James Herbertson - Australia’s newest champion!

ALL hail James Herbertson…Australia’s newest champion!

Representing Victoria, Herbertson earned the coveted crown with several stylish displays at Globe Derby last night as part of the Australian Drivers’ Championship.

In its sixth year, the tournament saw drivers from each state contest eight heats, with the title decided on points.

Thanks to a double, two thirds and two handy fourths from his eight drives Herbertson outscored his rivals to claim bragging rights.

“I couldn’t have asked for it to go any better than it did,” Herbertson declared. “I felt I had a couple of handy drives, but didn’t really give myself a great deal of hope before the series, but to come away with the title is amazing.

“To win a series like this is something I never dreamt about, but it’s a pretty good feeling.”

West Australian reinswoman Emily Suvaljko kick started the evening on a winning note when triumphant with Ever Hoping, with her WA team mate Gary Hall junior second and local star Ryan Hryhorec third.

Herbertson then sprung into action by capturing the second heat with Hammers Law as Hryhorec and New South Wales representative Cameron Hart filled the placings.

With Herbertson watching from the sidelines, former champion Wayne Hill issued his challenge to regain the title thanks to a win behind Art Jester.

New South Wales’ Grace Panella was second, with Suvaljko third.

Herbertson then completed his double when The Sneaky Fox caused a minor upset, relegating Queenslander Narissa McMullen and and local idol Dani Hill to the placings.

Luckless through most of the tournament, Victorian Kate Gath enjoyed a partial happy homecoming when successful with Stratofortress, which scored by a neck from the Hall-driven Yorkshire.

Herbertson collected valuable points when a neck away third with Make Haste.

Herbertson was once again third before a pair of fourths were enough seal his victory, but the night was all glory for ‘young gun’ who finished last in the final heat!

Amassing 61 points, Herbertson claimed the title from Hart on 59 and Suvaljko on 57.

“It was such a fantastic night,” Herbertson said. “It was great fun being out there and part of it, meeting new people, including local owners and trainers you don’t normally drive for, and having a laugh.

“I have to thank the other drivers for such a wonderful experience and full credit goes to Harness Racing SA and Harness Racing Australia for putting the night together.

“It’s something I will always appreciate and cherish.”

  • PAUL COURTS