By Duane Ranger
Gun reinsman, Matt Elkins, will represent Queensland at the 2019 Australasian Young Drivers Championship in New Zealand from December 7 to December 13.
The Calvert-based 23-year-old was selected because of his personal best 110 wins last season. He was the State’s top junior reinsman in 2018-2019 and will now compete against nine of Australasia’s best juniors.
They are: Matt Elkins (QLD), Cameron Hart (NSW), Zac Phillips (VIC), Conor Crook (TAS), Brodie Webster (SA), Corey Peterson (WA), Sarah O’Reilly (NZ) Benjamin Butcher (North Island, NZ), John Morrison (South Island, NZ), and defending champion, Sheree Tomlinson (NZ).
Elkins said he was rapt to be flying the maroon colours across the Tasman.
“It’s an honour. I’m very proud to be representing Queensland. I will certainly be giving it my best shot and won’t be going there to run second,” Elkins said.
He said he would like to emulate the feat of his partner, Narissa McMullen, who won the Australasian Junior Driving Title in 2017 in Brisbane.
“Narissa is coming with me so that’s even more incentive to do well. I’m a competitive person, and no matter what I do, I want to win. It doesn’t matter if it’s a maiden race at Marburg or a big Group event in the city,” Elkins said.
He said if he did win the Championship it would rate right up there with his two best achievements in the sport so far.
They were nailing his first century of winners in a season, and winning his first Group victory – both achieved in 2018-2019.
His 100th came behind the Donny Smith trained Our Uncle Alan at Redcliffe Paceway on August 11 this year.
Six days later he reined the Jarrod Alchin trained, My Ultimate Star, to win the Group Two $50,000 Australia Pacing Gold 2-Year-Old Championship.
If Elkins performs like he did in his former cricketing days then he would be a solid favourite to take the Australasian title.
He’s played top level cricket against Aussie test players, Usman Khawaja, Joe Burns, and Ryan Harris.
The classy all-rounder played First Grade cricket in Brisbane at the age of 17, and was captain of the Queensland Under 16 side.
He’s scored several centuries in his day including a ton in a T20 match off 40-odd balls.
“There’s some days when you are doing no good on the track you wish you were back scoring runs and taking wickets on the cricket field.
“Then when you get a duck or have a bad day in the field, you wish you were with the horses. I couldn’t do both because I had to attend practises to make the top teams, and that’s when I’d lose drives,” Elkins said.
“Regardless, I’m happy with the decision I’ve made. Harness racing pays the bills and you can never beat that winning feeling when you cross the line first, Elkins said.
“And being selected to represent Queensland in harness racing is extra special. It is a very nice reward and caps off a lot of hard work,” he added.
Elkins said he was looking forward to his first visit to New Zealand, especially getting the chance to drive on three left-handed tracks and the unique right-handed (clockwise) Alexandra Park 1,000m circuit in Auckland, on the final night.
The races will be run at Addington Raceway (Saturday December 7); Methven (December 8); Manawatu (December 10 and 12); and Alexandra Park (Friday December 13).
The Inter Dominion Grand Final, which will hopefully boast Queensland’s sole entrant, the Grant Dixon trained and driven Colt Thirty One, will be staged on Saturday December 14.