Premiership leading driver Blair Orange rates his only three drives, Turkish Trousers (race 4), Chaaat (race 5) and Goodlookin Chick (race 8) as winning hopes at Rangiora today, as he tries to maintain his swift start to the new season.
Orange, who finished second overall to Dexter Dunn last term with 193 winners, has 18 winners from 75 drives so far this season, streaking ahead of main rival Dunn, who is on three wins from 29 drives.
But the Canterbury-based Orange is not thinking about his first national premiership just yet, with the new season only five weeks old.
"I'm getting some great support from a lot of good stables which is a key to your success.
"With that and driving with a bit of confidence it will hopefully keep ticking along good."
He said if the premiership race is close later in the season he will be pushing hard to snare his first title.
"I'm getting a lot of support from the whole South Island, but when it comes to the back end of the season and if it's going to help [flying to northern meetings] we'll have a look at that. I'd love to win a premiership.
"But we'll just play that by ear and see how things pan out.
"I'm sure Dexter will come back. It's a good rivalry for the sport but you are only as good as the stock you sit behind."
Orange confirmed that last season's Invercargill Cup winner Classie Brigade [11 wins], trained by Nigel McGrath, would be his number one choice as a New Zealand Cup drive on November 14.
"He had a great four-year-old season and should come back better this year."
McGrath trains maiden pacing mare Turkish Trousers in the second leg of the $25,000 Pick6 at Rangiora, and she is strongly favoured after a fighting fresh-up third on the track on August 13.
"This is a winnable race for her," said Orange.
"She had every show first-up and probably should have run second, but she'll win a race soon. She should improve on her first run."
He said the Andrew Stuart-trained Chaaat had trialled well before a solid first-up fifth from well back on the turn at Addington on September 1 and looked a good chance on his home track.
"Chaaat went pretty good first-up and again is in a winnable race."
But Orange believes that the McGrath-trained Goodlookin Chick could be his best drive in the last from her two draw.
"Personally, I think she's my best one. She's always been a handy horse.
"In her first-up run in the boys' race [ninth, never clear] she was pretty unlucky and last start [last] there must have been something wrong with her. I think she'll give them a fright."
Dunn also has three drives with the best probably The Kaik (R6), who has been racing without much luck lately.
- NZ Harness News