One of New Zealand's most talented young harness trainers is moving to Australia in a shock decision and from tomorrow he will officially stop training here.
But rather than see the move as a curtailing of his training career, Josh Dickie hopes it will benefit his training and driving career long term.
Dickie and partner Sammy Kilgour are planning to move to Victoria in November to train from Kilgour's property close to the Melbourne metro racetrack Melton.
The move comes partially because the property Dickie trains from in South Auckland is soon to be sold by owner Marilyn Hoggard, whose late husband Kerry set it up for horse training before he died in 2015.
While the property may not be sold for up to a year, Dickie says he and Kilgour have failed to find a suitable replacement training facility so the time is right to move.
"Marilyn was always going to sell the property one day and she has been great to us since Kerry passed away," said Dickie. "So when she told us the news we went out to try and find another property and we simply can't get the right one.
"Sammy has her own property in Victoria, with a training track and stables, so it makes sense.
"We have talked about moving there before and I am really keen to have a shot at freelance driving over there as well and then building up a team so now is the time to try," says the 30-year-old.
How Dickie rates his contenders tonight
- Race 1, 6.03pm: "Callies Delight has to be a good chance but she needs the right sort of trip from her handicap. If she gets it she can win."
- Race 3, 6.54pm: "I have three in and rate Midfrew Lucre and Power Up the better two hopes because Magic Thompson is still developing. Maybe Midfrew Lucre is just the better chance."
- Race 5, 7.51pm: "This looks the perfect race for Manhattan and she is our best chance of the night."
- Race 6, 8.17pm: "Sertorius disappointed last start but he can be a bit like that and I am sure he will go better this week."
- Race 8, 10.11pm: "Cyber Attack missed away from the ace draw last time but is far better off on the unruly and has to be chance in this field."
With the move coming in a few months Dickie will transfer the horses he currently trains to his father John's name tomorrow but will remain working with him until he moves.
The pair trained in partnership until last year when John stepped away from fulltime training but he has still been hands on in the business and will resume training officially tomorrow and could remain on the current property for the foreseeable future until it is sold, or even after depending in the new owner's plans.
"Now we have made the decision to head to Australia we wanted to put the horses in Dad's name as soon as possible rather than changing them all over in October," explains Josh.
Dickie's move is a loss for the New Zealand harness racing industry as he is already an enormously accomplished horseman.
"I am really keen to concentrate on my driving over there but also be available to take on not only local horses but New Zealand horses people may think will be better off being based over there."