Team teal drivers raise $44k for ovarian cancer research

Team teal’s Samantha Ottley had 16 wins in the fundraiser for ovarian cancer. Photo: Harnesslink
Team teal’s Samantha Ottley had 16 wins in the fundraiser for ovarian cancer. Photo: Harnesslink
Female harness racing drivers have raised $44,000 for ovarian cancer - all by winning in teal colours.

For six weeks the country’s female drivers, known as team teal, were involved in the campaign to raise awareness of ovarian cancer and funds for research.  

When it finished at a recent meeting at Reefton there had been 65 wins, with Harness Racing New Zealand and Woodlands Stud committing $100 for each win, with various clubs and individuals also making huge contributions.  

West Melton-based Samantha Ottley was the most successful team teal driver with 16 wins from February 1 to March 14. 

Collectors were at many race meetings, too, with race-goers and licence-holders very generous in their support of the project.  

Teal Pants is a transtasman initiative set up by Australian Duncan McPherson after his wife died from ovarian cancer.

This year was the fourth Teal Pants campaign in New Zealand and all the money raised in the country is spent here as well.  

Some of the Team teal members. Photo: Harnesslink
Some of the Team teal members. Photo: Harnesslink
This year’s total of $44,000 is down slightly on last year ($50,000) but is still being hailed as a success, considering the restraints brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The campaign has succeeded in bringing the issue of ovarian cancer into the open and this year awareness was very much the focus of the campaign.    

WomenCan, which partners with HRNZ during the Teal Pants campaign, said the New Zealand funds have contributed to the first phase of a new innovative screening programme called NOVEL.

“NOVEL will enable tumour profiling for New Zealand women with high grade, serous ovarian cancer, which will allow them rapid access to participate in specific international clinical trials,”  gynaecological oncologist Associate Professor Bryony Simcock said.

This year 300 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer, where the chance of surviving beyond the five-year cancer benchmark is 39 per cent.

NOVEL has the potential to benefit up to 90 per cent of women with ovarian cancer in the future.  

Said WomenCan head of fundraising and development Karen Livingstone: "Nearly every improvement in cancer treatment has resulted from a clinical trial.

"Women needs access to the latest innovative research in the hope it will improve their outcomes. When a woman is diagnosed with ovarian cancer she feels overwhelmed and alone.

"The support shown by the Harness Racing New Zealand community to fund more research and resources for these women is so appreciated and valued.”

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