Parker snares first win

Maruia Parker is all smiles after driving her first winner at Sunday’s Ascot Park harness meeting.
Foto South

Maruia Parker is all smiles after driving her first winner at Sunday’s Ascot Park harness meeting.

Junior driver Maruia Parker wasn't sure she had won her first race until she heard judge Bruce Young say so over the loud speaker.

Macy Blue Chip, her drive in the Pace at Ascot Park on Sunday, came with a rapid late run and nabbed the leader Mach Of The Man right on the line. Whichever way the result went, history would have been made. Macy Blue Chip won by a nose and Parker got her first win while Clark Barron on Mach Of The Man missed his 1000th in New Zealand by the same margin.

Ironically, Macy Blue Chip is trained Barron's brother Tony. Parker has been working for him for about a month, the horse is a recent addition to the stable, and Parker has had three drives on her for two seconds and a win.

"That's put her to the top of my favourite horse list," an excited Parker said after the win.

Born in Roxburgh 23 years ago, Parker is a grand-daughter of the late Alan Parker of Teviot Valley.

"I drove my first fast work on his horse, he was how I got into it," Parker said.

After attending Otago University for a year and a half, Parker decided it wasn't for her. She returned to Roxburgh where her sister Cass was working for Geoff and Jude Knight.

"I was offered a job for two months jogging horses and stayed for four and a half years."

Last season's Southland Oaks winning driver Gordon Lee scored back-to-back wins on 3-year-old fillies Art Exhibit in the E Hayes & Sons Pace and Mighty Empire in the Final Touch/Grant Auto Electrics Pace and both will be nominated for this years Group II feature on April 12.

The two are trained by Lee and his brother Colin, as was Royal Counsel when she won the Oaks. Prior to joining the Lees, all three were trained by Malcolm Shinn and in the case of Sunday's winners, Shinn also has a share. He races Art Exhibit with Jack and the late Ann Inglis, and Mighty Empire with Mark O'Connor and Lisa Daly. 

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O'Connor, whose brother Greg is a front-man on Trackside Television, has had a connection with the Shinn stable for 26 years and won with a number of horses from there but Mighty Empire was the first winner he has had with the Lees.

The $4,065 won of Art Exhibit would be enough to guarantee her a place in the Oaks but numbers wanting a start will determine whether Mighty Empire gets a place.

Blackrock Babe, a half sister to 1:51.7 miler Freyberg, who has won 19 races and more than a quarter of a million dollars, quit maiden ranks in the Autosure Pace. She was bred and is raced by Phillip Hewitson who says she is the only filly from Sam's Beach Babe so will be bred from next season.

Victories by 3-year-olds Tas Man Bromac in the Regent Car Court Pace and Statham in the Invercargill Partsworld Pace confirmed the 3-year-old firepower trainer Nathan Williamson has on tap, a fortnight out from the Southern Supremacy Stakes.

Jaccka Jack won the Trot to gain his 13th win, three years after his 12th. He was driven by Rory McIlwrick who was celebrating his birthday on Sunday.

 - The Southland Times

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