1. Home
  2. News & Guides
  3. May 2020
  4. Zac Chappenden claims the Young Drivers Championship

Zac Chappenden claims the Young Drivers Championship

By Duane Ranger

20200516-211121.jpgWhat a way to bring up your first Saturday night winner!

Toorbul-based 17-year-old Zac Chappenden not only bolted clear to win race six by 12.2 metres at Albion Park at the weekend, but in doing so achieved his greatest moment in the sport.

Chappenden became the 2020 BOTRA Queensland Young Drivers Champion with that bold steer behind the Jack Butler-trained Sam Is Perfection.

The title-sealing victory came in the sixth and final heat, and in the earlier heat of the night finished a head-second behind the Grant Dixon trained Major Generaljujon.

“I’ve only had 25 career winners since I started driving last year, and two of them came in this Championship,” Chappenden said.

“It was an unbelievable feeling, I’m still excited - that is my career highlight without a doubt.

“I had 41 points and was in equal-first place with Brendan Barnes heading into the final night, and I knew I had a couple of winning chances - especially Sam Is Perfection.

“I thought if I could run in the first three with him, the title was mine.

“I spoke to the trainer (Butler) before the races and he told me he was a nice horse, who could go close.

“Then down the back straight the last time, I pushed the accelerator button.”

At the 500 metre mark, Chappenden gave Sam Is Perfection his head and they soon gapped the field.

At the top of the home straight, they had 20 metres to spare over their nine rivals, before the Pay Me Christian gelding cruised to victory stopping the clock in 2:34.6 (1:56.4 mile rate) for the 2,138m mobile.

The six-year-old started a $2.50 favourite, and in the process notched up his 10th career win.

“He’s a nice horse, who showed a real good turn of foot - I won’t forget him, or this night in a hurry,” Chappenden said.

“It is an honour to be a Queensland champion at such a young age.

“This is all I have ever wanted to do, I’d like to kick on and get 40 career winners before the season ends.”

The Caboolture-educated teenager, not only won the Queensland title, but he dealt to his opponents by a whopping 20 points.

Angus Garrard finished second on a countback from Brendan Barnes; they amassed 48 points – two more than fourth-placed Lachie Manzelmann.

Chappenden’s six drives saw him finish the Championship with two firsts, two seconds, a fourth and a sixth place.

“I owe a lot to my parents (Phil Chappenden & Melissa Kendall), If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have won this – or be driving at all,” Chappenden said.

“They have always been in to horses and put me through mini trotting.

“I had a pony run in the Interdominion, which was a thrill but that doesn’t match my Queensland title.

“I’d also like to thank Graham White who has supported me, and also Jack Butler and all the other owners and trainers who have put me on their horses.

“This is all I’ve ever wanted to do.”

Albion Park


Chappenden was born in Redcliffe and joined his parents’ stable when he left school.

He had his first race-day drive behind the Melissa Kendall-trained Aroona on April 10, 2019.

“He finished third that day, I actually drove my first winner behind Aroona on July 10 that year as well,” Chappenden said.

Meanwhile, Australia’s leading trainer, Grant Dixon, won the two other major races on Saturday night.

The brilliant Tamborine horseman and his wife, Trista quinella-ed the feature pacing event - the Flashing Red Open Pace.

Tennyson Bromac (Trista) held on to beat Colt Thirty One (Grant) by a nose.

It was Tennyson Bromac’s 16th win in 49 starts and fifth this season.

Colt Thirty One’s performance from 20 metres behind was meritorious considering it was the Queensland Horse of the Year’s first run back since finishing sixth at Tabcorp Menangle on March 7.

Four races later, Group One winning pacer Governor Jujon stormed into favouritism for next Saturday’s prestigious Group One QBRED 3YO Triad Final at Albion Park.

The $1.40 favourite sat back and made his move down the back to take out the Ohoka Punter 3YO Pace. 

Governor Jujon has now won 11 of his 15 starts, including six from 10 this season.

Blacksadance finished 1.6 metres back in second, while second favourite Jiggle And Jive lost all chance at the start.