The country’s best harness drivers will assemble in Launceston on Sunday night when Tasracing, Harness Racing Australia (HRA) and the Launceston Pacing Club (LPC) host the second Sky Racing Australian Driving Championship.
Two drivers from each state will contest six races for points to decide the winning driver. Each state has selected their representatives based on their state driver’s premiership results from last season.
The 12 drivers are Ricky Duggan (Tas), Gareth Rattray (Tas), Gary Hall Jnr (WA), Chris Lewis (WA), Ryan Hryhorec (SA), Danielle Hill (SA), Grant Dixon (Qld), Shane Graham (Qld), Lauren Panella (NSW), Robert Morris (NSW), Greg Sugars (Vic) and Gavin Lang (Vic).
Tasracing chief executive officer Dr Eliot Forbes said Tasmania was home to some remarkable driving talent of all ages.
“The Championship provides an opportunity for local drivers to compete on one of their home tracks against the best drivers from interstate,” he said. “In addition, Tasmanian harness racing fans have the opportunity to watch the best driving skills live.”
HRA chief executive officer Andrew Kelly said he was delighted that Launceston would host the 2015 event.
“In only its second year, the Australian Driving Championship has already succeeded in filling an important industry role – bringing together the best drivers from each state to compete for the title of Australian Driving Champion,” he said.
“One of the things I particularly like about this concept is the opportunity for owners and trainers to meet and interact with the best drivers in Australia.
“These conversations allow participants to pick up hints or even tips about how a horse might be driven in future, tinkering with gear or just a general chat.”
LPC president Joel Wallace said the club felt privileged to have been selected to host the series.
“We are very much looking forward to showcasing our track and our facilities, and the quality and competitiveness of our horses to a wider national audience,” he said.
Nine races will be conducted at Launceston on Sunday night. The six heats of the series will be races two to seven. The other three races will feature the same 12 drivers but will not count towards the Sky Racing 2015 Australian Driving Championship.