Racing: Fit Herlihy plans to take a week off driving duties

By Michael Guerin

Tony Herlihy. Photo / Richard Robinson
Tony Herlihy. Photo / Richard Robinson

Champion reinsman Tony Herlihy has recovered from his accident last Friday but won't be seen back in the sulky until next week.

New Zealand's most successful harness racing driver, with more than 3000 domestic victories in his career, Herlihy was knocked unconscious when he was thrown from the sulky in the score-up to a race at Alexandra Park last Friday.

He lay motionless on the track for nearly a minute but was able to walk to the ambulance and was taken to Auckland Hospital for a scan and observation.

He was discharged that night.

Herlihy says he is feeling no lingering effects from the head injury but was still suffering from general soreness.

"The head is all right but the body is a bit sore because I didn't brace myself very well," said Herlihy.

"But it was just one of those things that happen and I was able to drive trackwork again on Sunday."

But Herlihy won't be driving at Cambridge tonight, the only northern harness racing meeting this week as Alexandra Park takes a week off.

He will instead head to Queensland for a semi-work trip planned several months ago.

"While I am not worried about the head at all the timing probably works out pretty well."

The incident was the second time within five weeks that a leading northern horseman had been knocked unconscious at Alexandra Park.

Frank Cooney was knocked out and later placed in an induced coma after a race smash on July 13.

He was released from hospital a few days later and is now recovering at his West Auckland home, although he is yet to set a date for his return to race night driving.

Also missing from Cambridge tonight will be star local reinsman Zac Butcher.

He recorded the biggest win of his career behind Cheer The Lady at the Australasian Breeders Crown on Sunday but is now serving a two-week suspension for his drive in the semi-final nine days earlier.

Meanwhile, one of the forgotten open-class heroes of New Zealand pacing returns at Addington tomorrow night.

Canterbury pacer Stunin Cullen will make his comeback after 17 months off the scene in the main $12,500 pace, starting off a 20m handicap.

He has not raced since the Auckland Cup of March last year, before which he won the rich Hunter Cup in Melbourne.

The meeting heralds the start of the open-class pacing season in New Zealand, with Stunin Cullen the first serious New Zealand Cup contender to hit the tracks this season.

He will be in the colours of new trainer Anthony Butt, who still has two months in charge of Premier Stables before his brother Tim returns from disqualification.
CHAMP OK

* Leading driver Tony Herlihy has recovered from being knocked out in a race smash at Alexandra Park last Friday.

* He will not be driving at the Cambridge meeting tomorrow night.

* Neither will young gun reinsman Zac Butcher.

* Stunin Cullen will resume at Addington on Friday, after a 17-month break.

- NZ Herald

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