By Duane Ranger

Kyle Marshall says that competing in the 2016 Australasian Young Drivers Championship in Western Australia early next month will be the highlight of his career.

“Only winning it will beat this achievement, because when I first started out as a junior this was my main goal. It was always something I wanted to achieve and I was running out of time.

“I’m just grateful to all the owners and trainers who made it all possible for me in my last year as a junior (2015-2016),” Marshall said.

For the last two year’s Marshall has been the North Island-Driver-Of-The-Year, but it was his career best 39 wins last season which saw him qualify as the North Island’s representative in Australia along with fellow Kiwis – Robbie Close (defending champion), Matt Anderson (New Zealand), and Brad Williamson (South Island).

Wade Rattray (Tasmania), Stuart McDonald (Western Australia), Nathan Dawson (Queensland), Todd McCarthy (New South Wales), Jason Lee (Victoria), Jayson Finnis (South Australia) complete the 10-strong line-up.

The 10-race series starts on December 2 and finishes on December 9 – the night of the Group One $1.1m TABtouch Inter Dominion Grand Final night at Gloucester Park.

“I am so looking forward to this. I have been for a very long time. I was rapt when I knew that I had qualified. It’s going to be an absolute honour representing the North Island and New Zealand over there.

“Every win has been special in my career and I’d love to win a few heats. I love this sport so much. Again I can’t thank the owners and trainers enough for getting me to Australia. I get such a thrill out of seeing them all win. That’s one of the main reasons why I love harness racing,” Marshall said.

The Cambridge born and educated 22-year-old has been working for Brent Mangos for the past three months and said it was good to be working up here in Auckland.

“So many horsemen have been so good to me and I’m learning a lot from Brent. I guess it all started with Dad (David) though. If he hadn’t got a few horses together for me to drive early on I may never have had a junior career.

“I owe him the biggest gratitude,” Marshall said.

Marshall said he was looking forward to driving in Australia again after spending a couple of seasons at Brent Lilley’s stable in Victoria where he drove 36 winners.

“I spent 18 months with Brent and I can’t thank him enough for all the help and advice he gave me while I was there. I think I came back a better driver because of that,” Marshall said.

Marshall got interested in harness racing via Cambridge Kidz Kartz.

“Then I used to help out at John Dickie’s after school and on weekends and that’s when I knew this is what I wanted to do,” Marshall said.

He got his junior driving licence in the 2010-2011 and went win-less in his first season before driving five in his second.

All up he’s nailed 79 winners from 945 starters and placed 165 times for $562,369 in stakes. In his first season as an open driver he has so far saluted the judge six times.

One of his best drives came in this this year’s Wairarapa Cup when he steered Mischief Maker to a memorable victory for Pukekohe trainer Paul Chalklen.

The 10-race 2016 Australasian Young Drivers Championship programme is:
2nd December – Heat at Gloucester Park.
3rd December – Two heats at Bunbury.
5th December – Two heats at Pinjarra.
6th December – Two heats at Northam.
8th December – Two heats at Narrogin.
9th December – One heat at Gloucester Park (TABtouch Inter Dominion Grand Final night).