Racing: Josh Dickie lands top drive

By Michael Guerin

Driver Josh Dickie. Photo / Stuart McCormick
Driver Josh Dickie. Photo / Stuart McCormick

Rising driving star Josh Dickie has been handed the opportunity of a lifetime but it could just as easily be taken away from him this weekend.

Auckland-based Dickie is the surprise new pilot for Locharburn, the third favourite for November's $800,000 New Zealand Trotting Cup.

Trainer Kevin Chapman will hand Dickie the reins for Friday's Avon City Ford Cup at Addington, after regular reinsman Dexter Dunn opted to stick with old mate Christen Me for the crackerjack race.

Dickie has been warned his association with Locharburn could be a brief.

"I haven't 'bulls******' Josh. He knows if Dexter wants back on after this race, the drive is his," says Chapman.

"I understand Dexter wanting to drive Christen Me this week and he has told us he will make a decision about his Cup drive after this race.

"So he is still our No1 but if Dexter stays with Christen Me then Josh will be our driver for the Cup."

Drives on genuine New Zealand Cup chances don't often come up for grabs at this stage of the season but Chapman says Dickie has the advantage of knowing Locharburn.

"We stay with John [Dickie] and Josh when we campaign in Auckland and Josh has driven him twice at Alexandra Park," says Chapman.

"He is a young guy who has come a long way and I like that he listens, so we are happy to have him on."

Dickie has gone from junior star to open-class player in the past two years, thanks to the deeds of trotting hero Speeding Spur and the impressive strike rate of the family stables.

He will be thrown in at the deep end this Friday though, as the 2600m standing start hosts the first seven in the New Zealand Cup market, with the All Stars trio of Have Faith In Me, Smolda and Lazarus, as well as Franco Nelson and Tiger Tara.

It is one of the strongest early-season races at Addington in years but Chapman says he is not daunted.

"They are all good horses and it is a mini New Zealand Cup, just worth $775,000 less.

"But I aren't scared of those other horses and we have race fitness over some of them.

"It's an exciting time and I am looking forward to chasing the Cup. I'm a 64-year-old Cantabrian - it doesn't get any bigger than the New Zealand Cup for me."

- NZ Herald

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