As far as amateur riding and driving goes, Hamilton's Michelle Northcott is a pro.
Northcott last night drove in the amateur drivers' race at Cambridge and tomorrow she takes the ride on It's A Message in the amateur riders' race at Ellerslie.
And if that's not enough, she's been invited to represent New Zealand in next month's Ladies Amateur Drivers' World Cup in Italy.
Northcott is relishing the opportunity to drive at the event, though she has no false illusions of success. "It's a bit scary when some of the other drivers have had over 500 wins," she said yesterday.
Northcott is a bit more of a rookie. She has had more than 50 drives in non-tote harness races for seven wins and her record in totalisator races going into last night's race at Cambridge was seven drives for one win and three minor placings.
Northcott is one of only a handful of female amateur drivers in New Zealand but says she was honoured to get the callup for the World Cup from the Gavin Cook, the kingpin of the amateur sport in this country.
She will drive in four races at Bari, on September 15, that will see drivers accumulating points to decide the winner.
"I've never been to Europe before so it should be good. I'm looking forward to it," said Northcott, who will be joined by her partner Gary Rogerson and daughter Bailey on the trip.
By her own admission, Northcott has far more of a love for the gallopers, especially the jumpers. She has a key role at Graeme and Debbie Rogerson's stables at Tuhikaramea.
Northcott has twice won the national amateur riders' series and will shoot for her sixth win aboard the Rogerson-trained It's A Message tomorrow. "He should be a good chance," she said.
Northcott will also be keeping a close watch on the stables' two star jumpers, Cape Kinaveral and Morpheus, in the feature races at Ellerslie tomorrow.
"Morpheus has come back really well. As long as the track isn't too wet, he should go well," she said. "Cape Kinaveral hasn't missed a beat since his Grand National [Steeples] win either. That was a huge thrill and relief as much as anything winning down there. Fingers crossed they both go well."
- © Fairfax NZ News