Southland's Craig Ferguson has been selected to compete at the New Zealand junior drivers' championships at Addington at the end of the month.
A points based system was used in junior drivers' races throughout the season to select 12 drivers to compete at the annual championships.
The winner will be decided when those drivers compete in a three-race series at Addington on July 30.
Ferguson was pleased to be selected after "trying for a few years," and is looking forward to the challenge of competing against his peers, he said.
Ferguson has notched 23 driving wins and is enjoying his best season. That figure has more than doubled his previous three seasons combined.
Gore pacer The Wrath Of Robyn was the key contributor to Ferguson's improved tally. Ferguson steered the Washington VC gelding to five victories this season and thought the horse was big on potential.
The pacer is back in work after being spelled due to his form tapering off in his latest starts this season. Gore trainer Trevor Cross suspected The Wrath Of Robyn's poor late season form came after the horse contracted a virus.
Cross believes the gelding is "over" those problems now, he said.
The immediate aim for the six-race winner would be New Zealand Cup week racing in Canterbury. A "start or two" in Southland during October would be the starting point for the horse's five year old season, Cross said.
Ferguson's further boosted his winning haul this season by steering home six winners from Ross Wilson's stable. He credited the Whiterig trainer for being the "biggest help" in his career by having the faith in him to drive "his whole team."
"He put me on [horses] when I wasn't getting a lot of drives."
That exposure opened up opportunities to drive for more trainers, he said.
Two of Ferguson's six wins for Wilson came on Extreme Three gelding El Diablo. The pacer has since been exported to Australia where he has won four and placed three times in seven starts, including a career best mile rate of 1.54.7 at Menangle.
Ferguson has been working for leading Canterbury trainer Mark Jones since early June while Southland harness racing is in winter recess. Jones sits fourth on the national trainers premiership after producing 70 winners from his Burnham and Woodend Beach stables this season. Ferguson was helping the stable prepare "a lot of young horses," and was enjoying the experience. "It's a great place to work," he said.
- The Southland Times