ankle and it did a fair bit of tendon and ligament damage too, so I have been on the sidelines for the last two months. It’s been tough having to sit back and watch everyone else picking up wins.
“I’m not one to sit on my hands, so I was back at work on crutches as soon as I was allowed. Definitely getting back in the driver’s seat has been on my mind for a fair while.”
While her enforced layoff has given her contemporaries a head-start this season, Harrison’s winning drive showed she has lost nothing in her time off.
She was aggressive off the gate, sending Womeninleague to the lead from barrier four before handing up to Whitehaven Beach. Sitting in the trail throughout, Harrison was able to take advantage of the passing lane with her charge to record a one length victory. 
“I wasn’t too sure if I could cross for the lead, but I was hoping at worst I would sit out parked and I knew Craig Smith’s horse (Whitehaven Beach) would come forward at some point,” Harrison said.
“She’s a funny wee horse. She is better when they go a really quick time and she doesn’t have any real speed, so I was confident that if they went along she would be right in it because we had her pretty spot on.”
It was Womeninleague’s first victory and Harrison, who leases the five-year-old off Jeff Whittaker, said a gear change made by her employer Arna Donnelly may have been the key to the Changeover mare’s breakthrough victory.
“We have had a few niggles with her and Arna said that when she was driving her she noticed she was touching a knee,” Harrison said. “So we put some spreaders on her and she was more tractable and that probably helped her come off the gate in the race on Thursday night.”
Harrison set herself a goal of winning 20 races this term at the start of the season and she doesn’t see any reason to change that target despite missing the first part of the season. 
She is hoping to add to that tally in the coming weeks with Womeninleague as she eyes some northern junior driver spoils with her mare.
“She’s only a rating 51 horse now,” Harrison said. “So it will probably be good to target a junior drivers race in the near future with her.” – Cambridge Raceway


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