By Duane Ranger
Queensland’s Layne Dwyer is heading to Auckland, New Zealand, at the end of this month to contest the 27-strong New Zealand Kidz Kartz Inter Dominion Pony Trot Championship.
New Zealand Kidz Kartz spokesperson, Gayleen MacKinnon, said the Series was the first one held at the right-handed (clockwise) Alexandra Park track since 2005.
She said the grand final will be staged on Friday December 7, a week before the Group One $500,000 Inter Dominion Grand Final - which will see the Grant Dixon trained and driven Colt Thirty One compete as in that Series as Queensland’s sole representative.
“Queenslander, Chantal Turpin, was placed third back in 2005 behind Kumeu’s Kelly Blakemore and her brother Michael. We all know here in New Zealand just how good a horsewoman Chantal is. She’s now right up there with Queensland’s best,” MacKinnon said.
Turpin said she was proud of young Layne.
“I believe he will be a good little driver. He reminds me of a young Pete (McMullen - husband),” Turpin said.
Layne in fact told New Zealand Kidz Kartz that his favourite person in harness racing was former Australian Driving champion, Peter McMullen.
But Layne has also had an influence on his harness hero.
“He’s the little fella that originally nick-named me ‘Leader Peter’, and it has stuck with me for a few years now. To be honest I quite like it,” McMullen said.
MacKinnon said she asked Layne to describe himself in three words, and he replied:
“Kind, dedicated and funny”.
“In that case he will fit right in, here in New Zealand. He will be an excellent ambassador for the Queensland Junior Harness Racing Association,” MacKinnon added.
She said Layne was one of the youngest drivers taking part in the four-heat and two final (consolation also) championship.
“He might only be 12, but he certainly doesn’t lack experience, as he has been involved in the sport for five years now.
“During that time, he has represented his club in the NSW championship (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019) and the Miracle Mile in 2017, 2018 and 2019 - where he finished third. That was his best performance so far,” MacKinnon said.
MacKinnon, whose eldest son Jack was a top Kidz Kartz driver in New Zealand, and now works for Yabby Dam Farms in Victoria, said Layne was sponsored by Racing Queensland, Garrards Horse and Hound, his Club - the Queensland Junior Harness Racing Association, the Queensland Mini Trotting Sporting Association, and Redcliffe Paceway.
Layne’s mother, Martine, said her son was thrilled to be representing his State.
“He is so excited about this wonderful opportunity and very deserving of it, as he works hard, and is very keen to better himself in the industry.
“When Layne first started driving at the age of five, he was so small he had to climb up onto a modified small gig. He absolutely loves it,” Mrs Dwyer said.
Layne’s pony is called Dan-Elles Dash.
Meanwhile, the 2011 Inter Dominion Pony Trot Championship winner and Australasian Junior Drivers Champion, Alicia Harrison of Morrinsville, had this to say about the Championship:
“It is experiences like the Inter Dominion Series that allow all racing participants to come together and bond and learn more along the way. The biggest thing is to just have fun and enjoy it,” she said.
The Series starts in Auckland at Alexandra Park on Friday November 29 with two 800m heats, and then two more 600m heats on Tuesday December 3, before the Grand Final and Consolation Final three days later.
“The draws will be made after the Addington raceway Show Day meeting on Friday.”
MacKinnon said replays of all the pony trot races can be seen on the Kidz Kartz Alexandra Park Facebook page the following day thanks to Magness Sound and Video. https://www.facebook.com/kidzkartzalexandrapark/
The full field of 27 (with four Australian drivers) is:
Australia – Layne Dwyer (Queensland); Chloe Fermosa (NSW); Sarah Walsh (Victoria)l Jason Kittel (SA).
New Zealand – Holly Noakes, Mitchell Darby, Brittany Edwards, Ollie Gregory, Eve Harris, Sarah Muckle, Caitlin Schneider (all FRANKLIN); Emma Hedley, Page Sinclair, Tiffany Winsloe, Kaitlyn Veacock (Kumeu); Kate Coppins, Archie Hazlett, Meg Hazlett, Kendra Rogers, Mikayla Rogers (Waikato); Devon Towers and Thomas Towers (Taranaki); Jacob Dunn, Lachie Ford, Olivia Sheehan (Canterbury); Sophie Woodhouse (OTAGO); Emma Adams (Southland).
Sponsors: New Zealand Kidz Kartz, Off N Racing, Gregory Equine Ltd, an the (former) Northland Trotting Club.