McIlwrick keen to add Timaru to list

Rory McIlwrick.
Rory McIlwrick.
Anywhere the wind blows doesn’t really matter to Rory McIlwrick on his quest for the junior drivers’ premiership which continues at Timaru tomorrow.

McIlwrick is traipsing around the South Island this spring as he looks to build on his nine-win lead early in the national premiership race.

"I’m just going with the wind," McIlwrick said yesterday, having just arrived in Dunedin from Invercargill.

"I definitely want to win the premiership, but more so I just want to keep meeting people and keep touring about. If the opportunities come, they come, but as long as I’m having a good time meeting people and driving well, that’s probably the most important thing."

McIlwrick’s laid-back approach has worked so far, as he has racked up 17 wins from just 86 drives, and enjoys a comfortable buffer over the North Island’s Sean Grayling (eight wins) in second place.

"Everything seems to be going well at this stage. You don’t know what’s around the corner, but you just hope things keep ticking away.

Six of McIlwrick’s 17 wins have been courtesy of the Woodend Beach team of Greg and Nina Hope, and two of their runners look to be McIlwrick’s leading chances from his five drives tomorrow.

Burn Off has provided McIlwrick with wins this season at Addington, Rangiora and Ashburton, and victory at Phar Lap Raceway in the Timaru Summer Cup could keep a streak going.

"I’ve won three races on him and every place that I’ve won a race on him, I’d never won a race before," he said.

"Timaru is another place I’ve never won a race before, so hopefully we can make it a four-peat."

The pair are shooting for three straight wins, after wins at Rangiora and Ashburton, and the 7yr-old starts off the 10m mark alongside four other runners.

"There are some capable horses there that have some ability. But he’s been in fine form, and if there’s a man to keep him going and in the right place, it’s Hopey [co-trainer Greg Hope].

"[Burn Off] should be extremely competitive in that race and a good chance of winning."

McIlwrick plans to rectify earlier drives with Lis Rulz (race 4) when the pair steps from the 10m mark in the c1-c2 grade.

"She’s had a few serious runs and she probably hasn’t had the greatest trips with me behind her, but hopefully we can pull one out and give her a bit of a chance," he said.

"This is a heck of a lot easier field that she’s faced in any of the three boys’ races [junior drivers’ races] I’ve driven against with her previously. She’s a big show there as well."

McIlwrick then travels to Ascot Park on Sunday, where he has two good chances in the form of Sweet As (race 9) and Absolutely Delighted (race 7).

The latter went 0.1sec outside the national 2400m mobile record when second to Sparkling Delight at Ashburton last week, but has drawn the inside of the second line.

"We won’t panic or do anything too silly early in the piece, but if we can get out at some stage and put her in the race, she’ll be very tough to beat."

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